Socialist Worker

A reminder of Gil Scott-Heron’s classic album

by Nick Grant
Issue No. 2776

Pieces of a Man: Gil Scott-Heron’s classic album

Pieces of a Man: Gil Scott-Heron’s classic album


At 22 years old, Gil Scott‑Heron produced an artistic milestone 50 years ago.

His debut music album Pieces Of A Man projected a new and unique voice, radical politics, top musicianship, and sympathetic studio production by Bob Thiele.

Sky Arts has now produced an excellent assessment of this classic album.

Jazz writer Ashley Kahn says it was the equal of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin On and Sly Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin On, also released that year.

Gil’s writing and performing buddy Brian Jackson recaptures exactly how each track unfolded in the recording studio.

It is a delight to hear so much from Jackson given his relative anonymity in recent decades.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is Gil’s best‑known track.

It’s a dig in the ribs of some black radicals that cared more for fashion and TV than revolutionary organisation at the time.

Home Is Where The Hatred Is sadly foreshadowed Gil’s own final descent into drug and booze self-destruction.

But it contains a tour de force contribution from Ron Carter on bass. Lady Day and John Coltrane is drummer Bernard Purdie’s time to shine.

But it’s the little known title track that still deserves greater respect. It is an utterly beautiful, sparse evocation at funereal speed of the deep shame redundancy foists on a working man, told from his young son’s viewpoint. Carter again turns in a stunning performance, as does Jackson on piano.

Even if you don’t have Sky Arts, treat yourself to a copy of this wonderful album from someone or somewhere. Then check out all Gil’s subsequent work. Nobody else wrote such great tunes for your head, heart and feet.

Classic Albums: Gil Scott-Heron—Pieces Of A Man is available now on Sky Arts

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