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Album Review

With Spirits, Gil Scott-Heron made a triumphant return to the studio after a 12-year absence. Though the politically charged R&B singer's voice had deteriorated, much of his soulfulness comes through. His songwriting is consistently excellent, and songs ranging from "Message to the Messengers" (which advises young rap artists to use their power wisely) to "Work for Peace" leave no doubt that his sociopolitical observations are as sharp as ever. One of the most riveting cuts is "The Other Side," an extended remake of his early-'70s classic "Home Is Where the Hatred Is" (which describes a drug addict's struggle). The East Coaster had been battling addiction himself during his absence from recording, and this heartfelt song isn't for the squeamish. Scott-Heron had successfully dabbled in jazz over the years, and in fact, among the CD's many strong points are the lyrics he adds to John Coltrane's "Spirits." One cannot help but wish Scott-Heron still had a great voice to go with this material, but even so, Spirits is powerful listening.

Customer Reviews


It’s great to see this album available on iTunes. It’s not well-known but Spirits is a surprisingly strong set delivered at an improbable time. I think the material has held up just fine over the ensuing two decades. If you like Heron’s classics “Winter in America” and “Pieces of a Man”, you’ll find this much later record has a similar songwriting focus and much value in it.


though the brother is very deep, secrets is the only great album gill scott have ever made. but these songs - the other side - speak to your soul in away about the drugs and the crack era like no other piece of music. gill was the last person i thought would have got caught in the crack addiction. the brother should have the final say about drugs on oprah's final season.


A defining moment from the late career of a giant. He wasn’t resting on his laurels. He was still struggling, and realizing perhaps that the joke had been more on him than ever he might previous have guessed. There’s a sense of howling suffocation here in places. And yet, oddly, in just the most panic stricken place, a sudden peace.


Born: April 1, 1949 in Chicago, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most important progenitors of rap music, Gil Scott-Heron's aggressive, no-nonsense street poetry inspired a legion of intelligent rappers while his engaging songwriting skills placed him square in the R&B charts later in his career, backed by increasingly contemporary production courtesy of Malcolm Cecil and Nile Rodgers (of Chic). Born in Chicago but transplanted to Tennessee for his early years, Scott-Heron spent most of his high-school years in the Bronx, where he learned firsthand...
Full Bio