Friday, March 18th, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx – I’ll Take Care of U

And you should probably be thankful none of the cast of Cougar Town has a single out…


Jonathan Bogart: Remember Play? Me too.

Anthony Easton: Like those Nina Simone remix albums that Verve put out a few months ago, not sure why the best way of emphasizing a voice like this is by cutting it apart and adding sonic noise in the midst of it. More Scott-Heron and less Jamie xx and it might have been something interesting.

Kat Stevens: I’m not a massive fan of Gil’s street growling but here it’s nicely tempered by Jamie’s echo-heavy guitar floating up from the sewers. I’m not so sure about the rest of the lazy sludge that comes up with it, though.

Martin Skidmore: Gil is very croaky these days, which for me suits miserable bluesy lyrics better than romantic ones, and this mix doesn’t seem terribly coherent, sort of Mediterranean summery at times, too far forwards at others, kind of rambling overall.

Josh Langhoff: Brook Benton’s pickup song is ideal for smarmy old codgers. Van Morrison’s version ends with Van moaning, “I’m drifting I’m drifting, like a ship out on the sea”. You can practically see him nodding off over his pint, so don’t believe for a second he’ll actually take care of you. And now Gil seems to keep forgetting the words. After he proclaims “You know what I wanna do”, we get 15 seconds of BEAT BEAT BEAT BEAT while he fixes us with a meaningful stare, swishes his teeth around, and tries to remember what exactly it is he wants to do. Then he turns cranky and starts arguing with himself. At least he had the forethought to hire a hot young producer, who swoops in to finish Verse 2 on the guitar. It’s good to have a wingman.

Alfred Soto: The song is a trifle, but the doomy piano and strings buttress a vocal that’s ravaged enough to serve as the theme song for a David Simon HBO series.

Mark Sinker: Nearly 20 years now since (apropos nothing in particular) Tony H and I ran a big piece on Gil in The Wire — a record-by-record review of his seemingly stalled career, with a big fuckoff showoff glossary of all the names he dropped in his political raps, already half-forgotten even then, because I read a ton about Nixon back in the day and knew who many of them were, and imagined readers probably (pre-google!) didn’t. His voice is two decades rougher and vastly less limber and accurate — there’s a poignancy actually just in his claim that he’ll be the carer here, because you have to wonder if it isn’t a lot of times the other way around now — and there’s a heartbreaking leap between the cool control of this young person’s music, its watchfulness, its tact, and the grunting, knotted fragments he delivers when he can. As you get older, you more and more know the world as a place without people that were once in it, people you knew well, but also people you only knew at a great distance, as names, as fond notions; I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a record that gets the second half of this across so piercingly.

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