The Revolution Begins: The Flying Dutchman Masters
BGP/Beat Goes Public
When Gil Scott-Heron died the focus seemed to be on his comeback, a decade and a half in the wilderness – and at least a decade of not much before that – and then there was one terrific, sometimes terrifying album and a remix project that both paid tribute to the man and existed as its own thing entirely, most likely it did that fabled job of turning on new fans too. But what about the fury of the early years? That’s the really important stuff – that’s the story.
Dean Rudland has created an amazing 3-CD story here – with the best liner notes I’ve worked through in some time. He takes the early albums and separates out the songs for the first disc, the poetry onto another and the third contains the unreleased stuff for collectors – alternate takes from the Free Will sessions.
So it is both a dream set for completists and a perfect introduction.
Gil Scott-Heron was a writer – first and foremost. But when he recited his most famous poem – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – there was music in his voice, in his heart, in his fury.
To think that his “pick-up” band featured Ron Carter, Bernard Purdie and Hubert Laws!
Lady Day And John Coltrane, Home Is Where The Hatred Is, Save The Children, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – all in a row, that’s how the first disc kicks off. These are the pieces of a man that stand as some of the best poetry, some of the most beautiful soul music and some of the most powerful polemic in R’n’B – templates for hip-hop’s consciousness, treatises from the blocks. A voice for Civil Rights, a voice from his earlier novels, so confidant, so strong.
And at every stage it’s impossible not to be knocked over by the voice from the stage and the voice on the page – all at once. For the writing is the thing. Gil Scott-Heron played beautifully and sung exquisitely but it wouldn’t have meant shit without those worlds and that worldview. And then there’s the band that moves behind the words, intuitively, efficiently. It’s so clean, all about the silk-churn, that momentum, the pulse.
My world was knocked over when I was introduced to Gil Scott-Heron; it’s one of just a handful of actual life-changing moments in music for me. I can’t go back to a time before hearing Gil. His work is too powerful. It had an impact like hearing The Stones and The Beatles and Elvis and James Brown and Prince and Bob Dylan.
The poetry pieces – the most famous being the bongo-backed original take on Revolution, Whitey On The Moon, No Knock , Billy Green Is Dead and Paint It Black – sound more powerful, more ferocious for being placed together to huddle in and gather strength.
To think this was how it all just started for Gil – and yet this is very much the best of what he offered (to) music and words. All here. All of it worth hearing. All of it seemed so prophetic.
This is a must-own.
This was – and I believe still is – life-changing music.