Gil Scott-Heron's 1971 album Pieces of a Man set a standard for vocal artistry and political awareness that few musicians will ever match. His unique proto-rap vocal style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists, and nowhere is his style more powerful than on the classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Even though the media – the very entity attacked in this song – has used, reused, and recontextualized the song and its title so many times, the message is so strong that it has become almost impossible to co-opt. Musically, the track created a formula that modern hip-hop would follow for years to come: bare-bones arrangements featuring pounding basslines and stripped-down drumbeats. Although the song features plenty of outdated references to everything from Spiro Agnew and Jim Webb to The Beverly Hillbillies, the force of Scott-Heron's well-directed anger makes the song timeless. More than just a spoken word poet, Scott-Heron was also a uniquely gifted vocalist. On tracks like the reflective "I Think I'll Call It Morning" and the title track, Scott-Heron's voice is complemented perfectly by the soulful keyboards of Brian Jackson.
For curiosity seekers interested in a sampling of the Cult's recording career with CBS, this new "Best Of" is serviceable, but not as thorough as the 2-disc "Workshop of the Telescopes" put out a few years back. The songs on this new disc were compiled based on fan votes for the Oyster Boys' best material, so some of the inclusions are questionable (for example, why "Marshall Plan" but not "Monsters"? or "Goin Through the Motions" but not "Golden Age of Leather"?), but overall the track listing does an admirable job of offering the listener a window on the world of one of the most bizarre, talented, and underrated American rock bands ever.