Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse (1971) VBR

No time for a personalized review today but this one has been in the cue for a while and its about time I shared it. Heavenly and heavily minor-key dissonant cluster chord funk soul-jazz with bitingly droll lyrics, how can you go wrong? this It’s a lot of fun, you shouldn’t miss this! I would upload my vinyl copy of the follow up, ‘Outlaw’ but I have no time for a vinyl rip for the next… few years or so. Anyone who wants to contribute it, leave a message.

Song sample — SUPERMARKET BLUES
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EUGENE MCDANIELS
Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse
Released 1971 on Atlantic Records


(Wikipedia entry!)

Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse is an album of American soul music by artist Eugene McDaniels.

As with McDaniel’s previous album, this is not a typical Soul album, which can even be seen by the cover image (a picture of McDaniels screaming between two warring samurai).

This album dabbles in form between soul, Funk, jazz and even folk. In addition, it has been a collector’s item among rap music and rare groove enthusiasts since the early 90s when several of the songs were sampled by many hip hop producers including Pete Rock and Q-Tip.

Track listing

1. “The Lord is Back” – 3:19
2. “Jagger the Dagger” – 6:02
3. “Lovin’ Man” – 4:47
4. “Headless Heroes” – 3:32
5. “Susan Jane” – 2:10
6. “Freedom Death Dance” – 4:16
7. “Supermarket Blues” – 4:08
8. “The Parasite (For Buffy)” – 9:36

Personnel

* Harry Whitaker – piano
* Gary King – electric bass
* Miroslav vitous – acoustic bass
* Alphonse Mouzon – drums
* Richie Resnikoff – guitar
* Carla Cargill – female vocals

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. McDaniels had 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.

Isaac Hayes – The Isaac Hayes Movement (1970) VBR

Get “Hot Buttered Soul” first (below), then check this out.

A lot of folks are going to remember Isaac Hayes for the themes song and soundtrack album to blaxploitation flick “Shaft.” A whole other generation will remember him more as the adorable Chef from South Park. He deserves to be remembered for both of those accomplishments, but he was also a lot more to a lot of people. His music has pulled me through some tough times, the warmth of his deep-hued voice made my winter easier to bare this year, and his raps on love and loss are unequaled, striking true chords whether they bring a smile to your lips or make you shake your head and shout an ‘Amen!’ And his music meant enough to black America in the early seventies that he was made the headliner of the 1972 Wattstax festival. The documentary film of the same name, released in 1973, was such a powerful celebration of black identity that it even became central to the nascent soul music scene, the Black Rio movement, and the Movimento Negro in Brazil during the 70s, with the film being screened at parties in the favelas and audience members chanting along phonetically with some of its notable scenes. The significance of this cross-pollination was not limited to the appropriations of American soul, funk, and jazz music by artists like Jorge Ben, Tim Maia, Cassiano, or Banda Black Rio. It was also eminently political — In a country where the “racial democracy” of mestiçagem or race-mixing had been celebrated for decades as ‘evidence’ that race prejudice did not exist, the sounds and images of black people in North America celebrating difference and claiming a space of dignity for Afrocentric cultural roots struck like a clarion call. Whether or not those mobilizations around racial identity were ‘successful’ is not the point here. The point is that the ways that the united states deals with (or fails to deal with) the politics of race has consequences outside its borders. I regularly meet people in Brazil who know more about contemporary American politics than I do, and the knowledge of and interest in Barack Obama there has certainly been no exception. Isaac Hayes was not just a soul singer who belonged in the ranks of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, or Stevie Wonder — he was also an icon of blackness, a “Black Moses.” Isaac Hayes is remembered in Brazil today among music fans of my own generation (too young to be there for Wattstax’s initial breakthrough) as a towering figure alongside those peers, just as he towered over his fellow musicians on the stage.

Isaac, I already miss you. To honor your memory, I’d like to share this wonderful music you left us and maybe turn a few others on.

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Isaac Hayes
The Isaac Hayes Movements
Released 1970

Enterprise Records/Stax Records
Original Catalogue #: ENS-1010

Track List:
1. I Stand Accused (11:37)
(Butler-Butler) Warner-Tamerlane Publ. Corp.-BMI

2. One Big Unhappy Family (5:49)
(Chalmers-Rhodes) Times Square Music Publ. Co./Rhomers Music Inc.-BMI

3. I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself (7:00)
(Bacharach-David) U.S. Songs, Inc./Blue Seas music Inc./Jac Music Co., Inc./Anne-Rachel Music Corp.-ASCAP

4. Something (11:52)
(George Harrison) Harrisongs Ltd.-BMI

Liner Notes:
Producer: Isaac Hayes
Arrangers: Isaac Hayes, Dale Warren
Voice Arrangements: Pat Lewis
Engineers: Ron Capone, Henry Bush, Ed Wolfrum
Remix Engineer: Ron Capone
Photography: Joel Brodsky
Art Direction: The Graffiteria/David Krieger
Art Supervision: Herb Kole

Mastering by Joe Tarantino (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA)

Following the simmering grooves of “Hot Buttered Soul,” this record is more of a laid-back affair. The long spoken intro to Chicago soul genius Jerry Butler’s “I Stand Accused” brings that song into a whole new plane. Another Burt Bacharach tune opens up the second side of the LP with “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.” A few minutes into George Harrison’s “Something,” you might find yourself thinking what I did and often still do when hearing it, “I’m not….quite…sure if this is working or not..”, as the chord changes punctuated by an orchestra give way to a screechy violin solo played (I’m guessing) through an amplifier. It definitely ranks as one of the more ‘out there’ of Beatles covers in existence, and by the time it reaches past the ten-minute mark, I don’t really *care* if it’s “working” or not, I’m just enjoying being along for the ride. It takes brass balls to cover a song by the Fab Four this way (or, should I say “chocolate salty balls”?). The song gets an A for effort even if it leaves you scratching your head.

Isaac Hayes RIP !! Hot Buttered Soul (1969) VBR

Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. (August 20, 1942 – August 10, 2008)

Rest in peace, brother Isaac….

There will be more Isaac to come. This is my favorite record of his. I have an MFSL version hanging around somewhere too that I may share as well, but this original pressing will do fine.

I’m too devastated to say anything else right now. His music meant a lot to me, to a whole lot of people. He will be dearly missed.

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Isaac Hayes
Hot Buttered Soul

Enterprise Records/Stax Records

Original Release Date: 1969
Original Catalogue #: ENS-1001

Track List:
1. Walk On By (12:00)
(Bacharach-David) Blue Seas Music/Jac Music-ASCAP

2. Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic (9:36)
(Isbell-Hayes) Irving Music-BMI

3. One Woman (5:08)
(Chalmers-Rhodes) Times Square/Rhomers Music-BMI

4. By the Time I Get to Phoenix (18:40)
(Jim Webb) The EMP Co.-BMI

Liner Notes:
Rhythm section on all the above tunes features The Bar-Kays

Producers: Al Bell, Marvell Thomas, Allen Jones (Under supervision by Al Bell)
Engineers: Terry Manning, Ed Wolfrum
Re-Mix Engineer: Russ Terrana, Jr. (Tera-Shirma Sound Studio, Detroit, MI)
Art Direction: Honeya Thompson
Cover Design: Christopher Whorf
Photography: Bob Smith

Special thanks to Terry Manning (Ardent Recording Studio, Memphis TN);
Special thanks to Ed Wolfrum (United Sound Studio, Detroit, MI)

Mastering by Joe Tarantino (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA)

Isaac Haye’s work has been sampled countless times in hip-hop and rap music. For a long (but probably not complete) list, click here.

NEW — HOT BUTTERED SOUL, FLAC FILESET 1
HOT BUTTERED SOUL, FLAC FILESET 2

John Fahey – The Voice of the Turtle (1968) VBR

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JOHN FAHEY
Voice of the Turtle

Released 1968,Takoma Records
Issued on CD 1996

1. Bottleneck Blues 3:03
2. Bill Cheatum 1:52
3. Lewisdale Blues 2:13
4. Bean Vine Blues 2:42
5. Bean Vine Blues 2:48
6. A Raga Called Pat 9:03
7. A Raga Called Pat 4:25
8. Train 1:44
9. Je Ne Me Suis Revellais Matin Pas En May 2:19
10. The Story Of Dorothy Gooch 5:24
11. Nine-Pound Hammer 1:57
12. Lonesome Valley 1:42

Review by Richie Ubermench

Like some of John Fahey’s other projects in the ’60s, this was actually recorded and assembled over a few years, and primarily composed of duets with various other artists (including overdubs with his own pseudonym, “Blind Joe Death”). One of his more obscure early efforts, Voice of the Turtle is both able and wildly eclectic, going from scratchy emulations of early blues 78s and country fiddle tunes to haunting guitar-flute combinations and eerie ragas. “A Raga Called Pat, Part III” and “Part IV” is a particularly ambitious piece, its disquieting swooping slide and brief bits of electronic white noise reverb veering into experimental psychedelia. Most of this is pretty traditional and acoustic in tone, however, though it has the undercurrent of dark, uneasy tension that gives much of Fahey’s ’60s material its intriguing combination of meditation and restlessness.

Someone wrote on some website you might know:

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
–, December 14, 2003
By Benjamin S. Sandstrom (Minnetonka, MN United States)
I don’t know the complete story behind this record in reference to it being a hoax or a put-on or who played what. What I do know is that it’s my favorite John Fahey record, and if that makes me less enlightened than the average Fahey fan, I can live with that.

I don’t think it’s important that this record spends less time spotlighting Fahey’s guitar virtuosity than is normally the case. This is a record that’s about a certain ambience created by collage, and the fact that Fahey uses unknown accompanists and found sounds makes it no less authentic or personal than his other guitar-only recordings that the Byronic Fahey enthusiasts long for. What’s essentially important about the record is that Fahey was responsible for it, assembled it, and that it was born out of his head, if not always his hand. That’s why it’s valid.

As much of a purist as Fahey could be – perhaps wishing that he were around 40 years earlier to learn first-hand from his influences – he wasn’t an irrational purist. By that I mean he wasn’t afraid to like or use technology. He didn’t use technology as paint, so to speak, but rather as his brush, and ‘Voice of the Turtle’ was his most complete technological statement. It was extremely rare that Fahey used an electronic sound in his music, yet the way he assembled certain songs – and the the entire ‘Voice of the Turtle’ album – was influenced by modern technology in the form of found sounds and the occasional electronic drone or squak. The third and fourth ‘A Raga Called Pat’s on ‘Voice of the Turtle’, as well as the first two on ‘Days Have Gone By’ are not adventurous because they abandon his roots, they’re adventurous because they express his roots and vision differently. Instead of simulating an environment, an era, or a mood on guitar, Fahey gives them to you – straight-up – and then does his musical thing, whether it be guitar or something else, on top of it, making those pieces into virtual field recordings, and what’s more ‘Fahey’ than a field recording? That’s right – nothing. His roots and vision did not change on those pieces.

By saying that ‘Voice of the Turtle’ was Fahey’s most complete technological statement, I don’t imply that he necessarily used more technology than on any other record. It has to do with the coherence of the technology and how it brings the record together rather than isolating certain songs as in the case of ‘Days Have Gone By’ and ‘Requia’. The way the ‘A Raga Called Pat’s, ‘The Story of Dorothy Gooch, Part 1’ and the drone that opens and closes the record work against the more traditional material is purposeful, not merely experimental. The above songs give the more upbeat traditional pieces an interesting subtext of menace that suggests that even in good times, trouble is never far. They also re-inforce the doom-laden crossroads mythology that Fahey liked to play with in some of his delta blues pieces.

I can understand how ‘Voice of the Turtle’ can be lost on some who appreciate Fahey’s technique first and foremost, but what I can’t understand is why Fahey’s technique is first and foremost. He was one of the greatest artists of his time, avoiding retro by taking the time to understand history and then coming back again into the present to show us what he found and how it’s really the same.

John Fahey – Days Have Gone By (1967) VBR

Sometimes, when I wake up on a summer morning, I listen to John Fahey.

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JOHN FAHEY
Days Have Gone By, Volume 6

(1967; Reissued 2006 Takoma UK)

1. Revolt of the Dyke Brigade
2. Impressions of Susan
3. Joe Kirby Blues
4. Night Train of Valhalla
5. Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California
6. Raga Called Pat, Pt. 1
7. Raga Called Pat, Pt. 2
8. My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs
9. My Grandfather’s Clock
10. Days Have Gone By
11. We Should Be Building

Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Sam Graham once referred to Fahey as the “curmudgeon of the acoustic guitar,” while producer Samuel Charters noted that Fahey “was the only artist I ever worked with whose sales went down after he made public appearances.” This tumultuous spirit, in turn, made tumultuous music on albums like Days Have Gone By, filled with odd harmonics, discord, and rare beauty. The esoteric titles like “Night Train of Valhalla” stand beside more abrasive ones like “The Revolt of the Dyke Brigade.” Fahey’s guitar work on the latter song, however, does little to evoke the title. Instead, it reminds one of what might happen if a guitar player from the Far East, familiar with open tunings, interpreted Blind Blake. “Impressions of Susan” combines the same odd tunings with nice, and at times joyful, fingerpicking. Dissonance, though, remains the primary mood that Fahey’s guitar resonates. “The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California” begins with a lovely cascade of notes, only to fall into odd harmonics that create a pensive foreboding. To call attention to the disharmony and discord, though, is not a criticism. Days Have Gone By, like all of Fahey’s early- and mid-’60s work, expands American blues traditions by enriching the palette of the guitar with Eastern tunings. He may create a challenging work like “A Raga Called Pat–Part Two” that is difficult to interpret, but its opulence is undeniable. Fahey has often been grouped with new age music but this — especially with his early work — is somewhat of a misnomer. New age strives to build harmony; Fahey revels in conflict. Days Have Gone By is another rewarding reissue of the master’s classic ’60s work and will be eagerly greeted by guitar aficionados.