Gil Scott-Heron - keepin' it as real as a heart attack.
Gil Scott-Heron – keepin’ it as real as a heart attack.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Gil Scott-Heron Live in London – April 4, 1990 – BBC Radio 1

It’s almost a cliche, but you really had to be there when Gil Scott-Heron first came on to the scene with his milestone The Revolution Will Not Be Televised in 1970.

Before that, there really wasn’t anyone like Gil Scott-Heron – he had no predecessors. He was an original. Many people consider him the catalyst in the Rap Movement – the one that started it all.

What he was, was a breath of fresh air. A conveyor of rage with pure eloquence. A mash-up of styles; from Jazz to Afro-Beat to Soul. It was elements of everything jammed into an explosion of expression. And people stopped what they were doing and listened. That’s what Gil Scott-Heron was all about at the start.

The years mellowed the man, the demons came in and out of his life. But he was still an important and vital force. And even though the rage was calmed to a degree, the intensity and the commitment was untouched.

By 1990, when this concert was recorded during a European tour, Gil Scott-Heron had devoted much of his time and talent to the role of activist, supplying his voice and talents to Artists United Against Apartheid. All the while keeping the spirit fresh and the message clear.

Sadly, Gil Scott-Heron died in 2011. But he left behind a rich and influential legacy. One which will continue to be discovered and emulated for years to come.

And as a reminder, here is that concert, recorded on April 7, 1990 in London and broadcast on BBC Radio 1 as part of its In Concert series.

Crank it up and enjoy the reality.

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