The Last Poets: When the Revolution Comes (1970)

 |   |  1 min read

The Last Poets: When the Revolution Comes (1970)

In the wake of the killing of Martin Luther King and the rise of Black Power politics, the ghettos were in flames. It was inevitable that music -- and in this case street poetry coupled with Afro-roots music -- should reflect, and even drive, the times.

The Last Poets were mad as hell and not going to take it: and they were mad as hell about complacent blacks as much as the oppressive white system. This album, on Alan Douglas' interesting label, contains the pieces Niggers Are Sacred of Revolution and Wake Up Niggers.

Those titles (and there are others similar) send a chill today because this word was the great unspoken -- but here they reclaimed it from its racist slur (just as gays later reclaimed that word) and turned it into a weapon, against those blacks who would be Uncle Toms or just cower beneath the bed when the revolution came.

And revolution was undeniably in the air: this was the time of the Weathermen and Black Panthers, of guns and pamplets, the resistence against the war in Vietnam, and a call to arms. Black jazz even more than white rock, was in tune with the tenor of the times too.

Few captured the zeitgeist like the Last Poets who coupled the rhetoric of the times with Afro-percussion.

With When the Revolution Comes, the Last Poets put a burning stake in the ground, they laid down a challenge. There is some minor controversy over whether Gil Scott Heron's better known The Revolution Will Not Be Televised of the same time drew from it -- but that hardly matters.

The theme of these poetry pieces (which were proto-rap in many ways) was the same -- partytime bullshit was over, the revolution was coming and you'd better be ready brothers and sisters.

For more on-offs or songs with an interesting back-story see From the Vaults.

For more on the turbulent times, check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

No Way Sis: I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (1996)

No Way Sis: I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (1996)

For the Oasis tribute band No Way Sis their work was done for them: Oasis were notorious for borrowing/plagiarising/thieving melodies which songwriter Noel Gallagher cheeerfully admitted -- and... > Read more

NRA: Bruce McLaren (1991)

NRA: Bruce McLaren (1991)

The ferocious NRA (Not Really Anything) were one of those Flying Nun bands of the late Eighties/early Nineties that you either got, or steered well clear of. Live, they were not for the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WYNTON MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (2000): Once more, back to the future

WYNTON MARSALIS INTERVIEWED (2000): Once more, back to the future

To refer to Wynton Marsalis as a jazz musician is to unintentionally diminish him. Certainly he plays jazz trumpet, has released a couple of dozen albums in the idiom, was the catalyst for and... > Read more

GREETINGS FROM ROUTE 66, edited by MICHAEL DREGNI

GREETINGS FROM ROUTE 66, edited by MICHAEL DREGNI

When, in 1946, Bobby Troup wrote what became his classic song Route 66, he could hardly have anticipated how popular it would become. After all, he'd really only written a few words and the hook... > Read more