“I’m New Here”, Gil Scott-Heron’s first album in 13 years came out in back in February but is still worth talking about. Especially with Scott-Heron about to play a series of UK and Irish dates to support the record. Volcanic ash notwithstanding...
I’ve got this record twice. A digital copy to review and then a physical copy via Rough Trade's The Album Club. Scott-Heron’s advice to the Album Club listener was:
Listen to it for the first time under optimum conditions.
Not in your car or on portable player through a headset
Take it home.
Get rid of all distractions (even him or her).
Turn off your cell phone.
Turn off everything that rings or beeps or rattles or whistles.
Make yourself comfortable.
Play your CD.
LISTEN all the way through.
Think about what you’ve got.
If you haven’t heard or bought this record you should do so – immediately - and you should follow Gil’s advice. To the letter.
“I’m New Here” is book-ended by the autobiographical spoken-word pieces (‘On Coming From A Broken Home Parts 1 and 2’). In between you’ll find beat poetry and brooding electronica, cover versions of Robert Johnson and Bill Callahan and spoken word interludes. Such a brief description does not tell the full story. Not of what a truly exceptional record this is nor of the intense, emotional and strongly auto-biographical journey therein.
You can read in full elsewhere what I loved about this record but in summary:
This is an album of big themes: love, despair, redemption and family delivered in a compact 29 minutes that never feels meagre... ‘On Coming From a Broken Home’ may sample Kanye West’s ‘Flashing Lights' and elsewhere the musical backdrop may be nod to Burial or The xx, but this is not the old guard donning the trendy clothes of the now generation or throwing in a few alt-rock covers to gain credibility points. “I’m New Here” is startlingly fresh and contemporary AND true to the spirit and poetry of Gil Scott-Heron’s work. And it is such a powerful and original delivery of his vision that it could well be THE record of 2010 that all others are measured against.
Yes. Seriously. That good. Difficult to choose just two tracks but try the two below via streaming Soundcloud. I didn’t think I could ever hear Bill Callahan covered successfully. How wrong.
Gil Scott-Heron - Where Did The Night Go by FollyOfYouth
Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here by FollyOfYouth
Not sure what relationship Gil Scott-Heron live in 2010 will bear to the man on record in 2010. But this week we hopefully will find out. The Tuesday 20 April gig at the Royal Festival Hall has been cancelled but this statement suggests the Saturday London show will go ahead (but it doesn’t mention other dates). The planned dates are:
Weds April 21- HMV Picture House, Edinburgh
Thurs April 22 - The Warehouse, Aberdeen
Sat April 24 - Royal Festival Hall, London
Sun April 25 - Opera House, Manchester
Sun May 2 - Tripod, Dublin
The Manchester date is all but sold out but if the record is anything to go by you should beg, borrow or kill to get a ticket (or try here for ethical sales/exchanges). And then join the rest of us ticket-holders anxiously waiting on news. UK air space has just re-opened but will air travel still suffer further disruption this week??