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I'm New Here CD

4.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (8 Feb. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: XL
  • ASIN: B002ZBT84G
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 58,617 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product description

BBC Review

It’s been a long, hard road to redemption for Gil Scott-Heron, the influential musician, poet and author, whose last full-length album, Spirits, was released 16 years ago. In the interim, he’s been in and out of jail on various drug-related offences, his taste for narcotics sapping the creative impulses that once burned so brightly. Scott-Heron’s saviour came in the unlikely shape of XL Records boss Richard Russell – the man responsible for rave classic The Bouncer by Kicks Like a Mule – who offered to produce an album by the singer during his stint in Rikers.

Their collaboration is bookended by a cracked, two-part reminiscence of Scott-Heron’s roots titled On Coming From a Broken Home, which is based around a typically fastidious piece of wordplay. There’s a wonderfully circuitous spectrum of influences at work on the song – Kanye West has sampled Scott-Heron in the past, this track is built from a refrain from the hip hop star’s Flashing Lights, which borrows from a song by Scott-Heron’s peer in the 70s socio-political music scene, Curtis Mayfield.

Scott-Heron has an intuitive way of grasping work written by others and skewing it to fit his own austere worldview. He covers Bobby Bland’s I’ll Take Care of You and Robert Johnson’s Me and the Devil, but the most surprising addition is the title track, a version of a song by downcast indie rockers Smog. Scott-Heron appropriates the piece for his own use, as a way of reintroducing himself to the world (“No matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around,” he muses), while also addressing the past (“I had an ego on me the size of Texas. I forget. Does that mean big or small?”).

He continues to dissect the past and realign himself with the present throughout, carefully pouring all his life experience into every syllable and drawing on the triumphs and aberrations that shaped him. Meanwhile, Russell is careful never to intrude, instead using deathly silence and the dolorous thud of treated drum sounds to provide a stark backing. The one shaft of light that pierces a hole through the centre of the record is New York is Killing Me, which approaches something resembling exuberance via the upbeat clop of a handclap-driven beat.

I’m New Here is an unlikely but triumphant return, packed full of sadness, experience and an underlying feeling of someone making peace with their mistakes and regrets. --Nick Neyland

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When Spirits came out it seemed a real comeback - a more stripped down, back to basics (jazz) sound. It was good to hear a GSH album like the earlier ones without the drawn out, overfunked sound of some of the 80's albums. For some reason though he never seemed to play most of the songs of this album in concert.

I never thought it'd be 15 years til his next album and the last few years I never thought there would be a new album at all.

'I'm New Here' is a brutal, stark, blast of an album. Like hearing a dead man's last record. I was reminded of American Prayer - there is a ghostly poetry to GSH's vocals here. An aural 'Blood Simple'. Some may not be so keen on this somewhat filmic, voice over, indie style of record, but I think it's an excellent route for GSH in his later years. The aging icon as a source of pre-death wisdom, like Johnny Cash on his American albums.

There are not many musical legends still recording. Gil Scott-heron is undoubtedly one of them and this is a brilliant record for a new decade.
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The two bookends on this album are 'on coming from a broken home', a poignant and reflective tribute to Gil's Grandmother, which set the tone for this most personal of his albums. There is no 'The Revolution ...', 'B-Movies' or 'H2O gate blues', but the LP is no less political for that ... in a society where young black men are more likely to go to prison than to university, and where conservative rhetoric about 'broken homes' [or 'broken Britain' for that matter] crudely pathologises a complex mixture of economics, social pressure, continuing racism, existential striving, resistance and gender politics. The second bookend of the two defiantly reframes that situation as a struggle for survival: a pursuit of happiness, even.

In the 80s, Gil Scott-Heron was a lodestar in a fairly fluffy musical world, articulating with great humour and precision the concerns that many of us had in trying to make our way through life in the Reagan and Thatcher era. His voice is more battered now, more cracked in every way, but the insight and humour is still there - only ploughing a more visceral furrow.

The other pivotal track on this album is the exceptional 'Me and the Devil', where Gill channels the crossroads spirit of Robert Johnson and describes his own pact with the devil. It is this tornado which whirls through the rest of the album, magnificently underpinned by a wholly appropriate blend of deep blues and techno dramatics: hair-raising stuff on the track itself. Whether gently introspective, defiant, chaotically cut-up, the CD is a meditation on that diabolic pact, and Gil's personal jihad to reclaim himself and find a sort of redemption.

The bookends balance out that human tornado, humanise, soften and contextualise and externalise it, take it beyond himself.
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Format: Audio CD
Those who have given this album a bad review just don't get it. Of course it's not like his other albums. Of course it is very different. GSH is an artist in the true sense of the word, and he has moved on from his previous incarnations. The man has spent alot of his adult life on drugs and some of it in jail, and he is reflecting on the consequences of this as well as the debt he owes to the women (the strong women) in his life. He is in his sixties now and has a different perspective from the young fire brand who wrote Whitey On The Moon. But make no mistake, this is an important work. It is both challenging, moving and profound. My only criticism, if you can call it a criticism, is that it is very short. But sometimes you can say all you need to say in 28 minutes.
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This is moving, dignified, intimate music, more personal than political - music by a great artist who still has something to say. Indeed two or three songs on this superb album would make it onto my dream "Best of Gil Scott-Heron".

The things you remember most about most of Gil's work are the intelligent, witty lyrics. While this album displays moments of lyrical invention, his greatest strengths on this album are his performances, particularly of other artist's songs. These have been helped by time (and some hard living) dumping a truckload of gravel into Gil's voice. I have heard few more moving declarations than Gil's reading of "I'll Take Care Of You". Robert Johnson's preternaturally scary "Me And The Devil" is rarely covered, but Gil's synth-backed reading stands comparison with the great Delta bluesman. Indeed, if you take the view that the blues is a sensibility rather than a conventional form (with its arteries hardened by unimaginative artists and audiences), then this is perhaps the greatest blues album since Muddy Waters walked the Earth.

This is a short album, operating at its fighting weight and mercifully free from the filler that spoils so many records. Interspersed with short, thoughtful interludes, the songs come in, do their stuff and then slide out without over-staying their welcome.

A joy.
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Format: Audio CD
Listening again to this it's a sad epitaph to the great music gsh made in the 70s.
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If your looking for quality not quantity
then this is for you.
Yet another 5 star album from Gil. Equally as good as his best CD's from the 70's.
It gets better with every listen and it was excellent to start with.
If it's quantity your after at 28 mins running time then its not for you!
Glad he's back its been a long wait since his last album.
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