Winter In America CD
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When Gil Scott Heron emerged in the early seventies his unique brand of hard-talking street poetry, combined with soulful jazz arrangements, paved the way for the hip-hop explosion with tracks like 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', 'Johannesburg' and 'The Bottle' remaining a touchstone for generations of artists. 'Winter In America' was his fourth and probably his most complete album, and the first to be co-billed with his flautist, keyboard player and co-writer Brian Jackson. Released in 1974, it captures Scott Heron at a turning point, largely leaving his heavier raps behind in favour of a floating ambience, with his poetry and song being illuminated by Jackson's superb instrumentation. The album includes 'Rivers Of My Fathers', a marvellous, meandering work that ebbs and flows for eight and a half minutes and 'The Bottle', one of the most exuberant catalogues of ghetto alcoholism ever committed to tape. There is also sweet and personal content here, too. 'A Very Precious Time' is a reverie of adolescent reminiscence and the sweetness of' Your Daddy Loves You' shows that not all revolutionaries could be on the frontline permanently. However, Scott-Heron had not abandoned his militant, witty, political poetic roots on' H20Gate Blue's, dedicated to the then-recently departed US Vice President Spiro Agnew. The title track wasn't on the original album, but a live version has been subsequently added to the reissue, as a snapshot of the stilted hopes and aspirations in the post Watergate and Vietnam War mid 70s America.
Winter In America was poet and writer Gil Scott Heron's fourth album, and the first to be co-billed with his flautist, keyboard player and co-writer Brian Jackson.
Recorded in September 1973 and released the following year, it captures Scott Heron at a turning point, largely leaving his heavier raps behind in favour of a floating ambience, with his poetry and song being illuminated by Jackson's superb instrumentation.
Rivers Of My Fathers is a marvellous, meandering work that ebbs and flows for eight and a half minutes; Scott-Heron's spoken utterance of ''Africa'' at the end chimes with the afro-centricity of the early 70s, and is conveyed great emotion and honesty.
The album's commercial centrepiece, The Bottle, is one of the most exuberant catalogues of ghetto alcoholism ever committed to tape. It truly struck a chord and has been much loved as well as covered by artists as diverse as Joe Bataan and Paul Weller. There is sweet and personal content here, too. A Very Precious Time is a reverie of adolescent reminiscence and the sweetness of Your Daddy Loves You shows that not all revolutionaries could be on the frontline permanently.
However, Scott-Heron had not abandoned his militant, witty, political poetic roots on H20Gate Blues, dedicated to the then-recently departed US Vice President Spiro Agnew. The title track wasn't on the original album, but a live version has been subsequently added to the reissue. It is should be played as standard on all modern history courses as a snapshot of the stilted hopes and aspirations in the post Watergate and Vietnam War mid 70s America.
Winter In America is probably Scott-Heron's most complete album. It certainly is one of his most compelling; it also highlights how great a foil Brian Jackson was to him. An affecting work. --Daryl Easlea
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Top Customer Reviews
That said, The Bottle, without doubt Scott Heron's most well know song, continues to pack dancefloors to this day. A scathing attack on drinking and the society's double standards when it comes to the acceptability of alcohol.
The title track sets out Scott Heron's criticism of the state of America in the mid-1970s, a country he felt was in serious danger.
The album finishes off with H2O Gate Blues, again an angery attack, this time on the Nixon administration.
While some of the politics is dated (who cares about Nixon now?) the social concerns and the underlying humanity are as relevant in the 21st Century as they were then.
Underpinning Scott Heron's poetry is Brian Jackson's beautiful jazz-inflected music. To my ears much more sophisticated and interesting than some of Scott Heron's later musical accompaniment.
Compare H20 Gate Blues with Re-Ron from the early 80's to see my point.
The pair went on the record 'From South Africa to South Carolina', another record with a lyrical punch but musical kidd gloves.
Scott Heron is often described as a forefather of rap. When one listens to 'The Message' or 'Rebel Witout A Pause' one can see the link.
However, the tragedy is not only that rap today has lost any social comment other than 'keeping it real', but that all music seems to have been politically neutered.
Buy this album and be reminded of a time when musicians wanted to change the world and not just get a gold record.
This is one of Gil Scott-Heron's most mellow sounding albums with a very strong jazz sound, reflecting the influence of Brian Jackson, his 'best' and most important collaborator.
It is lyrically less overly political and angry than some of his albums but politics and anger are never entirely absent from Scott Heron's work. There is a strong social commentary (for example 'The Bottle; about alcohol and society) and political commentary (H2Ogate blues - a searing indictment of the Nixon administration - although more than 30 years later I'm not sure anybody really cares).
I'm not sure that this is Gil Scott Heron's best work although it does include the stand out track 'The Bottle' but it is one of my personal favourites and certainly the one I listen to most.
Gil has the rare ability of a social commentator not to judge or preach - but shows anger and humour. He breaks down problems by pitching himself as the victim. All these traits can be seen here.
Make sure you buy TVT Records re-released copy as this contains 4 bonus live tracks. Including the title track, which does not appear on the original but on the equally excellent 'First Minute of a New Day' album.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The themes of this album are still relevant which is simultaneously reassuring and depressing. GSH's turns of phrase are gold: warm, often very funny, and cutting - a visionary. Read morePublished 6 months ago by MikeNPip
Product was in excellent condition and was delivered ahead of schedule. Not as 5 star album but wonderful musicianship and well worth purchasing.Published 6 months ago by Stephen Keach
This is a masterpiece and should be required listening for everybody. What's to say about a work of genius? Read morePublished on 13 Nov. 2013 by Philip Boucherat
Contains many classic tracks, making this album a definitive representation of Scott-Heron's work. Warms the soul in a in a cold period in America's political history. Read morePublished on 24 July 2013 by mwandishi