Eugene Mc Daniels – 1971 – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse
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AllMusic Review by John Duffy
When Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse was first released in 1971, so the legend goes, Spiro Agnew himself called Atlantic Records to complain about the album’s incendiary lyrics. Promotional efforts dried up, and since then, the album has become one of the great rare gems of the funk era. With this first-ever CD release from Label M, it is available again in all its strange, eclectic glory. McDanielshad earned his living as a producer and songwriter for artists like Roberta Flack and Gladys Knight, and was in all honesty not much of a singer, but somehow his clumsy lyrics and dry delivery combined to carry his message across.
In an unthreatening manner that hardly warranted a call from the White House, McDaniels warns that man’s struggles against each other are pointless, as some dark sinister force controls us all (“Headless Heroes“), and that protest without action is futile (“no amount of dancing is going to make us free,” he sings in “Freedom Death Dance”). With a dry wit he recounts an episode of everyday racist brutality in “Supermarket Blues” and finds simple carnal pleasures in the acoustic folk-flavored “Susan Jane“. It all gets wrapped up in an appealing stew that draws from rock, funk, folk, soul, and even free jazz. Considering the number of times McDaniels’ sinewy beats and chunky guitar riffs have been sampled over the years, it’s about time a proper re-release allowed listeners to hear the whole picture.
A1 The Lord Is Back 3:18
A2 Jagger the Dagger 6:00
A3 Lovin’ Man 4:45
A4 Headless Heroes 3:30
A5 Susan Jane 2:08
B1 Freedom Death Dance 4:16
B2 Supermarket Blues 4:07
B3 The Parasite (For Buffy) 9:36
Review By Soulmakossa
Eugene McDaniels’ ‘Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse’ is a tragically forgotten funk masterpiece. It has the grooves, it has the beats, it has the attitude, and above all, it has the mindblowing poetic brilliance of the erstwhile Kansas City-born ‘traditional’ R&B artist.
1971 was the year of the Black Album: Marvin Gaye released the seminal ‘What’s Goin’ On‘, Sly Stone responded with ‘Riot‘, Curtis Mayfield blew minds with his ‘Live‘ gig and Funkadelic were raising eyebrows with ‘Maggot Brain‘.
Somewhere, McDaniels’ two cents have been lost in the shuffle. And it’s a pity, for it’s every bit the classic as the aforementioned LPs.
This is hardcore political funk at its best and fiercest. A red moon atmosphere is set with the apocalyptic “The Lord Is Back“, which is followed by the hypnotic, strangely unnerving “Jagger the Dagger“.
Up next is what might at first listen (and glance) sound like a ‘Hippie Anthem’ for the new decade. But “Loving Man” drips of sarcasm and genuine bewilderment.
The title track is probably the greatest slice of righteous indignation set to greasy jazz-funk beats ever cut… and also the tune that, according to legend, made Agnew call the Atlantic Record Company office…
“Susan Jane” is a lovely, acoustic zany pseudo-ballad that is plain weird… and all the better for it.
“Freedom Death Dance” is sheer brilliance, musically as well as lyrically… it’s the cover art set to music.
The everyday hassles of an ordinary black man are discussed in the tragi-comical “Supermarket Blues“, where our hero is assaulted by old ladies, police brutes and store managers for being a shade darker than blue. Getting beaten up for returning a can of peas sure enough makes ya wanna sing the blues.
This fire and brimstone sermon on vinyl ends with a fiery ‘j’accuse’
towards America’s colonial past – an ode to the Native American that ends with a primal scream so eerie it is scary.
You need this album.