Tag: Spoken Word

1957, Music

The Clown (1957) by Charles Mingus

This record is, for some, probably the most controversial of Mingus’ prime, for its infamous title track, a piece which contains spoken narration by Jean Shepherd. And it’s the one piece I’m not entirely sure what to do with so I’ll try to leave it for last.

1975, Music

The First Minute of a New Day (1975) by Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson and the Midnight Band

This is only my second experience of Scott-Heron, so I don’t know enough about the history, but it seems like this is (mostly) a somewhat radical departure from his earlier work. That’s in part because there is a large band here now, rather than just a trio (or nobody) backing Scott-Heron.

1974, Music

Caught Up (1974) by Millie Jackson

For the most part, R&B doesn’t do high concept. The only thing I can really think of from the ’70s which is an exception is Funkadelic (and Parliament, too, I guess), where there is a concept, only it’s extremely nutty and kind of impenetrable. (Well, I can think of other albums which are built around …

1964, Music

Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian (1964) by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash always had a little bit of a rebellious streak in him, one which conflicted with what was acceptable to many Americans at time. (Think of the famous middle finger or, a few years after this, recording albums at prisons.) One assumes that is one reason why he made this record, aside from a …

1974, Music

Winter in America (1974) by Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson

I knew one thing about Gil Scott-Heron, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” And I don’t know it well. So I came into this expecting a record of spoken word with few expectations about the music backing the poetry. All I basically knew is that this guy was regarded by some as the first MC.

1993, Music

Plantation Lullabies (1993) by Me’Shell NdegéOcello

It’s hard not be impressed by the ambition of this debut; NdegéOcello seems to want to do everything within the R&B spectrum and, at times, it feels like she might succeed. She’s like a female Terence Trend D’Arby with more of a jazz and hip hop influence and a better sense of rhythm but with …

1982, Music

Ice Cream for Crow (1982) by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

If you have come at the Captain through his earliest works, this record might feel like not much or a man settling into his mid life. It’s far less radical than his most radical work of the early ’70s, wherein he basically pioneered the intersection of blues and free jazz and other things.