Gil Scott-Heron – Me and the Devil (2010)

I recall the first time I ever encountered the work of Gil Scott-Heron, I was in my mid teens and I had just borrowed a load of records, among them his 1971 release, Pieces of a Man from the public library on a whim (I had never heard of him before). I did that a lot back then – borrow whole batches of vinyl records during the summer vacation and listen to albums all week long. When I got home and slipped Pieces of a Man onto the turntable for the first time, Gil Scott-Heron blew my mind, especially with spoken word and vocal jazz tracks like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” and “Lady Day & John Coltrane” (all video clips below) to name just a few.

Then, in 2006, while Scott-Heron was serving an extended sentence for cocaine possession and contempt of court at New York’s Riker’s Island, Richard Russell – owner of the independent British label XL Recordings – visited him to propose a collaboration. The result was I’m New Here, Scott-Heron’s first album in thirteen years, released earlier in 2010, reflecting on Scott-Heron’s life and visions with his “trademark vocal power and insight, among Russell’s flickering, electronic soundscapes.” Their first video collaboration, a cover of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil” (above). Let me tell you, I’ve got that very same feeling again. It takes quite an artist to really blow my mind that same way some 30 years apart.

Check out Gil Scott-Heron’s MySpace page to hear further tracks, or click here to read an interview with Scott-Heron at his website or purchase the CD.

Author: urbangraffito

I am a writer, editor, publisher, philosopher, and foole (not necessarily in that order). Cultural activist and self-described anarchist.

3 thoughts on “Gil Scott-Heron – Me and the Devil (2010)”

  1. Gil-Scott is amazing. It’s funny listening to his old songs now, with their incredibly dated references to early 1970s political leaders, commercials, fashion, etc. But the messages are as relevant as ever.

  2. Gil is the man – I still listen to him a little bit nearly every day. It’s amazing that he’s survived the past decade or so. His new stuff is haunting. I hope to get to see him play once again.

  3. Gil-Scott was one of the few African-American artists from the early 1970s who merged jazz, funk, and soul with spoken word diatribes on race, politics and urban blight. Perhaps he was an influence on Stevie Wonder’s change in musical direction on “Talking Book” and “Music Of My Mind?” GSH would have been king of the rappers if he had emerged in the mid-1980s. My favorite songs of his are “The Bottle” and “Johannesburg” – an early anti-Apartheid anthem.

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