“Reflections” by Gil Scott-Heron - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1981Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

At long, long, last Scott-Heron broadens his genre range and consequently rises in my affections. I'm so pleased, I don't even mind the jazzy flourishes so much. The set was recorded at T.O.N.T.O., Santa Monica, California, between April & June, 1981, and BIAS Studio, Springfield, Virginia in June, 1981, once again with The Amnesia Express as his backing group, together with a number of guests. A sign of a new willingness to mix it up is apparent on the album's reggae opener, “Storm Music”, followed by a slinky and groovy cover of “Grandma’s Hands” (Bill Withers, 1971). Finger-clicking bass-wanderer “Is That Jazz?” is followed by the slow-paced rumination of “Morning Thoughts” with prose both beautiful and hopeful: “morning thoughts begin as Midnight black gives way to morning cracks of sunshine, morning as a new day beginning with all its bright interpretive promise, shine down then sunshine on Zimbabwe on El Salvador on Namibia on Poland, wherever a man would dare stand up for a change”.

The coolly delivered cover of “Inner City Blues” (Marvin Gaye, 1971) greatly improves on the original, the mid-song rap contributing to my favourable rating. Mid-tempo funker “Gun” questions the logic of America's pro-gun lobbyists: “The philosophy seems to be, at least as near as I can see, when other folks give up theirs, I'll give up mine.” Well said that man. The epic closer, “B Movie” serves the opening gambit: “The first thing I want to say is, mandate my ass.” Now that you're sitting uncomfortably, he'll begin with his trademark satirical take down of America's political movers and shakers. The 12-minute piece is split into three super-impressive “movements” in the shape of some relaxed chat, an explosive poem then sung vocals to finish. The “B Movie” star is President Ronald Raygun, only in place because John Wayne is no longer available. The lunatics have taken over the asylum, and Scott-Heron's much-praised and much-publicised state-of-the-nation address sent ripples around the country, the label even going so far as to send copies to every member of congress: “This ain't really your life, Ain't really your life, Ain't really ain't nothing but a movie.” Talk about getting your message across! According to rebel sensibilities the A-side registers a 4.93, but the B-side rocks a 6.93, the whole 2 whole points raise representing a massive upswing in my ratings system. More of this please Gil.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [05:04] 5.2.png Gil Scott-Heron - Storm Music (Gil Scott-Heron) Reggae
A2 [05:27] 4.9.png Gil Scott-Heron - Grandma’s Hands (Bill Withers) Disco / Funk
A3 [03:46] 4.5.png Gil Scott-Heron - Is That Jazz? [album version 1981] (Gil Scott-Heron, Glen Turner) Jazz
A4 [04:42] 5.1.png Gil Scott-Heron - Morning Thoughts (Gil Scott-Heron, James) Jazz
B1 [05:51] 7.3.png Gil Scott-Heron - Inner City Blues (Marvin Gaye, James Nyx) Blues / Rhythm n Blues
B2 [04:02] 5.3.png Gil Scott-Heron - Gun (Gil Scott-Heron) Disco / Funk
B3 [12:11] 8.2.png Gil Scott-Heron - B Movie (Gil Scott-Heron) Disco / Funk

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