Nothing New is an album made up of bare bone yet quite powerful versions of some of Gil Scott-Heron ’s most brilliant work recorded by the late poet musician during the 2008 I’m New Here sessions. It will be released only on 12″ vinyl, limited to 3,000 copies, and available exclusively on Record Store Day, 19th April 2014.
Says XL Recordings’ Richard Russell: 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.