Saturday, July 30, 2011

RIP Eugene McDaniels

Eugene McDaniels Discusses "Compared to What" [also gives thanks to the hiphoppers who sampled him]

DJ Cosmo Baker on McDaniels, from May 2010. Twenty minutes after Cosmo wrote this, he got contacted by McDaniel's publicist, to work together, which never eventuated, sadly.

"... My phenom of a brother had just brought home Eugene McDaniels freak-folk-funk power-piece “Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse” a tour-de-force concept album that was a complete departure from music that had been heard before or since. “The Left Rev Mc D” Eugene McDaniels, hailing from Kansas City, had already become an accomplished singer and songwriter by the mid 1960s, most notably with his song “100 Pounds Of Clay.” And he saw continued success later on in life having penned such hits like Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Making Love” – which is a song a lot of you younger folk might actually think is just a D’Angelo record but actually was a huge hit when it came out in 1975. It was a #1 hit actually, and was nominated for a Grammy for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

But something happened in the mid to late 60s. The Vietnam war was in full swing and people were mad disillusioned and just generally fed up with things. Out of this environment McDaniels wrote “Compared To What” which was the first song on Roberta Flack’s debut album. 

Later on that year Les McCann & Eddie Harris covered it for their “Swiss Movement” album, the recording of their performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The song was a runaway success, a simple protest song that took on a life of its own because it reflected the sentiments of the people and their frustrations with the direction our country was headed. And also because it was incredibly groovy. Check this video out, which after years of listening to this song, I never even knew it existed. Man is it COOKING…"

McDaniels' recorded a few solo albums for Atlantic in the early 1970s, including “Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse.” which hit a raw nerve with the White House...

"Approaching subjects like the co-opting of black culture by white artists (“Jagger The Dagger,”) the history of American colonialism (“The Parasite,”) and racial profiling and police brutality (“Supermarket Blues,”) Mc D opened up a new door for radical subject matter in pop music. This was a door that the powers that be didn’t want opened.

Atlantic was one of the biggest record companies in the world at that time. The story is that Spiro Agnew, Vice President under Dick Nixon, personally called Ahmet & Nesuhi Ertegun, founders of Atlantic and, for the sake of not “causing public unrest” demanded that support for the album be pulled. I don’t know what happened after that but promotions immediately dried up and the album sunk like a lead balloon."

ADDED Ann Ruckert confirms : "Gene McDaniels dies".


black sand said...

Theres a great version of Compared to What on the David Holmes album Bow Down to the Exit Sign with Carl Hancock Rux on vocals

Peter McLennan said...

cheers for the tip