Catch-All: A term or category that includes a variety of different possibilities.
One of the many covers displaying his mug. I was duped!
Greatest hits albums just aren’t my thing. One of my favorite things about music is to be taken on a journey by way of a deliberate, intentional sequencing of songs. There are a few compilations and collections among my records but I mostly pick them up from bargain bins. I don’t seek them out nor do I listen to them frequently. In the case of The Mind Of Gil Scott-Heron, it was a mistaken, intentional purpose that I paid full price for at a record shop. A lot of his album covers look similar, which wasn’t uncommon at the time. As a massive fan of the man and his music, I wasn’t happy with my mistake.
Gil Scott-Heron was an author, musician and poet, among other things. He was a politically-charged speaker and excellent songwriter. Unfortunately, this album is a collection of his spoken word material written and performed live between 1973 and 1978. Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with talky talk. I dig comedy albums, anecdotal storytellers and lectures. The issue with this album is that the content is terribly dated. It is difficult to even listen to it as a period piece because it is so strongly opinionated and preachy. I’m not suggesting that I disagree with any of the topics present here but it is all so terribly dated that it is hard to get invested.
Full price for this quality? This, folks is why you should ALWAYS pull the record out for inspection at the record store. What even is that? I shouldn’t have asked.
The vocal delivery is all very good. Scott-Heron is a master wordsmith who can rhythmically add interesting flourishes to any topic. I could listen to him read the ingredients of every item at the grocery store and be thrilled, though that doesn’t mean I want him to. The Ghetto Code showcases his talents as a speaker particularly well and is both intriguing and biting. Of all the spoken word chit-chat on display I’d say that this is the most compelling. As for the rest, go read a history book.
Things are wrapped up with the song Bicentennial Blues which is a track taken from the album It’s Your World. Both the tempo of the music and the delivery of the vocals are interestingly similar to rap music. It is way ahead of its time and an excellent song but, sadly, not worth the purchase of this dated record. For curious people I’d suggest listening to the entire album online for free. I cannot recommend spending even a dollar on the material present here strictly due to how antiquated the topics are. Instead, I’d recommend any of his music albums produced in the ’70s. Pieces Of Man is the most popular entryway into Gil Scott-Heron’s catalogue and a helluva place to get started. Winter In America is also very good as is all of the work he did with Brian Jackson. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing The Mind Of Gil Scott-Heron like I did when there are so many better albums of his out there. You can thank me for my heroic warning later. I suffered so you don’t have to.
H20 Gate Blues
We Beg Your Pardon (Pardon Our Analysis)
The New Deal
Jose Campos Torres
The Ghetto Code (Dot Dot Dit Dit Dot Dot Dash)