Gil Scott-Heron's Posthumous 'Nothing New' LP Set To Drop For Record Store Day
Gil Scott-Heron‘s posthumous Nothing New LP is slated to be released for Record Store Day via XL Recordings on April 19th, featuring reworks and re-recorded versions of his most celebrated classics. The 14-track project, largely a byproduct of the recording sessions for Gil Scott-Heron’s 2010 I’m New Here LP, is the first posthumous release since his death in May 2011. XL chief Richard Russell explains the genesis of the Nothing New LP and his hopes for the project in an open letter:
“Nothing New” is recordings Gil and I made in New York of songs he chose from his catalogue, just voice and piano, pure Gil. I realised that each song he had chosen was from a different album of his. He had carefully curated the selection, so the album serves as an excellent introduction to his previous output.
In our early letters, Gil had picked up on my use of the word “spartan” to describe how our record could be. The Oxford dictionary defines “spartan” as showing “indifference to comfort or luxury”. Very Gil. “Nothing New” is truly spartan in that it is utterly sparse and devoid of anything that is not completely necessary. All it contains is Gil’s singing and piano playing.
You also hear excerpts of our conversations between takes; these give a sense of Gil’s profound and profane nature. I believe Gil would approve of calling an album of him covering his own material “Nothing New”; the wordplay is inspired by him. Gil once expressed that he felt our album “could do with a few more yuks” – so now you can check out some of Gil’s asides, and particularly the final interlude “On Bobby Blue Bland” for a glimpse of the man’s playful sense of humour.
Once I’d compiled and edited these songs, I made three acetates, and we screenprinted artwork at XL. I gave one of these three special copies to Gil’s son Rumal Rackley, sent another to Gil’s friend and keyboard player Kim Jordan in Washington DC, and the third went to Ms Mimi, who kept Gil’s house in order. This could have been the end of the process, but Rumal felt we should share this work with people – so here it is.
The project is lead by a stripped down, piano and vocal driven rework of Gil Scott-Heron’s “Alien” (Hold On To Your Dreams) – a track that plays with a dog-eared vintage and the unmistakable cool of Scott-Heron’s distinctively melodic lyrical approach. While Gil Scott-Heron’s last album carried a bittersweet edge that played more like a dirge at times, Nothing New is a triumphant collection of tracks sporting an abundance of warmth, hope and light that are set to compel new listeners and longtime fans with little more than a solid measure of beauty and simplicity. Check the track below to listen to the rework of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson‘s “Alien” (Hold On To Your Dreams). Read Russell’s full letter via gilscottheron.net. Look out for the Nothing New LP on April 19th.