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Wednesday, October 26, 2005
  you ain't even white, god-daaaamn



Eugene McDaniels: "Headless Heroes"

Eugene McDaniels: "Supermarket Blues"

Four or five years ago I read about Eugene McDaniels' Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse in an issue of Mojo. In typical fashion, the writer went on about how this politically radical album was a crystalline distallation of the yawning chaos and anger of the racially-segregated American ghetto, or some such nonsense like that. Though overblown and pretentious, the paragraph or three piqued my interest, and so I set out on a half-hearted search for this long out-of-print record. It was a futile quest, until I got a high-speed internet thingamajig just a few weeks ago. Now I've acquired the record (through entirely legal means, of course), and the long-forgotten words of a Mojo hack have finally given way to genuine auditory experience.

Geez, is this record sort of a let-down, or what? I dig it, to a degree, but if you ignore the words, this is one of the whitest sounding funk/soul albums ever. Check the words, and you'll see Eugene's verifiably pissed, but instead of putting any of that anger into his voice, he sings it like Rev. Gregory from Amen. I didn't expect to hear Clifton Davis singing about the exploitation of both the brown and red man, or the racial and class prejudice that's an inherent and necessary part of war-mongering. I could see him singing about God, or cartoon mice, or that irascible Rolly, but not something called "Freedom Death Dance". The music's similarly a lot more subdued than I figured, and the lyrics, while certainly well-meaning, are frequently embarrassing. "The Parasite", in its blatant condescension toward the "simple-minded" Indians, should offend and/or amuse just about anybody who pays attention to lyrics. And "Susan Jane" is some awful hippie precursor to Train's miserable "Meet Virginia".

And yet, well, as I said, I still dig it. It makes a mockery of my expectations, but it's still oddly powerful, if not as viscerally as the pompous Mojo twit led me to believe. The lyrics are splenetic as fuck, even if Eugene's voice doesn't reflect it. The conspiratorial title track, in which, regardless of political belief or skincolor, the mass of humanity is merely "cannon fodder" for the rich and connected who actually run the world, could not only be relevant today, but also remains a pretty damn good song. It could be a theme for however many anti-war or anti-government groups these days. Listening to songs like "Headless Heroes", "Jagger the Dagger", and the gently rolling music to "The Parasite", I can sort of see what that British guy was trying to say. Sometimes, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse actually is really good. And then, sometimes, like on "Supermarket Blues", it's just fuckin' ridiculous.
 
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