Unfortunately, the great musician Eugene McDaniels passed on July 29th. What I found so disturbing was the lack of attention this received on the internet. I know he wasn’t a Amy Winehouse-died too young-kind of tragedy, but he had so much influence, it seems strange so many obits were so short and superficial. Most of the things I read online focused on his early hits like “One hundred pounds of Clay” “Feel Like Making Love” and “Compared to What”. These are classic songs and deserve their place in the canon. I was just surprised that more attention wasn’t paid to his later 70’s work, especially Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse. This album is one of my favorites. I place it in such exalted company as The Clash’s London Calling or PE’s Fear of a Black Planet. If these comparisons seem eclectic and random, it’s because HHOTA is a strange and rather random work. It has all kind of influences at work in it. A song like “Susan Jane” has a definite folk feel while “Parasite” moves from a smooth jazz-funk into a crescendo of huge rock energy. While there are tons of different sounds on this record McDaniels and his crew keep the whole thing coherent and centered. In the middle of all this is McDaniels amazing political lyrics and plain, deep, soulful singing style. His vocal style is so straightforward, but filled with so much power. His voice is one of intelligence and passion of someone who is both angry and desperate. It’s hard to listen to this album and not feel connected to McDaniels not just as an artist, but also as a person.
This album is important to Lesley and I because it was some of the first music we ever bonded over. I put the CD in her car one night (when we were still just friends) and she absolutely loved it. She even sought it out at a record store in St. Augustine when she went back after Christmas. I try not to be the guy who pushes his musical tastes on others(even though that is totally my nature), but this time I glad I did. I knew right then that this was my kind of chick.