Tag Archives: Gil Scott-Heron

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: GIL SCOTT-HERON- ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ (1974)

The godfather of rap and hip-hop and son of Celtic’s first black player

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Gil Heron

Gil Heron 1922-2008

Today we are giving you something well out of our loop as part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’. Whereas normally we’d give you some out of print folk album from the 30s/40s/50s here’s something a bit more recent (still its forty one years young) and, some would say the very first hip-hop/ rap album. Well, I hear you say, so what? Whats the connection to us? Well it’s a little known fact (though it has appeared here before) that Gil Scott Heron’s old man, Gil Heron was the first black player to play for Celtic. Known as ‘The Black Arrow’ the Jamaican-born Heron played one season, 1951-52, in the hoops and played five games and scored two goals. His son, also Gil, is who we celebrate here though. Known in recent years as the ‘Godfather Of Rap’ he was an articulate voice for change but despite being a well respected composer, musician, author and poet he remains best known for writing and performing the spoken-word track ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. He wrote the song when he was just 21 years old and would go on to perform and release several re-workings of it in his lifetime. He once said

“The revolution takes place in your mind. Once you change your mind and decide that there’s something wrong that you want to effect that’s when the revolution takes place. But first you have to look at things and decide what you can do. ‘Something’s wrong and I have to do something about it. I can effect this change.’ Then you become a revolutionary person. It’s not all about fighting. It’s not all about going to war. It’s about going to war with the problem and deciding you can effect that problem. When you want to make things better you’re a revolutionary”

It was never a hit, which suggests that Gil’s point that attempts at revolution are always suppressed by those in power was completely right! It is said that fans would turn up to his gigs wearing Celtic shirts but the poet-singer was estranged from his father until adulthood. Still it is truly amazing that both father and son were such pioneers in their chosen fields. His own term for himself was ‘bluesologist’, which he defined as

“a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues”

GIL SCOTT-HERON- 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' (1974)

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You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
And skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
Blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell
General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog maws
Confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theater and will not star Natalie Woods
And Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner
Because the revolution will not be televised, Brother

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
Pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run
Or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
Or report from 29 districts
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers on the instant replay

There will be no pictures of Whitney Young
Being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkens
Strolling through Watts in a red, black and green
Liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies and Hooter ville Junction
Will no longer be so damned relevant
And women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane
On search for tomorrow because black people
Will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news
And no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
And Jackie Onassis blowing her nose
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones
Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink or the Rare Earth
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be right back after a message
About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom
The tiger in your tank or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised
Will not be televised, will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run brothers
The revolution will be live

I won’t pretend to be too knowledgeable here so I am just gonna put it out there and give you a bit of history about the guy and the album and impact it had and hopefully you will download it and make up your own minds. That after all is all we ever want.

If the people were to rise to rebellion, there will be no news coverage of the event. That is in a nutshell what Gil is getting at. The years preceding this album America was rocked with scandals and assassinations and political strife that had shaken the very foundations of the state. There was a feeling that revolution was on the cards, though looking back it now seems mad to have thought that. Nevertheless some things did change for the better and music was at the forefront of pushing for that change. Gil was known primarily as a jazz musician though ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is more a collection of Rhythm and Blues and spoken poetry. While it would be hard to say that Gil invented rhyming there are definitely parallels between angry poems like ‘Whitey on the Moon’,

“Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies make me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin up
And if all that crap wasn’t enough
A rat done bit my sister nell
With Whitey on the moon”

‘No Knock’ and ‘Brother’ and 1980s onwards hip hop. Poetry doesn’t dominate though and most of the selections illustrate his excellence as a singer, including ‘Home Is Where the Hatred Is’

“A junkie walking through the twilight
I’m on my way home
I left three days ago, but no one seems to know I’m gone
Home is where the hatred is
Home is filled with pain and it,
might not be such a bad idea if I never, never went home again”

‘Did You Hear What They Said?’ and the poignant ‘Save the Children’. One of the less political tracks is ‘Lady Day and John Coltrane’, an R&B classic that articulates how easily jazz can lift a person’s spirits. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is  not the last word on Scott-Heron’s but it’s certainly one of the best places to start if you’re exploring his work for the first time. Besides influencing contemporary musicians, Gil remained active until his death in 2011. A memoir he had been working on for years up to the time of his death, ‘The Last Holiday’, was published, posthumously in January 2012.

“My father still keeps up with what Celtic are doing. You Scottish folk always mention that my Dad played for Celtic, it’s a blessing from the spirits! Like that’s two things that Scottish folks love the most; music and football and they got one representative from each of those from my family!”

Tracklist
1. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
2. Sex Education – Ghetto Style
3. The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues
4. No Knock
5. Lady Day And John Coltrane
6. Pieces Of A Man
7. Home Is Where The Hatred Is
8. Brother
9. Save The Children
10. Whitey On The Moon
11. Did You Hear What They Said
12. When You Are Who You Are
13. I Think I’ll Call It Morning
14. A Sign Of The Ages
15. Or Down You Fall
16. The Needle’s Eye
17. The Prisoner

DEDICATED TO ROBERT KING

Robert King

Robert Hillary King, aka Robert King Wilkerson, was part of a trio of American political prisoners collectively known as The Angola Three. Robert became a Celtic supporter through the influence of Gil and recently appeared on worldwide televison wearing the hoops. Robert’s membership in the only prison-recognized chapter of the Black Panther Party, and his work organizing against prison injustices, resulted in his being targeted for retaliation by prison officials. Despite overwhelming evidence exonerating him, prison-snitch testimony alone convicted him and he received a life sentence for the death of a fellow inmate. Robert’s tenacity in proving his innocence came to fruition when a Federal Appeals Court finally found him “probably innocent.” In February 2001, after thirty-one years of imprisonment and twenty-nine continuous years of solitary confinement, King walked out of the gates of Angola Prison a free man. He has spoken at universities, conferences and other venues. He has made appearances on radio and television and addressed members of the European Parliament. He worked hard to win the release of his comrades, the release of all political prisoners, and an end to the new slavery that is the Prison Industrial Complex.

“I may be free from Angola, but Angola will never be free of me!”

find out more about the Angola Three case here.

Part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’ series (here) where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re use to. Lost gems that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

TRIBUTE TO GIL HERON- MICHAEL MARRA AND THE HAZEY JANES

Gil Heron 1922-2008

Gil Heron was a Jamaican professional footballer. He was the first black player to play for Celtic, and was the father of poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron. He was spotted by a scout from Celtic while the club was on tour in North America, and he signed for the club in 1951 after being invited over for a trial. He went on to score on his debut, in a League Cup tie against Morton that Celtic won 2-0. Heron only played five first-team matches in all, scoring twice. He passed away in Detroit of a heart attack on 27 November 2008.

When Duke was in the Lebanon
Groovin’ for the human race
Gil flew high in the western sky
On a mission full of style and grace
From Jamaica to the Kingston Bridge
He was inclined to roam
Drawn to the flame of the beautiful game
Here was a brother who would not stay home

Higher, raise the bar higher
He made his way across the sea
So that all men could brothers be

When Miles was on the jukebox
And Monk was on the air
Gil crossed the ocean to the other side
To play for Celtic with a noble stride
The arrow flew, he’s flying yet
His aim is true so we don’t forget
What it means when his name we hear
The hopes and dreams of every pioneer

Higher, raise the bar higher
He made his way across the sea
So that all men could brothers be

Written by Michael Marra

Michael Marra was a singer-songwriter and musician from Dundee, Scotland. Known as the Bard of Dundee, Marra was a solo performer mainly known as a songwriter, he also worked extensively in theatre, radio and television. His songwriting was rooted in Scottish life and he found an audience within and beyond the folk music scene. Sadly he passed away in October 2012 after he collaborated with fellow Dundee indie band The Hazey Janes on a six track EP called ‘Houseroom’. Michael was the father of two band members of the Hazey Janes.

Buy The EP

MusicScotland

Contacts

Michael Marra WebSite

The Hazey Janes WebSite

superb article from The Shamrock here entitled ‘The Noble Stride- Celtic And The Pioneering Herons’.

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