Dick’s Picks: Superb slice of political soul/funk from Eugene McDaniels originally released in 1971
‘Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse’
Whoah…..’Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse’ what’s that all about? Released in 1971 this little known political soul/funk blaster has been a lost vinyl classic ever since, gaining new admirers through the years, not only through its familiarity via samples (hello Beastie Boys, Pete Rock, Tribe Called Quest et al) but also because McDaniels assembled a crack band of jazz players for the album, which include top underground jazz fusionists like Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous and US jazz drumming legend Alphonse Mouzon – a private press recorded by a bunch of average musicians this ain’t.
In 1971 McDaniels was an angry man, with good reason to be: set against a backdrop of the Vietnam War, the corrupt Nixon administration and a general feeling that “the idealism of the ‘60s was fading”, it’s perhaps no wonder that the lyrics to many of the songs are full of righteous indignation and religious imagery, “the lord is mad, his dispositions mean, he’s travelin’ the road of mass destruction’, some of the beats are no slouch either…
The album’s story now takes a weird twist, unbeknown to McDaniels he had been on a CIA ‘watch list’ due to the imagery and subject matter of his previous long player ‘Outlaw’ (also in stock click for full info), in the highly charged climate of the early ‘70s, armed politicised, beret-wearing revolutionaries (and two of them female – oh, the outrage!) was enough to raise the hackles of the US intelligence agencies. This resulted in the CIA bringing the ‘Headless Heroes’ LP to the attention of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon – unbelievably a reel-to-reel was brought into the Whitehouse, with a full transcript of the lyrics – the result? Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun was called, pressure applied and the album subsequently withdrawn. After this, a planned 7″ single ‘The Lord Is Back / Tell Me Mr President was shelved. There was another album released in 1975 (Natural Juices) but after that McDaniels recorded output has been sporadic to say the least – but for a time in the early ’70s his brand of angry agit-pop really did succeed in getting up the noses of the powers that be, something that many other avowed ‘political’ acts have never even come close to – Right On!
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