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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 September 2003
One of the earlier, more jazz influenced albums, Winter in America lost none of Scott Heron's direct political attack. Written with Brian Jackson, Scott Heron's most stable and dependable collaborators, this album has fewer funkier, more dance orientated songs than some of his later records.
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.
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on 28 January 2005
Gil Scott-Heron is one of the great recording artists of the 20th century; it is a shame that he is relatively unknown. He work is always interesting and I would recommend (almost) all of his albums. If you are unfamiliar with his work then this album is a good place to start although it is not altogether typical of his work.
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.
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on 6 March 2001
This sees Gil in thoughtful mood. From the opening calling for the unity within Americas black population, to the intensly proud 'Rivers of my Fathers'. Gil shows a lot of domestic love in the bulk of the albums songs. This album of course features two Scott-Heron classics - the funky 'The Bottle' cutting about alcoholism and the raw, prophetic 'H2O GATE Blues' in which Gil slams the Nixon administration 17 months before Nixon's resignation.
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.
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on 8 April 2007
This is indeed a great album - it's one of my favourite Gil Scott-heron CD's - but you need to know that he's always had a policy of recycling song titles and album titles, and even book titles into songs, albums, etc. Thus the SONG 'Winter In America' came later, and is featured on an album called 'The First Minute Of A New Day'. If that's what you're looking for, don't buy this. But it IS a great album. 'Peace Go With You, Brother' is especially good. 'The Bottle' is a classic, and 'H2Ogate' Blues is still worth listening to.
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on 6 May 2012
This album doesn't do it for me - I admire the guy and caught an impressive performance on the OGWT - but the vocals are too high in the mix and somehow forced - and the lyrics seem cloying cliches in places(maybe just dated). Everyone said i should love this album - cos i love Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield - so i was disappointed. The Bottle song is not bad, but starts to irritate after six or seven hearings. It could just be me, cos everyone else is raving. Maybe just one of those things i just don't get. And i'm really sorry he has gone so young. So with respect, i'll just say i'm puzzled.(Maybe someone would like to explain it to me).
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on 27 April 2003
Heron's masterful recording of environmental and sociological destruction is as poignant and relevant today as it was when first released. Aware of the slow degradation of society, Heron recorded some of his most powerful work on this album. The Bottle clearly illustrates the painful descent into alcoholism while H2O Gate blues highlights the blatant corruption and cronyism that blighted Nixon's presidency. Few since Marvin Gaye have effectively highlighted the sores on American society in the same way as Heron and it's worth trying to get hold of the import version which contains an excellent live version of the title track. Best money spent on rap/poetry before the advent of Grandmaster Flash. A must for any conscientious record collection
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on 4 May 2005
Gil Scott-Heron is one of the great recording artists of the 20th century; it is a shame that he is relatively unknown. He work is always interesting and I would recommend (almost) all of his albums. If you are unfamiliar with his work then this album is a good place to start although it is not altogether typical of his work.
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.
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on 13 November 2013
This is a masterpiece and should be required listening for everybody. What's to say about a work of genius? It's not just down to Gil Scott Heron either, Brian Jackson's piano playing is totally inspired!
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on 24 July 2013
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. Comes highly recommended!
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on 28 January 2016
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. RIP
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