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GIL SCOTT-HERON

Gil Scott-Heron

We're New Again – A Re-imagining By Makaya McCraven

To mark the tenth anniversary of the release of "I’m New Here", the thirteenth - and last - studio album from the legendary US musician, poet and author Gil Scott-Heron, XL Recordings release a unique reinterpretation of the album by acclaimed US jazz musician Makaya McCraven. Titled "We’re New Again", the album's release comes exactly a decade after the release of Scott-Heron’s original Richard Russell-produced recording. Following in the footsteps of Jamie xx’s highly acclaimed 2011 remix album "We’re New Here", this is McCraven’s first release of 2020, following the huge global acclaim heaped upon his 2018 album "Universal Beings". One of the most vital new voices in modern jazz, McCraven is described by the New York Times as a "Chicago-based drummer, producer and beat maker, [who] has quietly become one of the best arguments for jazz’s vitality".

Gil Scott-Heron

I'm New Here - 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition

In February 2010, the late, legendary musician, poet and author Gil Scott-Heron released his thirteenth, and last, studio album. First conceptualised in 2005, and ultimately produced by XL Recordings head Richard Russell during New York recording sessions that commenced in January 2008, "I’m New Here" was Scott-Heron’s first album in thirteen years and found him sounding as vital, boundary-pushing and insightful as ever before.

In addition to the original album, this 'I'm New Here' 10th Anniversary Edition features two unreleased tracks - a cover of Richie Havens’ 'Handsome Johnny’ and a previously unheard Scott-Heron song 'King Henry IV’ - as well as a selection of other recordings from the original I’m New Here sessions that were only previously available on a rare, vinyl only deluxe version of the LP.

"Ten years ago I was in the midst of recording “I’m New Here” with Gil. There was a lot more to the experience than it was possible to process at the time, and there was some great material that never made it onto the album. Our cover of “Handsome Jonny” was the last recording Gil and I made on the last day of the last session for “I’m New Here”, at Clinton Studio in Hell’s Kitchen, NY, on September 19, 2009. Gil had introduced me to the original version of the song, explaining how Richie Havens had performed it in his opening set at Woodstock some forty years earlier, and we added it to a list of material we were considering for the album. In the end we recorded some of these songs, like Bobby Blue Bland’s “I’ll Take Care Of You”, Bill Callahan’s “I’m New Here” and Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil”, and didn’t get round to some others, including Joy Divison’s “Disorder”." - producer Richard Russell

STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: There's little that can be said about this legendary outing from XL head Richard Russell and the great GSH that hasn't already been said, it's an absolutely essential listen, and this expanded edition makes it even moreso. A wildly groundbreaking and influential recording.

FORMAT INFORMATION

2xColoured LP Info: Double LP (one green and one pink disc).

Being the hip, musically minded record shopper you are, I assume you're well aware of Gil Scott-Heron's 2010 comeback, "I'm New Here". Depensing on your vintage, you may not be as acquanited with his 1994 comeback "Spirits", which enjoys a 25th anniversary reissue here. On its release, it was the first new material from the revolutionary poet and musician for 12 years, and found Gil in fine voice and sharp mind. The title track is an interpretation of the John Coltrane piece, and "The Other Side" is a live version of Scott-Heron's 1971 track "Home is Where the Hatred Is" with a new arrangement and many new verses that expand the original to nearly twenty minutes. It was later sampled for "Home" on the 2011 Jamie XX collaboration album We're New Here.

Gil Scott-Heron

Small Talk At 125th And Lenox - OST Recordings Edition

The debut album by Gil Scott-Heron, reissued on vinyl for the first time utilising the original masters. 180g vinyl pressing in heavyweight reverse board sleeve.

“Small Talk At 125th And Lenox” was the start of a 45-year recording career for Gil Scott-Heron. He became one of the best-loved and most respected artists of the late 20th Century, but never again released an album as simple and hard-hitting as this. Recorded in 1970, “Small Talk” featured Gil and three percussionists performing his poetry, the rhythmic backdrop and the style of his delivery making it more than a spoken word record. Today it is seen as a classic that stands head and shoulders above similar albums recorded at the time.

Gil was resolutely a poet, and there is little doubt he could have made his career as an author, as he had originally planned. Throughout the album he writes as a reporter, viewing his community, attempting to make a difference. Better-known today in the band version from his next LP, the original version of ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ here is enthralling and compelling in its own right. ‘Whitey On The Moon’ contrasts the money being spent on the space race against the poverty of the housing projects, while ‘Paint It Black’ compares the black situation in the northern and southern states. There are also three songs, including the Donny Hathaway-esque ‘Who’ll Pay Reparations On My Soul?’, that hint at what was to come.

Gil had gone to Flying Dutchman owner Bob Thiele hoping to record his music. The producer didn’t have the funds at the time, so compromised with this album. Its success prompted him to put Gil and his songwriting partner Brian Jackson in the studio to record with some of New York’s finest session players. The resulting “Pieces Of A Man” album pointed the way forward for Gil’s career, but “Small Talk At 125th And Lenox” was a spectacular start.


"In 2005, having decided to approach Gil Scott-Heron to suggest that we made a record, I stopped listening to any of his previous output. This was to avoid feeling intimidated by the weight of Gil's musical history, and by the sheer quality of the 14 studio albums he'd released since 1970.

Part of my initial suggestion to Gil was that we recorded sparse, stripped down versions of his old songs. We both thought that might make an intriguing album. So we started off recording versions of some of Gil's repertoire, just voice and piano. But our album gradually evolved into something different - "I'm New Here", which as the title suggested, didn't touch on any of Gil's previous recordings (except for "Your Soul And Mine", which is a re-imagining of "The Vulture" from Gil's 1970 debut LP "Small Talk at 125th and Lennox").

I didn't pay much attention to the acoustic versions of Gil's older repertoire that we had recorded, as I was so focused on our making an entirely new album. We didn't make the album we set out to; we made something different.

In November 2011, six months after Gil died, I sat down to listen to the whole of Gil's back catalogue, on vinyl, album by album, chronologically. It's an incredible body of work; 13 albums between 1970 and 1982, and then 2 ("Spirits" and "I'm New Here") until Gil passed in 2011. I did this as a sort of meditative exercise, for the joy of sitting and listening to Gil, now that I was no longer getting to hear his voice down the phone from Harlem.

I listened to these 15 albums over the course of a few weeks as a way to keep our communication going. They led me back to the acoustic piano versions of Gil's old songs that we had captured in New York and I found that they were in themselves remarkable; completely different to the originals, and full of magic in their simplicity. I realised we in fact had made the album we originally set out to, as well as "I'm New Here". We had recorded an album's worth of new, stripped down versions of some of Gil's best (but not necessarily best known) songs. We had recorded an album I thought should be called "Nothing New".

"Nothing New" is recordings Gil and I made in New York of songs he chose from his catalogue, just voice and piano, pure Gil. I realised that each song he had chosen was from a different album of his. He had carefully curated the selection, so the album serves as an excellent introduction to his previous output.

In our early letters, Gil had picked up on my use of the word "spartan" to describe how our record could be. The Oxford dictionary defines "spartan" as showing "indifference to comfort or luxury". Very Gil. "Nothing New" is truly spartan in that it is utterly sparse and devoid of anything that is not completely necessary. All it contains is Gil's singing and piano playing.

You also hear excerpts of our conversations between takes; these give a sense of Gil's profound and profane nature. I believe Gil would approve of calling an album of him covering his own material "Nothing New"; the wordplay is inspired by him. Gil once expressed that he felt our album "could do with a few more yuks" - so now you can check out some of Gil's asides, and particularly the final interlude "On Bobby Blue Bland" for a glimpse of the man's playful sense of humour.

Once I'd compiled and edited these songs, I made three acetates, and we screenprinted artwork at XL. I gave one of these three special copies to Gil's son Rumal Rackley, sent another to Gil's friend and keyboard player Kim Jordan in Washington DC, and the third went to Ms Mimi, who kept Gil's house in order. This could have been the end of the process, but Rumal felt we should share this work with people - so here it is.

I hope you enjoy this album. It completes the set of 3 albums generated from our sessions in New York between 2005 and 2009 - the first 2 records being the main work "I'm New Here" and Jamie xx's remix album "We're New Here".

This is "Nothing New"."

Richard Russell, XL Recordings, London, 2014

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP Info: Includes DVD 'Who Is Gil Scott-Heron?'.

LP includes MP3 Download Code.

Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX

We're New Here

XL Recordings / Young Turks throw up an eye-catching collision here, as the "I'm New Here" album by elder statesman of soul-jazz and blues Gil Scott-Heron gets reworked by young pretender to the throne of future beats, Jamie Smith. It's one thing to ride the wave of Internet-generated hype, another to come out the other end with something substantial that will make the 'best of year' lists. "We're New Here" surpasses expectations, with Jamie's production taking Gil's world-weary bluesy confessionals to another dimension entirely. As you'd expect, rather than by-the-numbers hobnail-booted 'BASS' reworks for the club, these are incredibly subtle remixes. A delicate balance is made between the original tracks and Jamie's futuristic production, with Scott-Heron's distinctive baritone weaving in and out of the new mixes.

Also, "We're New Here" goes further than just remaking the cuts from "I'm New Here", also adding bonus interpretations like "Home", and amazing sub-aquatic dissection of "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" that almost pulls apart at the seams. Standout cuts include the slo-mo hip hop-soul plod of "My Cloud", steppers beats on "Ur Soul And Mine", future bass bounce of "NY Is Killing Me" and anthemic piano house outro "I'll Take Care Of You". A gauntlet thrown down to other forward-looking beats producers, and one of the most inspiring remix albums around right now, "We're New Here" takes a giant step forward.



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