SCOTT-HERON, GIL – Pieces Of A Man

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"...The album’s title track masterfully peels back the layers of a person’s psyche through strife and that attention to detail is mirrored throughout the remaining songs. A full band—led by Scott-Heron’s career-long collaborator Brian Jackson—brought something out in his poetry that congas alone couldn’t quite achieve. “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” feels like an intergenerational biography of someone who fled their cookie-cutter hometown for a big city, haunted by the trauma that resurfaces when they go back to visit. Like much of Scott-Heron’s early work, it also centers the experiences of people dealing with addiction, flipping the script on those who are quick to judge: “You keep saying, kick it, quit it, kick it, quit it. God, but did you ever try/To turn your sick soul inside out. So that the world, so that the world. Can watch you die?” On “Lady Day and John Coltrane,” he sings the praises of two jazz deities whose music can soothe the grave realities of life. Jackson’s piano and Ron Carter’s bass, when given time to exist without vocals, emphasize the grief in Scott-Heron’s cries of a downtrodden existence on “A Sign of the Ages.”

The feelings expressed on Pieces of a Man are those of someone processing grief in real time. Scott-Heron spent his formative years watching the assassinations of Black American liberation fighters. Less than two years before the album was released, the 21-year-old activist and Black Panther Party deputy chairman Fred Hampton was murdered in his sleep by Chicago police. Hampton was just two years older than Scott-Heron and, like the singer, had the heart to not only hold the U.S. accountable for its crimes against its Black citizens in his work, but to take an active part in building the world that he wanted to live in (the message Scott-Heron was pushing in “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”). Scott-Heron is also grieving the deterioration of the people who are still hanging on here. The influx of soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War to empty promises of upward mobility and new heroin addictions was also taking a toll on Black communities at this time. Years before his own struggles became apparent, tales of addiction were already a fixture in Scott-Heron’s music. The pain-filled melodies in Pieces of a Man are a response to feeling like the world is caving in on you."

- Lawrence Burney, Pitchfork

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 2:59
Save The Children 4:55
Lady Day And John Coltrane 3:10
Home Is Where The Hatred Is 3:15
When You Are Who You Are 3:01
I Think I'll Call It Morning 3:45
Pieces Of A Man 4:22
A Sign Of The Ages 4:05
Or Down You Fall 3:08
The Needle's Eye 4:01
The Prisoner 8:39