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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Winter In America

Gil Scott-Heron

1974

Winter In America
Album Summary

Winter in America is a studio album by American vocalist Gil Scott-Heron and keyboardist Brian Jackson. It was recorded in September to October 1973 at D&B Sound Studio in Silver Spring, Maryland and released in May 1974 by Strata-East Records. Scott-Heron and Jackson produced the album in a stripped-down fashion, relying on traditional African and R&B sounds, while Jackson's piano-based arrangements were rooted in jazz and the blues. The subject matter on Winter in America deals with the African-American community and inner city in the 1970s. The album serves as Scott-Heron and Jackson's debut release for Strata-East, following a dispute with their former label and departure. It proved to be their sole release for the independent jazz label. Upon its release, Winter in America featured limited distribution in the United States and quickly became rare in print. However, with promotional help from its only single "The Bottle", it obtained considerably larger commercial success than Scott-Heron's and Jackson's previous work. The album debuted at number six on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart and ultimately sold over 300,000 copies in the United States. While it was critically overlooked upon its release, Winter in America earned retrospective acclaim from several writers and music critics as Scott-Heron's and Jackson's greatest work together. Along with its critical recognition, it has been noted by several critics for its influence on derivative music forms such as neo soul and hip hop music, as many artists of the genres have been influenced by Scott-Heron's and Jackson's lyrical and musical approach on the album. On March 10, 1998, Winter in America was reissued on compact disc for the first time in the United States through Scott-Heron's Rumal-Gia Records.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.25

Votes

10027
Genres
Jazz
Soul
Blues

Reviews

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Tue Dec 14 2021
5

Really enjoyable. Reminds you how little has changed in politics since the 70s. (Could not find on Spotify, YouTube link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnkDjMDD3JQ)

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Tue Dec 14 2021
4

I love the electric piano, the bluesy jazzy fusion feel, the political lyrics and his pained voice. GSH sings like he has lived every word (the opposite of Paul Simon). My gripe is that 1001 shouldn’t have picked this album over his 1971 release “Pieces of a Man”. While I may grumble a bit about their choice of Allman Brothers or Alice Cooper or Steely Dan albums, not including “Pieces of a Man” is a serious oversight. It’s a historic release, with the epic “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” who many say was the first hip-hop song and there’s at least a half-dozen other epic tracks. I’ll never get tired of “Lady and John Coltrane” or “Home is where the Hatred Is”. It’s a highly listenable LP, back-to-front. I was going to post a complaint on reddit/1001 but I didn’t want to interrupt a heated discussion about the merits of Napalm Death.

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Mon Feb 14 2022
5

Its emotional and political. Gil and Brian used their art and their talents as an extension of the community, to reflect the mood, the sensitivity, the circumstance of the community and America at that time. The wo derful "The Bottle" did unfortunately become a self fullfilling prophesy for Gil Scott Heron and I also believe H20gate Blues is as much about the politics of America today as it was nearly 50 years ago. Now on to listen to another two of his tremendous albums Pieces of a Man and Free Will. Gil Scott Heron is forever in my heart.

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Sat Mar 19 2022
5

I also do not know if this should be in the miscellaneous, jazz, or on which shelf. I know it should be on my shelf.

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Fri Feb 11 2022
5

absolutamente inacreditável que nunca tinha nem ouvido falar disso aqui

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Mon May 02 2022
5

This was really good, has a way with words. I liked his explanation of The Blues and the jazz song about Watergate. Reminds me of antiwar icier men like Michael Franti and Billy Bragg

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Sun Jan 23 2022
3

Did nothing for me. Music is good, voice is good, but it just doesn't gel to something great. 2.5/5

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Mon Feb 12 2024
3

Unique album, albeit it is dated. The music and lyrics seem to be going in their own directions at times, but work well together.

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Thu Feb 10 2022
2

this just really was not my vibe at all like it was funky and groovy but just not the type of music i’d listen to ever.

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Mon Jan 10 2022
5

SO GOOD. My standout track was The Bottle, and honestly all of side 2 especially . I wish this was on Spotify. For my own note keeping, a blurb I copied from Wikipedia below: Winter in America juxtaposes themes of nostalgic hope to the social problems of the early 1970s, particularly in the African-American community and inner cities.[29][30] Also a prominent theme in Scott-Heron's lyrics is people's faith in their culture in a bleak, impoverished environment.

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Wed Jan 19 2022
5

I love Gil Scott-Heron but haven't listened to this one. It's fantastic though. The piano playing is incredibly beautiful and really complements his voice. Another for the vinyl list!

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Thu Jan 27 2022
5

Extremely soulful stuff. Had a blast with this listen, and I'm certain I'll need to check out more of this stuff. Favorites: "Peace Go With You, Brother", "Rivers of My Fathers", "The Bottle", "Song for Bobby Smith"

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Thu Jan 27 2022
5

Blown away by this, really incredible.

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Sun Feb 06 2022
5

A powerful, beautiful blend of musical styles. Despite what the lyrics are talking about, which is important and serious stuff, the instrumentals were soothing and just a joy to listen to. The piano work in this is amazing. And damn, 'H2OGate Blues' is such a good, poignant, powerful song.

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Fri Jun 24 2022
5

Damn I love Gil Scott-Heron. Wish Pieces of a Man was on the list as well. He is socially conscious, calming, uplifting, hilarious, groovy, heartbreaking, smooth, and a hundred other things all in one album and I always find myself wanting more. 10/10

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Fri Jul 22 2022
5

This album is really enjoyable. Interesting to note Kendrick Lamar samples the first song (at 0:50) in Poe Man’s Dream

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Mon Aug 01 2022
5

Good album. Really liked "The Bottle". Listening from a modern perspective, offers a great window into the 70s.

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Wed Oct 19 2022
5

Really loved the sound of this

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Thu Oct 27 2022
5

Every time I hear Gil Scott-Heron I learn a little bit about something.

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Thu Oct 27 2022
5

This was such a wonderful synthesis of blues, R&B, and just that classic 70s Black sound. I loved every one of these tracks, but my jaw dropped during H20Gate Blues. That shit could have been written YESTERDAY it's so sadly relevant. I was on the fence about 4 or 5 here, but I've talked myself into a 5 because I realize I want to listen to this a lot more, and also to the rest of Gil's records.

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Mon Nov 07 2022
5

Ok how is Winter in America not on Spotify? It’s fantastic!! I can see how Gil Scott is considered a precursor to hip hop and rap, there’s wonderful poetry here as well as just… good music. Loved The Bottle and H2Ogate Blues, but overall the experience was inspiring. After listening I went straight to Pieces of a Man, which opens with a wonderful poem based on the slogan “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. The rest of the album doesn’t get that political but it’s still a fantastic sou l record. 5/5 for both albums, will revisit a lot.

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Thu Nov 10 2022
5

Soul filled hammond and a reverence that speaks to the lyrics is how it opens and it is captivating. This piano on Rivers Of My Fathers is wild. Dude what a wholesome and uplifting album. OH THE WATERGATE BLUES IS THE BEST! wow what a great musical expression.

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Wed Nov 16 2022
5

It is criminal that this album is not on any streaming services. This is an awesome album. I'd love to have it on vinyl. I was jamming the entire time. I went into this album expecting to give it a 4 because of its genres, but came out eager to give it a 5. My favourite songs were Rivers of My Fathers, A Very Precious Time, and The Bottle.

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Fri Nov 18 2022
5

like nothing i've heard before, loved

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Thu Dec 29 2022
5

Apt, considering the snow outside right now. A cozy record that harkens to home around a fireplace we can barely afford to light. I like it.

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Thu Dec 29 2022
5

The ideal intersection of jazzy, spacey, and soulful for my rainy afternoon drive home. This was so powerful that I am upset I'd never heard of it before.

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Sat Dec 31 2022
5

One of the strongest voices in history

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Tue Jan 31 2023
5

This is exactly type of record I had hoped to encounter when I started this list. Winter in America is completely unique and engaging to my ears. It’s funky and captivating with conscientious, poetic lyrics that paint a vivid picture of American Life that, frankly, isn’t wildly different from the America we live in today, nearly 50 years later. It’s the kind of record that I don’t think anyone else could make or even attempt to recreate. Gil Scott Heron’s talent, his way with words, is incomparable. This record was a breath of fresh air. I loved it. It’s a shame it isn’t easily available for digital purchase or streaming outside of YouTube. I ordered a copy on vinyl after my first listen, thats how mischievous I loved it.

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Sat Feb 04 2023
5

J'adore le style, très belle voix et tres groové, c'est platte que ca ne soit pas sur spotify. 5

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Tue Feb 14 2023
5

As much as Pieces of a Man gets possibly the most recognition from Gil Scott-Heron's catalogue, Winter in America is, to me, his absolute best.

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Wed Mar 01 2023
5

Another insane album that is sadly not on spotify. Jazz, soul, R&B and the blues mixed together to create some great tunes. The bottle is the highlight of the album for me. 9/10

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Fri Mar 03 2023
5

This is a fantastic album and artist worthy of being on this list and a 5/5 rating, just for the skill level, poetry, and historic/political importance. I love the jazzy flute solos and GSH's voice is so pained. Brian Jackson's piano playing is amazing. I find it to be a challenging listen, not easy or light at all, but a bit grueling and heavy. It's not one I will reach for when I need a pick-me-up. But of course, that's not the point at all. Like so many really important albums, it is not an easy piece of music, but worth the effort. 5/5

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Mon Mar 20 2023
5

Absolutely gorgeous. I was a little wary with the first song, but the album pulled me in extremely quickly and rarely let go. It is an utter travesty that this is unavailable on any steaming services, because I want to listen to this constantly.

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Wed Mar 22 2023
5

A great disc that everyone should hear. Like Patti Smith, Gil Scott-Heron is a poet first and a musician second. The music is soulful and intimate. While Jackson's piano work is almost improvisational, Gil Scott-Heron's lyrics are direct and almost prophetic. The Bottle is a standout.

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Thu Apr 13 2023
5

such a gosh darn beautiful voice. silky smooth. and that bass omg 😫my one gripe is how out of place H2O gate blues was, great message but i didn’t love the song. every other song blew me away tho 💯

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Thu Apr 13 2023
5

I've never heard of Gil Scott-Heron before, but I really enjoyed this album. Musically, it was really fun to listen to; the flute usage throughout, and the piano arrangements really meshed to create a sound that was rooted in soul and blues, but still its own. For an album about such heavy subject matter, it really had some fun grooves, and I caught myself bobbing my head along throughout most of the album. As great as the music was here, the lyrics are the real standout to me. I really enjoyed when spoken word was used in some of the songs, and it felt very apt, since a lot of civil rights leaders used spoken word and poetry when they would orate. "The Bottle" and "H20 Gate Blues" were my two favorite tracks, and their lyrics are still incredibly relevant in today's political discourse (I had never heard of Frank Rizzo before, but wow, that guy sounds like a real piece of shit). Overall, I think this album set out to deliver a message about America in the seventies, and with its great music, it achieves that goal.

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Thu May 18 2023
5

Before there was hip hop there was Gil Scott Heron This album is such a wonderful blend of poetry, jazz and soul

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Wed Jun 07 2023
5

First time listening to Gil Scott-Heron, amazing work.

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Wed Jun 14 2023
5

Not on Spotify but The Bottle, the epic H20gate blues and many other great tracks from a youtube clip, make this a great solid four star album.

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Sun Jul 16 2023
5

Brilliant, genius, lyrically and musically flawless.

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Sun Aug 20 2023
5

как же кайфанула

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Thu Aug 24 2023
5

This was great. A nice snapshot of 1970s Black America. Gil Scott-Heron never held back in his life and he does not disappoint in "H2OGate Blues." Love how he touched upon so many social issues. I can definitely see why this is such an important album.

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Wed Sep 20 2023
5

Scott-Heron's strength is as a poet. The music on this album is a little too mild for me. On his strength as a poet, however, 10/10.

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Wed Oct 25 2023
5

Loved this album straight thru!

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

Deeply moving, raw, and intelligent with slick music to boot. A great album I definitely wouldn’t have found otherwise.

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Thu Dec 07 2023
5

Gil Scott-Heron is a genius and this is another great record from him. Loved it

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Tue Dec 19 2023
5

A glittering jewel of an album, a time capsule of the turmoil of mid-70s America as only Gil Scott-Heron could examine it. Along with the considerable musical gifts of Brian Jackson, they make a formidable team.

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

This is a difficult album to find on streaming in 2024. That said, its worth looking for as its absolutely outstanding. This is a great "shits all fucked up and someones gotta say something" work of art. 5/5

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Fri Jan 19 2024
5

Gil Scott-Heron is severely underrated when it comes to the discussion of 70’s Soul. This album, like a lot of his work, is a masterpiece

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Wed Jan 24 2024
5

A really good album. As someone else has written, it reminds you that little has changed in politics since the 70s. It's a shame that you can only hear it on YouTube.

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Fri Jan 26 2024
5

Really really liked it. Beautiful singing and lyrics and piano

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Mon Feb 26 2024
5

Wasn't on Spotify, listened to Pieces of man instead, absolute quality

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Fri Mar 08 2024
5

The man is a legend, the album is not available to stream so I just listened to everything else in his catalogue. I heard The Bottle 42 years ago in a basement club called the honky Tonk, on a Sunday night. It took me 10 years to track it down and I thought I was onto someone special, and I still am.

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Wed Apr 03 2024
5

So much fun. So so much fun. I had to explore YouTube to get the full album but on top of really needing something to help me work, it was just a delight.

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Fri Apr 12 2024
5

A really great album by an artist, I must admit, I did not know. A shame that is isn't available on Spotify, but found it on Youtube. Will be dipping into his other records but since I listen either on Spotify or on my stereo I will probably not hear this record again ...

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Mon Dec 13 2021
4

Timeless good blues/jazz/soul/funk music !

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Tue Dec 14 2021
4

GSH has such a sweet voice, even when he’s simply speaking it’s mellifluous. I agree that Pieces of a man is a superior album and should have been on this list instead. I also prefer his last album, I’m not here to this. But his influence and artistry cannot be denied.

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Tue Dec 14 2021
4

This album is quite enjoyable. The minimalist well played piano coupled with excellent vocals and relevant lyrics really works. 

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Sat Dec 18 2021
4

Not bad, not bad. Like: Back Home Did not expect there's a talk show there...

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Wed Dec 22 2021
4

I liked it i think! very jazzy and soulful.

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Sat Dec 25 2021
4

Scott-Heron's work seems to me sometimes as not so much music as a sonic art installation, which is maybe a distinction without difference? Interesting to listen too and definitely makes me think but I'm not exactly tapping my toes.

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Sat Dec 25 2021
4

It was enjoyable. Good background music; I was listening to it whilst cleaning my room.

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Tue Jan 04 2022
4

3.5/5. Good. Not as good as Pieces of a Man, but certainly a solid album.

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Sun Jan 09 2022
4

This album is a socially conscious blend of soul and cool jazz that at times seems to predict the eventual rise of rap with Gil Scott-Heron’s spoken delivery. This album is somewhat conversational which lends a sense of intimacy that makes its message effective

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Sun Jan 09 2022
4

I realized after researching a bit that I was familiar with Gil Scott-Heron through The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. This is great stuff. Super jazzy and bluesy. Loved the piano.

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Mon Jan 24 2022
4

Had to download it - not on Spotify. Proper good stuff this - very funky, very groovy and politically on point all these years later

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Mon Feb 07 2022
4

The smooth Fender Rhodes electric organ all over this album is absolutely intoxicating. Beautiful warbled textures from start to finish executing deeply soulful cascading chord progressions. Of course Gil Scott-Heron's poetry over the top only adds to the alluring atmosphere here.

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Thu Feb 10 2022
4

...unfortunately for me this wasn't available on Apple Music in the States - here's a YouTube playlist if others have the same issue; first 9 songs are the original album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSSNXW9EANA&list=PLDIxWXRU4UDpUpAB4vMTUroYuvodq118L - - - - Different. Excellent. I really enjoy this - very raw with not a ton of instrumentation; I enjoy Gil's voice quite a bit and it meshes perfectly with Brian Jackson's keyboard sound - perfect compliments to each other. The jazz-soul aspects of this definitely are "of the age" and one might say it sounds dated (and it definitely does) but in this case I like it. Really nice listening musically and lyrically interesting especially on multiple listens; many topics dealing with inner city issues and neglect. "H20Gate Blues" is sort of the outlier musically but still fun to listen to and important - a funny mostly-ad-libbed poem dealing with the then-timely Nixon/Agnew fkery of the country. This is one I'd like to actually find on vinyl - will definitely come back to this one. 8/10 4 stars.

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Tue Feb 15 2022
4

Had to do some digging to find this one, but man did I dig it. I'm really into Heron's work, I feel like we had another album of his on here, but I'm just remembering that I recently bought one from him on vinyl. His spoken-word poetry style, which could at times be characterized as "rap," is really engaging. I love the tracks that are personal or political (most of them to be fair). I know "The Bottle" from being sampled by Knxwledge for "Suede," that's a great track. There's an excellent run of tracks on the back end of this, especially with H2OGate. Really love this, more Gil-Scott Heron would be welcome! Favorite tracks: Your Daddy Loves You, H2OGate Blues, Peace Go With You Brother, The Bottle, Song for Bobby Smith. Album art: Heavy on the framing, but the picture is actually really cool. Love that funky art style. 4.5/5

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Thu Feb 17 2022
4

Quite hard to find, this one - but worth it, his voice is wonderful as ever here, bluesy, jazzy, soulful - with some strong things to say about the politics of the day. Makes you sit up and listen.

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Sat Feb 26 2022
4

Genre: Soul 4/5 Gil Scott-Heron, a man better known as the godfather of rap, being one of the first artists to synthesize black musical soundscapes with spoken word, feauturing some of the more scathing political commentary that was around at the time, is an icon. While this album, a soul-jazz project with jazz keyboardist Brian Jackson, doesn't truly represent Scott-Heron's usual body of work, it serves as a good starting point for what should be an eventual dive into his archives. There are some really tremendous tracks here. The intro Peace Go with You, Brother is a beautiful piece of smooth soul with some really great singing, to elegant jazz blends on The Bottle, to the song you're more apt to see throughout his discography H2Ogate Blues, a blues jam that Gil Scott-Heron floats on top of with his own unique style of elegantly worded, socially conscious, anti-government rhymes. There should be more of this man in this book (this is it, for some reason), and I'm not quite sure why this was the selection the editors made of his, but it's still a damn good album.

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Tue Mar 01 2022
4

Why is this not on Spotify or Apple Music

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Mon Mar 07 2022
4

This was a cool album. I've been meaning to listen to Gil Scott Heron for a long time. The music is cool, if not a bit subdued in order to give more focus to his lyrics. My favorite track was the last one, which was pretty funny while also making a lot of good points. I'd like to come back to this album when I've got more time to focus on what he's saying 4/5

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Wed Mar 16 2022
4

Das war sehr cool. Scott-Heron ist eh ne Legende aber das scheint eher ein Deep cut zu sein und hat mir sehr gut gefallen, vor allem diese crowd interaction und der h20 gate track

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Wed Mar 16 2022
4

sehr gut und an manchen stellen witzig?

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Fri Apr 01 2022
4

Huh, the other Gil Scott-Heron stuff I've listened to has been almost entirely spoken word, so it was a surprise there was so much singing on here. There's a lot to enjoy - funk, soul, jazz, and a little of that spoken word I was hankering for... Fave track - "H2Ogate Blues" - that was great, and educational too!

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Wed Apr 06 2022
4

Finally got around to listening to this one - absolutely great stuff. The mix of proto-rap with the ethereal flute-heavy free jazz creates a great soundscape

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Wed Apr 13 2022
4

Who will survive. Gil Scott-Heron met de grote woorden der waarheid over den USA. Prachtig

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Wed Apr 13 2022
4

J’adore la sensibilité de Gil Scott-Heron. Cet album est une sorte de chaînon manquant entre plein de choses, dont certaines sont encore à venir. 4/5 à cause d’une certaine redondance dans les styles musicaux.

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Tue Apr 19 2022
4

Disco en vivo movido y de gran calidad. Mucho diálogo con la gente, que corea las canciones varias veces y le agrega a la experiencia. Buenos arreglos y en general gran groove. 3.5 que suben.

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Sun Apr 24 2022
4

Very interesting use of spoken word and jazz. I really enjoyed it.

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