Eugene McDaniels – Outlaw (1970)
Released on Atlantic (SD 8259) 1970
1 Outlaw 5:00
2 Sagitarius Red 3:03
3 Welfare City 2:52
4 Silent Majority 4:10
5 Love Letter To America 3:57
6 Unspoken Dreams Of Light 6:40
7 Cherrystones 3:08
8 Reverend Lee 6:31
9 Black Boy 2:59
Bass – Ron Carter
Drums – Ray Lucas
Engineer – Bob Liftin , Dean Evenson
Guitar – Eric Weissberg , Hugh McCracken
Percussion – Buck Clarke
Piano – Mother Hen
Producer – Joel Dorn
Recorded at Regent Sound Studios, NYC
With special thanks to
“She’s a nigger in jeans, she’s an outlaw, she don’t wear a bra.”
With opening lines like these, you know you are in for a weird trip.
Eugene McDaniels may be famous (or infamous) for `Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse` but for my money (which isn’t much these days), THIS album has the songs! Also, while that album has the reputation for being the one that prompted Spiro Agnew to tap his phone, I have a strong feeling the spying started with “Outlaw”. I mean, they’re holding a rifle on the album cover, and “Love Song to America” declares him an enemy of the state (albeit unwilling).
Eugene McDaniels may be famous (or infamous) for `Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse` but for my money (which isn’t much these days), THIS album has the songs! One of the weirdest career trajectories in music, McDaniels had gone from an early 60s R&B hit maker, as Gene McDaniels, with songs like “100 lbs of Clay”, then seemingly taken a few years away from music, and reemerged with this militant, bizarre, and utterly seductive music. If I remember correctly he had begun working on this album while in the studio with Bobby Hutcherson recording the amazing album “Now!” Only one of the tunes on this album is really reminiscent of that masterpiece, “Unspoken Dreams of Light”, loaded with jazz intervals and trippy, convoluted lyrics about a coming bloody revolution sweeping the country. It’s a rock-funk-folk arrangement, I suppose, but the refrain sounds like it was left over from “Now.”
Every song on here is very literally great. McDaniels’ vocals are amazing, both emotionally stirring and also full of swagger and attitude. There is a twang to some of the tunes and especially Hugh McCracken’s and Eric Weissberg’s guitar licks that might invite comparisons to the Rolling Stones of this era. You can say that if you like, McDaniels probably would have not have objected to the comparison, but in a profound way these two albums of McDaniels are everything the Stones wanted to be in 1970. Black, for one thing, but incendiary, funky, roots-laden, gospel-tinged soul and rock music that truly must have made the so-called “Silent Majority” tremble in their straight-laced shoes with its scathing social criticisms, dark ironic humor, and sharply articulated anger. How is the listener supposed to react to the folk strumming of “Welfare City” whose chorus is, “la la la, la la la la la, la la, la la la la la, smoke a joint” ?? Well, just sing along I guess. By the end of the tune, with layered vocal harmonies, it sounds as catchy as “I’d Like To Give The World a Coke.”
“Silent Majority” is sadly as relevant today as it was in 1970. For those too young to know the history of that phrase, it was what the reactionary Nixon-era conservatives called themselves during the “cultural revolution” of leftist politics, free love, drugs, and rock and roll. McDaniels calls them out on their hypocrisy and also makes the astute observation that they weren’t really all that ‘silent.’ Unfortunately these same types of people are even more organized now, and still claim to speak for the “majority” of Americans, representing true patriotism, and calling anyone who disagrees with them a communist. These days, they call themselves The Tea Party.
McDaniels would never again make records like this one and “Headless Heroes”. It seems as if he has never said much publicly about them (silenced by the Kissinger-blessed majority??). It almost seems as if he is not aware, or simply uninterested, in the profound influence this music had on the relatively few people who have had the privilege of hearing it. These are underground classics loved by fans of rock, soul, and funk, have been name-checked by all kinds of hipsters. There was an article devoted to Daniels in the respectable magazine (I mean that sincerely) Wax Poetics, but I don’t remember what it said. Also can’t figure out what issue it was in but it seems to have been included in the second `anthology` in book form. Anyone who wants to scan it and post it here, be my guest. The guy is kind of a mystery to me in a lot of ways.
McDaniels was a good friend and colleague of Roberta Flack during this period, and wrote classic tunes in her repertoire like “Compared to What?” and “Reverend Lee” (his version of this latter tune is MUCH stranger, and longer), both of which became stables of Flack’s repertoire during the early 70s. McDaniels also penned one of her huge hits, “Feel Like Making Love”, which won him a Grammy. Again, ….what the fuck? How does one go from making THIS record, to winning a Grammy for a love song just a few years later??? He has also written material for Aretha Franklin.
Gene McDaniels is still around, he has a website, a Facebook account, and a You Tube channel. He has even released some music recently, about which I knew nothing until yesterday when researching for this upload.
This was one of my first vinyl rips, made on my Music Hall turntable, a Parasound preamp, and recorded using a Tascam digital recorder at 24/96 resolution. I think it sounds warm and musical, but someday I may rip it with my new setup, after I get the album out of storage from my bunker in the Kayman Islands. Apparently this was released on CD by Water Records but I never knew that until yesterday and have never come across it. I find their mastering to be cold and harsh on everything I have by them — although they usually release amazing, essential music – so I am quite happy with this for the moment.
I photographed the album with my Nikon D80 but.. I have no idea what I did with the files. So I have included some album cover scans I found on an interesting blog devoted to vinyl album art. ENJOY!!
Music Hall MMF.5 Turntable with Goldring 1012GX cartridge, Gyger II diamond stylus, and MK II XLR Ringmat –> Pro-ject Speedbox II -> Parasound Z Phono Preamp -> Marantz PMD 661 digital recorder at 24/96khz .Declicked on very light settings with Click Repair -> DC Offset and track splitting in Adobe Audition 2.0 Dithering to 16-bit in IzoTope RX Advanced using M-Bit algorithm. Converted to FLAC and mp3 with DbPoweramp. Tagged properly with Foobar 2000.
in 320 kbs em pee tré
in FLAC LAWLESS AUDIO 16-bit / 44.1khz
in FLAC LAWLESS AUDIO 24-bit / 96 khz ‘hi-rez’ format
special secret weather underground communist conspiracy pass-phrase in the comments section
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