Monday, April 01, 2019

Poetymology: Gil Scott-Heron 70

The new month begins with what would have been the 70th birthday of one of the formative, bedrock artists of all times.
He struggled with drink-n-drugs for much of his too-brief life, but that didn't stop him from helping to invent much of what we now take for granted as the musical world around us.
He is often termed the Godfather of Rap, but he hated that assignment and wasn't all that fond of Rap either, which he found too heavy on empty posturing and too light on insight.
If anyone could ever be termed an American griot, it would be he. If you listened to every song and spoken-word piece he ever created back to back, you'd never get to the part where he compromised his values and his message.
One time 20 years ago, I was depressed and ready to end my life, but couldn't because my favorite record of his was making its CD debut in weeks and I had to hang on some kind of way.
His songs transmit eternal, common sense concepts and truths our colonized minds wouldn't really be prepared for if we all were to live to be 10,000.
Every musician-activist since he emerged at the start of the 1970s owes him the debt of their pulpit, simply because no one crossed the boundaries of the musical and political quite like he did, and no one likely will ever again if the CIA-controlled music "industry" has anything to say on the subject.
For me, there are two pillar poets of the music of our age, who emerged from the literary firmament to set unreachably lofty standards for the merging of word, sound and power.
One is Leonard Cohen. The other is Gil Scott-Heron, born this day in 1949.
If not for the apocalyptic allure of the freebase pipe, he might be still here to celebrate, and who can even speculate upon what he might say or sing about our current, rapidly dehumanizing human condition? But celebrate we must.
And to do so in the appropriate style, we have what the 100 Greatest Bootlegs site has at #58 on their all-time hit parade, itself surely one of the most essential unauthorized live recordings ever made.
The story of this one is a technological tale of legend in its own right, and has this two hours of unalloyed musical truthtelling getting captured by one of the first prototype digital PCM recorders to feature 16/48 resolution, made by Denon in 1977.
As usual, I tweaked its blemishes -- there were 270 separate instances of digital clipping that I manually removed, for instance -- to place it into a state virtually indistinguishable from an official live thing and worthy of its well-documented and multivarious blessings.
Gil Scott-Heron & The Midnight Band
The Bottom Line
New York City, NY
8.20.1977

01 Gil's opening rap/New Deal
02 Gumbai
03 Racetrack In France
04 95 South
05 Hello Sunday, Hello Road
06 It's Your World
07 Home Is Where the Hatred Is
08 We Almost Lost Detroit
09 Vildgolia (Deaf, Dumb & Blind)
10 Winter In America
11 Under the Hammer
12 The Bottle
13 Johannesburg

Total time: 1:53:55
disc break goes after Track 07, but you'll have to convert to 16/44 before you burn because these files are 16/48s

Gil Scott-Heron - electric piano, percussion & vocals
Brian Jackson - piano, electric piano, clavinet, synthesizers, flute, percussion & vocals
Allan Barnes - saxophones, flute, synthesizers & percussion
Reggie Brisbane - drums & percussion
Sigmund Dillard - bass & percussion
Delbert Taylor - trumpet, flugelhorn & percussion
Barnett Williams - djembe, congas & percussion

the full performance, allegedly recorded by a early prototype DAT recorder; spectral analysis goes not much past 15 kHz
declipped & retracked with microgaps removed by EN, March 2019
751 MB FLAC here
This one circulates in all sorts of strange iterations, and many are lossy-sourced. I made sure to work on the lossless version, because fuck mp3s. I mean, CD audio is lacking enough.... what's 1/11th of it gonna sound like?
I also left the files at the 48K sampling rate at which Mr. 1977 Proto-DAT deck captured it, because I felt, when I compared it to the 16/44 CD Audio version I made, the bass had more overall body and bounce at the higher rate.
So if you wanna burn this to CDs, you will have to dumb it down to the normal 16/44.... sorry, but sonics come first and besides, burning CDs is so totally 2003.
I'll be right back at it tomorrow with another big tribute to another artist without whose output life would in no way be worth living, but right now you gotta grab this definitive edition of Gil's most beloved bootleg and play it as loud as you need to overthrow the existing, corrupt and unsustainable order in honor of his birthday. And no, your inner Revolution need not be televised.--J.
4.1.1949 - 5.27.2011