Underplayed vinyl: Reflections – Gil Scott-Heron

The first song I remembered from Reflections by Gil Scott-Heron, before playing it again, is actually the final track, B-Movie, mostly about Ronald Reagan.

Gil Scott-HeronGil Scott-Heron would have been 70 on April 1, 2019, reason enough to bring back a category on this blog. Underplayed Vinyl means records I used to play a LOT as LPs, but as I got into CDs, haven’t played nearly so much.

His “collaborative efforts with musician Brian Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues, and soul, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. His own term for himself was ‘bluesologist’, which he defined as ‘a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues…’ Scott-Heron is considered by many to be the first rapper/MC ever…”

I have some other music by him. We Almost Lost Detroit appears on the No Nukes album. He co-wrote and sang on Let Me See Your I.D. on the Artists United Against Apartheid album Sun City. Most importantly, I have the epic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised on a compilation of 100 Years of Black Music.

Reflections (1981) is the only full Gil Scott-Heron album I own. The first song I remembered, before playing it again, is actually the final track, B-Movie, mostly about Ronald Reagan. It’s astonishing how relevant the lyrics still are. Just change the names of the players.

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

Reflections features:
Storm Music (Gil Scott-Heron)
Grandma’s Hands (Bill Withers)
Is That Jazz? (G S-H)
Morning Thoughts (G S-H)
Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) (James Nyx, Marvin Gaye)
Gun (G S-H)
‘B’ Movie (Intro, Poem, Song) (G S-H)

Gil Scott-Heron, born April 1, 1949, died too early, on May 27, 2011 at the age of 62. I have found no cause of death, though “he disclosed in a 2008 New York Magazine interview that he had been HIV-positive for several years, and that he had been previously hospitalized for pneumonia.”

Pieces of a Man album (1971), the first cut being The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Winter In America (1974)
We almost Lost Detroit (1977 studio version with Brian Jackson)
Reflections album (1981)
Artists United Against Apartheid: Let Me See Your ID (1985)
Several National Public Radio pieces