Great Scott (Heron)

Gil Scott-Heron is one name you probably didn’t expect to see on this blog but seeing as he passed away on Friday it was inevitable I’d find a way to shoehorn him into the Bologna universe.

It takes little more than a cursory glance at Gil’s catalogue to find a track worthy of inclusion, as hidden amongst his recognised brand of agit soul and proto rap lies the reflexive reggae of “Ready Or Not”, a reggae song about a reggae song.

If Skank Blog is essentially about quasi-reggae then Ready Or Not fits the bill to a t. The classic one drop rhythm written by ska veteran Larry McDonald is rendered crisp and metallic at the hands of Tonto’s Expanding Head band main man Malcolm Cecil (a sound akin to Adrian Sherwood’s sonic structures), and bassist Robert Gordon laces the track with the kind of elastic pops and slaps often frowned upon in reggae circles.

Gordon himself, though a mainstay with Gil, boasts album credits with Johnny Thunders and former Flying Lizard Patti Palladin, proving there’s more to Gil Scott-Heron’s punk patronage than meets the eye. Let’s face it though, none of this really matters, the important thing is the reggae-not-reggae of Ready Or Not (and “No Exit”, also from Gil’s Moving Target LP) is a bloody good listen…

I also wanted to share this clip from Robert Mugge’s Gil Scott Heron documentary Black Wax, despite it not being remotely reggae related, it’s simply an amazing song and a great moment from a flourishing but troubled career, rest in peace Gil…

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