My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Winter in America is the third collaboration between vocalist Scott-Heron and musician Jackson. It was recorded in the Fall of 1973 and released in May of 1974. The album was not well distributed upon its release and was largely unavailable until it was reissued on CD in 1998.
What I think: To put it directly, vocals are great music is seriously lacking. Scott-Heron has a great Soul/Spoken word style that is really powerful and I really enjoy listening to his voice on almost all of the tracks. Throughout, his voice is on a full spectrum of sing to being spoken word and it works really well. His lyrics deal with social ills of the Black community in the 1970’s. When they were, as Scott-Heron describes, in the midst of Winter and looking for signs of Spring. My complaint comes with the backing music of Brian Jackson and the saturation of electric piano. It is everywhere on the album and it just seems really amateurish and cheesy. It may be that time hasn’t been kind to the instrumentation and what was once fresh is now stale and flat, but it does not to any favors for Scott-Heron’s vocals.
Despite the lacking music, I would still recommend listening to the whole album and especially the tracks “Rivers of My Fathers”, “A Very Precious Time”, “The Bottle” and “H2ogate Blues”.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? It seems like a culturally important album and one that would help inspire the coming of hip-hop. Let’s keep it.
Rating (Out of 5): 3.5
Winter in America Amazon Review (Out of 5): 4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (256/328)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 78%