Gil Scott-Heron. 5 songs. a playlist.

(in memory of  Gil Scott-Heron 1949-2011)

Perhaps it’s the price to pay: to lose yourself since you got such a clear view of our post-industrial, media dependent society with all its contradictions and you were able to convey (power of the art) a truth that through breaths, words and music becomes immortal poetry. A place to call home is just the price you pay (the idea of “home” as expression of the stability of a man’s mind); its images, the arrows as in A. Mantegna’ St. Sebastian.

Gil, a martyr. Our martyr.

GIL SCOTT-HERON: A PLAYLIST

5 great songs that define the man, his art and his values. and, yes, there are all on Spotify.

1) “Whitey on the Moon” from “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox” (1970)

Album and song, personal favourites of mine. Not yet a singer but already a fully developed lyricist of rare talent. Clever, ironic, funny, sarcastic, caustic. Some of the words you would associate to this young man, America will come to know better in the following decade. This number here would have easily fit into Richard Pryor’s repertoire.

2) “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” from “Pieces of a Man” (1971)

Proto-Rap? Spoken Poetry? A real masterpiece does not fit into any category. It’s 1969, people are marching on the streets but the TV is here to reassure you: the new toilet cleaner is the best the market has ever offered. The revolution will not be televised.

3) “Home is Where The Hatred is” from “Pieces of a Man” (1971)

“Pieces of a Man” is Gil’s best LP. Hard to pick just two out of it. This one tells you with an exquisite funk melody how though the ghetto is and the price you end up paying living there.

4) “The Bottle” from “Winter in America” (1974)

Ya see that man over there? He is telling you that legal drugs can destroy lives just as the illegal ones. Surprisingly, Gil’s most successful single. Actually, no surprise at all. Music is great. That flute!

5) “Storm Music” from “Reflections” (1981)

This one goes along with “Lady Day and John Coltrane”. From Johannesburg to Montego Bay, do not underrate the power of music. It can save lives. Fine reggae-ish number.

Enjoy.

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Sibylle Baier. colour green.

The poetry of this story.

Nighttime. There is a young woman, a model/actress*, playing an acoustic guitar and singing close to a reel to reel tape recorder. She is doing it quietly, she does not want to bother her husband and her little son that are sleeping in the other room.

She started writing songs after a trip with a friend. from Strasbourg to Genoa. No one outside her circle of family and friends was supposed to listen to them. And things stayed like that for more than 30 years until her son gave a copy of those recordings to J Mascis.

2006. Orange Twin, an indie record label, puts out “Colour Green”, a selection of those recordings.

14 songs.

Again: Sybille, her soft voice, her everyday stories of undisturbed innocence, an acoustic guitar played the way L. Cohen used to, that room and the quiet night.

Songwriting at its purest.

*you can see her in Wim Wender’s “Alice in the Cities” (1974)

Enjoy.

David Peel & Death. king of punk.

Interesting facts about Mr. David Peel:

  1. his debut album (1968 on Elektra Records) is the first major label LP to contain the word                 motherf-cker
  2. good friend with John Lennon and Yoko Ono (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThUkPscsUEU), he was signed to Apple Records, The Beatles’ record label.
  3. the LP he put out while on Apple Records is the infamous “The Pope Smokes Dope”. It was, of course, a flop but a legendary one.

In 1978, with the punk/CBGB scene on the rise, he decided to claim his status of First Punk, King of Punk. Roaming the streets of the Lower East Side (name of his first band as well) since 1968!

And he did it in his style with an epochal “F-ck You” to all the greatest US and UK punk bands of the time. All namechecked.

The music? the highly distorted riff is taken from the classic “Steppin’ Stone” and his band provides great, shouted out loud backing vocals.

The importance and the greatness of this song do not end here. His critique of the punk scene is very clever indeed. He addresses the drug issue that was plaguing the scene:

everything you think is cool when you’re stoned

Using his hippie rhetoric he underlines the need for real punk bands to speak for and to the man on the street:

If you wanna be a punk, go live on the street. Power to the people singing on the street.

Power to the people. uh, Patti Smith?

A Classic!

Enjoy.

Peter Green. the end of the game.

Some people can play guitar and some can’t. It’s that easy.

In the late ’60s/early ’70s, Peter Green was heading towards hell.

In 1970 he left Fleetwood Mac in May and a month later recorded the jam session later edited and published as “The End of the Game”, his first solo album.

You’re not going to find “songs” in here; just one of the greatest guitarist of all time, in his prime, jamming and experimenting with these guys:

  • Zoot Money – piano
  • Nick Buck – keyboards
  • Alex Dmochowski – bass guitar
  • Godfrey Maclean – drums, percussion

Peter will come back at the end of the decade with new, critically acclaimed LPs but whatever inspired him “The End of Game”, that fire, was gone forever. For the better, maybe.

Just like the angry tiger on the cover of the record, you want to stay away from these fires. They can burn you from the inside out. Peter Green knows it.

Enjoy.

Willie Loco Alexander. Gin.

A legend. yes. no euphemism.

Have a look at his “CV”.

Willie started his career as founder of The Lost, one the best garage bands of the 60s. He then joined Doug Yule’s Velvet Underground (the band nobody wants to talk about) replacing a guy named Lou Reed. He has since written a dozen of albums as a solo artist, with his Boom Boom Band and The Confessions (his early 80’s band under contract with the French punk rock label New Rose Records). Honestly, it’s hard to keep track of all his projects throughout the decades.

The Music? A Garage Rock hero, with his piano/keyboards he has played Rock & Roll, Punk, New Wave and everything in between.

A talented lyricist as well, one who pays great attention to the sound of each word.

Gin, written for a then girlfriend, is not his most famous song (check out the timeless “Kerouac”) but its fresh new wave sound made it an instant classic.

Enjoy.

Aleka’s Attic. scales and fishnails.

They say River wanted to be a musician. That he didn’t really care about his movie star status and his career in Hollywood. All he wanted was to write songs, jam with friends and perform live.

Aleka’s Attic, the band he put together with his sister Rain and some friends, was his attempt at starting a music career.

The band recorded and performed live dozen of songs but disbanded in 1992 after a record deal with Island Records fell through. Their album remains unreleased to these days.

River kept writing and performing live until his death in 1993 and recorded a song “Height Down” with John Frusciante (available on the “lost” album “Smile from the streets you hold”).

“Scales and Fishnails” is a short ballad (44 seconds), an acoustic lullaby sung by River and Rain. Sweet, charming and impossibly beautiful for a song so short I’d say.

Enjoy.

Elvis Perkins. while you were sleeping.

Son of actor Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho). His mother, a photographer, died on 9/11 (a passenger of one of the flights that hit the Twin Towers).

Elvis wrote “While you were sleeping” for his first album “Ash Wednesday” (9/11 was a Tuesday) originally released in 2006. Neutral Milk Hotel, David Gray, Nick Drake and so on were mentioned as influences for the record.

“While you were sleeping” is simply one of the greatest songs of the past decade.                                                                                                                                                       In my top 10, for sure.

Lyrically a masterpiece (I can imagine the media frenzy if Bob Dylan had come up with those lyrics), it appears to be an intense and moving tribute to his mother.

  While you were sleeping your babies grew…

Here, Elvis playing the single version of the song live at The Late Show with David Letterman. A way to appreciate the arrangement: 4 instruments slowly join the singer to send the song into the stratosphere. Talk about great songwriting!

Enjoy.

 

Phoenix. 2017.

Late 2015.

Have Records – Will Spin was born as a 9 episodes’ music show on FuseFM, University of Manchester’s student radio. The name, an homage to Have Guns – Will Travel, CBS Radio Network’s western drama show aired between November 23, 1958, and November 27, 1960. Western Radio Drama? What’s that? Sounds nonsense, right? Just like buying a record nowadays. To most people, at least. Got it?

9 playlists. 9 stories. Here’s the list:

  • Tonight it’s about us
  • Kick out the jams! Some of the best Live Records
  • The Darker the Flesh, The Deeper the Roots
  • The lost art of a good duet
  • A rock and roll teenager in the noughties
  • Still remember the Golden Age of Hip Hop
  • Put on your most extravagant clothes, it’s Glam-O-Rama night (’70s style)
  • One sunny afternoon in the ’90s
  • Young, excitable, nervous, on the run in the 80s

You can still listen to them on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/haverecords.willspin/

Feb 2017.

Have Records – Will Spin is reborn. Eclectic jukebox of old and new stories. Good Music.

At your service.

haveguncard