Gil Scott-Heron
Pieces of a Man


3.5
great

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
November 13th, 2009 | 16 replies | 8,496 views


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A great soul record with a timeless, peerless intro.

Let's get one thing straight - Pieces of a Man doesn't even start until the third track. Don't get suckered in by the two before it.

The much-referenced "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is a great song, worthy of its plaudits as a furious and funky call to arms and an important early touchstone for the emerging hip-hop subculture in America, both in its anti-establishment stance and its dizzying patchwork of cultural references. It creates a problem for this album, though, because what follows from "Lady Day & John Coltrane" to "The Prisoner" sounds nothing like it - so for logical, but entirely misguided reasons, Heron bridges between the single and the album proper with "Save the Children".

"Save The Children" is awful. It is sentimental, soppy, sub-"Heal The World" pap of the highest order. It's as if Heron thought "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" was too intelligent, too angry, too damn good, and went out of his way to make something dumb, limp-dicked, and crap to immediately make up for it. It has absolutely no business being on an album this good and this smart - it belongs on Michael Jackson's Invincible, or on a compilation of Estonia's best ever Eurovision Song Contest entires. Not here. Anywhere but here.

But then the album proper kicks in - and it's very, very good. The last 8 songs on here all fall in line with the soul of the very early '70s - think a Curtis that replaces an orchestra with a chamber band, or a What's Going On that replaces head-in-the-clouds wistfulness with earthy indignation, or a There's A Riot Goin' On without the drugs. It's smooth in its execution, but it's stern and solid in its message - "Home Is Where the Hatred Is", "Or Down You Fall", and "The Prisoner" being the finest examples of the latter. But there's also traces of hope - "Lady Day & John Coltrane" being a sensitive, deeply soulful song about the healing power of music.

Effectively, if you buy this album, you're getting a seriously solid soul record, with a single stuffed at the front that has a stunning A-side and an atrocious B-side. It's best to think of it in those terms, because if you take the last 8 tracks here as an album on their own, they stand up to anything Marvin or Sly put out during the same period, and I shouldn't need to tell you how impressive an endorsement that is.



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Kiran
Emeritus
November 13th 2009



5993 Comments


the revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner because the revolution will not be televised, brother

ohcleverhansyou
November 13th 2009



885 Comments


There are some songs so good it leaves me doubtful as to whether or not the artist can make another song so epic. "The
Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is one of those songs. As such I haven't heard anything else he's done. Maybe I will, but I'll
need more convincing than this review.

Tits McGee
November 14th 2009



1876 Comments


nice review. bit of a soul kick lately, huh?

Iai
Emeritus
November 14th 2009



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There are some songs so good it leaves me doubtful as to whether or not the artist can make another song so epic. "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" is one of those songs. As such I haven't heard anything else he's done. Maybe I will, but I'll need more convincing than this review.

You won't need any convincing at all - he HASN'T made anything else as good.

Iai
Emeritus
November 14th 2009



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review. bit of a soul kick lately, huh?

The genre's just disgracefully overlooked on here tbh. I actually wrote this review a little while ago for another site, I'm just starting to port over some stuff onto here.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2009



15697 Comments


revolution will not be televised is fantastic

Jom
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2009



2597 Comments


Gil Scott-Heron is no Scott Herren, I'm afraid :[

Meatplow
November 16th 2009



5524 Comments


Good review Nick. I'll check this one out.

El_Goodo
November 19th 2009



1008 Comments


Came in here cause I thought it was weird that another artist had a picture of Hendrix on their album cover...I now see it's not Hendrix at all. But I do love me some soul so I will prob check this out when I get home.

Meatplow
March 9th 2011



5524 Comments


yeah this was good

owenmc
March 16th 2011



11 Comments


lady day and john coltrane is such a good song!

darnielle
April 6th 2011



221 Comments


whole album is amazing, not just the intro

although that song is classiq

jefflebowski
February 16th 2012



6847 Comments


classic album

Valixous
August 22nd 2013



43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album, is just amazing. The music, the stories and oh my, the lyricism! Brilliant.

ButteryBiscuitBass
October 8th 2013



8735 Comments


THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED BROTHER

ethos
October 26th 2013



1597 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh mannnn

Digging: Exit Sense - Information Mystic



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