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

Bo Diddley – The Black Gladiator (1970) Japanese press

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It’s never too late to commemorate the passing of the great Bo Diddley earlier this year. And what better choice than this little-known piece of fuzzed-out gutter funk, “The Black Gladiator.” OK, now the first thing you’re thinking is, “What’s going on with this cover art?” Don’t ask me. Maybe Bo (and not Hendrix, or Miles Davis) was actually the subject of Betty Davis’ infamous tune, “He Was A Big Freak.” But we’re not interested in fogging the memory of the renowned Mr. Diddley here, no sir. Maybe he’s just a gladiator, in addition to being a gunslinger and other occupations, and I’m reading too much into that. I am notoriously guilty of over-interpretation. This record speaks for itself. Is this a desperate attempt for an artist fifteen years into his career to “keep up with the times,” to ‘update’ his sound? Maybe. Do I care? Not really. Recasting his thang in a new musical landscape of black pride and consciousness, of psychedelic funk, does not bother me one wit. And the music is unmistakably Bo Diddley. One thing about the early 1970s, for me the apex of quality of all recorded music in every imaginable genre around the world (I’m not kidding folks.. I will take this claim to my grave and wager money on it) is that keeping up with the times wasn’t such a bad thing. The sounds of the decade age well — if they didn’t, why are the beats, textures, and tones from the 70s continually recycled, resampled, and reinvented, every decade hence? @#$% the 80’s revival. I’m staying in 1975 with my Curtis Mayfield records and this copy of The Black Gladiator. From a Japanese limited edition pressing with LP-sleeve artwork dupes. Enjoy! (My apologies for the misogyny of “Shut Up, Woman.” I tried selling Mr. Diddley on a song titled “Bo Diddley is a Radical Feminist Deconstructionist” but he refused to record it.)

P.S. Some people really hate this record. They loath it alongside Muddy Water’s “Electric Mud,” which I also like. Different strokes.

Bo Diddley – The Black Gladiator (1970) Aqui!!

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An “obituary” of sorts that circulated on a email listserv I belong to, upon news of his passing.

“No, goddammit, no. That grouchy genius can’t be dead. He was a
fucking Gunslinger. He fought monsters. He was loose, he was a surfer, he was
a man, he was a lumberjack, he would not be accused, he was looking for a
woman, he could bounce, he could twist, he was cookie-headed, he was powered by
heart-o-matic love, he was bad, he did the crawdaddy, he let them
bring it to Jerome, he shot tombstone bullets, he wore a fucking cobra snake
around his neck, he had a rock and roll nurse who gave him pills, he stopped
mumbling and talked out loud, he was my dearest rock and roll darling.

He was a lot of things, goddammit, but he can’t be dead. There’s no
fucking “Bo Diddley’s Dead” in his catalog.”

Gil Scott-Heron – Free Will (1972)

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This is, plain and simple, essential listening.

Gil Scott-Heron – Free Will (1972) – aqui

Side one

All songs written by Brian Jackson and Gil Scott-Heron.

1. “Free Will” – 3:43
2. “The Middle of Your Day” – 4:32
3. “The Get out of the Ghetto Blues” – 5:12
4. “Speed Kills” – 3:18
5. “Did You Hear What They Said?” – 3:32

Side two

All songs written by Gil Scott-Heron.

1. “The King Alfred Plan” – 2:47
2. “No Knock” – 2:12
3. “Wiggy” – 1:37
4. “Ain’t No New Thing” – 4:36
5. “Billy Green Is Dead” – 1:30
6. “Sex Education: Ghetto Style” – :51
7. “…And Then He Wrote Meditations” – 3:16