“It was a black man in open, conscious resistance of the power that was trying to keep him enslaved—that was me…At last I had a chance to say what I believed in my deepest heart about politics, slavery, and about the genocide of Indians.”—Eugene McDaniels aka the left rev mc d. talking about his album, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse, Pitch Magazine 2002.
The Nixon administration tanked the album, Questlove called him a genius, Prince put his music on his Paisley Park party playlist, Aloe Blacc compared him to Gil-Scott Heron and Marvin Gaye, but, as he said, “the lyrics are 10 times more potent”, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, Gravediggaz, Busta Rhymes and De La Soul, among others, sampled tracks from this album, yet most people have never heard of this psychedelic soul jazz underground cult classic or of Eugene McDaniels himself.
Now, 50 years after its release, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse makes a timely and triumphant return in a special anniversary edition curated by Eugene’s widow, Karen McDaniels. Inside the newly-created gatefold jacket are artwork from Eugene’s private collection and unseen writings, while a 4-page insert features handwritten lyrics, the original lyric sheet, quotes from such admirers as Vernon Reid, Adrian Younge, Chicano Batman, and Alphonse Mouzon (who played on the record along with his Weather Report band-mate Miroslav Vitous), the original lyric sheet, and new liner notes by Mark Anthony Neal, Professor of African and African American Studies, Duke University, Author, and host of Left of Blackpodcast. Neal’s essay gets to the heart of Headless Heroes: “Years after its release, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse remains one of the most blatantly political musical tomes ever released commercially by a major label. The album contained critiques of blue-eyed soul (“Jagger the Dagger”), examined the phenomenon of “shopping while black” (“Supermarket Blues”)—years before “racial profiling” entered into the national lexicon—and the futility of race hatred (“Headless Heroes”). “The Parasite” was McDaniels’ most stinging critique though, as he gets at the root of American Imperialism and its relationship to the genocide of America’s native populations.”
This Hellfire Red vinyl is exclusive to Colemine/Plaid Room Records and limited to 300 copies. You can also find Real Gone Music’s deluxe, 50th anniversary release of Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse is limited to 1750 copies pressed in purple vinyl, and cut from the original LP master. It’s an album whose relevance—and prescience—reverberate ever more loudly. To quote the title track: “Better get it together, Better get it together, And see what’s happening, To you and you and you”