This is one of my favorite records from Gil and Brian, absolutely. At one point I had this idea that I was going to share his entire classic discography from the 70s here, but then I ran out of steam and time. So I decided to jump ahead to this wonderful record. A long and wonderful review is deserved, but I am choosing to keep it brief this time. One memory I have of this record is turning my friend T on to it. Turning T on to music he doesn’t know is pretty difficult – the guy is ten years younger than I am and seems to have five times the musical knowledge, seems to have listened to everything under the sun, and has a pretty amazing collection. So I was rather proud to find a record he didn’t know. At first I just gave him one track, that I consider the centerpiece of the album, “We Almost Lost Detroit.” We were both living in Ann Arbor and T had grown up and spent most of his life in Michigan with family all over the Detroit area. I knew that the song was about stuff that actually went down in the 70s when a nuclear reactor has a partial melt-down and came very close to becoming a 3-Mile Island, and failed to be covered in the press in any significant way. Given the economic, social, and color profile of the city of Detroit, and the neighborhoods where the reactor is located, there is a lot of, um, food for thought here, to put it mildly… But leave it to T to learn what I didn’t know — that the song was titled after a book by the same name, by a John Fuller — which he of course tracked down and read. Guys like him restore my faith in humanity, I swear. Gil is famous for his songs offering pointed commentary on contemporary sociopolitical situations, but what makes this song slightly different than most of those (Johannesburg for example) is that it is not a fist-pumping rally-cry but a sad, mournful, soulful expression of a disaster narrowly averted and the forgotten people in already-devastated cities and ghettos whose lives would have been utterly ruined by it. It’s mellow groove belies the lyrical content, or at least acts as a sort of counterweight that creates tension. And then there is that famous keyboard line of Brian Jackson that has been sampled by a million people, coming at just the right place. Rather than my usual streaming audio sample I am including a link from U-tube, its a bit ‘lossy’ and crappy sounding but that should motivate you to get the real deal below.
1 Hello Sunday! Hello Road!
2 Song of the Wind
3 Racetrack in France
4 Vild (Deaf, Dumb and Blind)
5 Under the Hammer
6 We Almost Lost Detroit Jackson, Scott-Heron
7 Tuskeegee #626
8 Delta Man (Where I’m Comin’ From)
9 95 South (All of the Places We’ve Been)
Aside from this landmark song, the rest of the album is also fantastic, a really solid work that show Gil and Brian beginning a new phase of their prolific partnership.
Gil-Scott Heron & Brian Jackson – Bridges (1977) FLAC LOSSLESS
Brian Jackson and I have been writing music and performing together since 1969. From January of 1970 when we started traveling as the nucleus of a group call “Black & Blues” til now, mid ’77, responses from communities both far and near, have given us an opportunity to take our art to the streets and stages and share it with people we might otherwise never have encountered. Somehow, in even the most distant setting, the warmth and sincerity of the brothers and sisters we have come in contact with, has made us feel at home. Music has been our common denominator; our vehicle; the mutual vibration that gives us a focus, but the ideas and spirit behind the music has been the adhesive and inspiration for continued attempts to communicate.
There is a revolution going on in the world. We are very much a part of it and have a great deal to contribute to the force and direction of this revolution. There are many fronts within this struggle, many far flung outposts geographically isolated and distant from our mainstreams of communication. But everyone who struggles for a better life for oppressed people is an ally who could use any symbol of our concern and solidarity. There is a growing guerrilla movement in Southern Africa, a period of healing and rebuilding in Southeast Asia, a movement towards economic independence in the Caribbean and we are a part of it all. In our own lives the struggle to educate continues: to bring the need for positive change into focus; to bring about
a new understanding of the dynamics of change.
All things change. From the wheel to the automobile. From you, diapers, stuffed animals and bronzed baby shoes, to you in high school, in love, in debt. And the social dynamics and perimeters during your lifetime have exploded into a thousand fragments of liberation movements and human rights demands. It has been a revolution that ignited in the eyes of Asian peasant and African Bushmen and Afro-American Corner Kings who began to direct this inevitable change. It is a revolution in full stride that has changed, irrevocably, our understanding of ourselves in this society as it has demythologized so many of the impressions of black/white, wrong/right that imprisoned us all.
We still believe, as did El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) among others, that America has the potential to undergo a bloodless revolution, in that change may come without pitched battles in the street. But there has already been bloodshed and stains are fresh. It is winter and we are regaining our strength. The key to our progress lies within our ability to support alliances between ourselves and Third World people. The support begins here. In solidarity with chicanos, Puerto Riquenos, Oriental American and Native Americans we will continue to focus on the need for justice and opportunity. We have debts to pays. In the interest of comrades who have contributed their lives, as well as in our own interest.