Ever since hearing ‘The Revolution Will Not be Televised,’ I’ve been a fan of Gil Scott Heron’s work.
He’s a poet, author, singer and activist with a career that spans over four decades…and while he has a sharp eye for social injustice, he has an equally sharp wit to match. Together with long-time collaborator Brian Jackson, Heron released several influential albums in the seventies like “Small Talk at 125th & Lenox,” “Pieces of a Man” and “Winter in America” which focused on issues he felt relevant to the African American community: white ignorance, black hipocrisy, inner city struggles, homophobia and class inequalities.
Since then he has been in jail, had many problems with drugs, retired and reappeared…and yet has always remained Gil Scott.
Released in 1981, “Reflections” still remains one of his most accessible works with it’s easy mix of soul, funk, jazz and spoken word. Whether it’s his covers of ‘Grandma’s Hands’ or ‘Inner City Blues,’ or the smooth reggae tinged “Storm Music,’ the album never fails to surprise and impress. Never a huge fan of Reagan or his policies, Heron dedicated an entire song ‘B-Movie’ to his criticisms. (Luckily the internet had a quote so I can cut and paste and not have to type it all out!)
“The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can — even if it’s only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards. And yesterday was the day of our cinema heroes riding to the rescue at the last possible moment. The day of the man in the white hat or the man on the white horse — or the man who always came to save America at the last moment — someone always came to save America at the last moment — especially in ‘B’ movies. And when America found itself having a hard time facing the future, they looked for people like John Wayne. But since John Wayne was no longer available, they settled for Ronald Reagan — and it has placed us in a situation that we can only look at — like a ‘B’ movie.” (Gil Scott-Heron, B-Movie’)
If you like soul music or socially conscious jazz this is one for you. If you don’t, well this is one for you as well. Don’t sleep on it. Here’s another track called ‘Grandma’s Hands’ to tide you over.