Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gene McDaniels and a last word on Amy

Gene McDaniels, a man with one of the classiest and smoothest soul voices of the sixties and seventies and a successful songwriter, has died aged 76. Gene made a long string of successful singles for Liberty in the early sixties, starting with A Hundred Pounds of Clay in 1961, and following up with A Tear, Tower of Strength, Chip Chip, Point Of No Return, Spanish Lace, It's A Lonely Town and the Northern soul favourite Walk With A Winner. Many of these suffered from inferior covers in the UK by the likes of Craig Douglas, Frankie Vaughan and Georgie Fame. Later he turned to the black consciousness movement and had some success with Compared To What. He recorded later albums for Atlantic under the name Eugene McDaniels and was a successful songwriter, including Feel Like Makin' Love for Roberta Flack. In recent years he apparently lived as a virtual hermit in Maine. In 1962 he appeared in the British pop film It's Trad Dad, in which he sang Another Tear Falls.

I was away when the news of Amy Winehouse's death came through, but I cannot let it pass without a mention. I was hardly alone in fearing for her life (see The Vinyl Word August 15, 2007, and June 27, 2008) but although sadly inevitable, it was still very sad when it came. She was a truly great talent. May she rest in peace. Here's Amy in happier times


At 4:54 pm , Blogger Dave C said...

Gene McDaniels is an interesting artist, as, in spite of his chart success, he regarded himself as a ‘jazzer’ and was a friend of Miles Davis. He was singing in jazz clubs before signing to Liberty Records, and by the end of the sixties was back in jazz. He appeared on Bobby Hutcherson’s 1969 album ‘Now’ as lead vocalist and co-writer of three of the five numbers. This was also the same year as the famous live recording of the soul-jazz favourite ‘Compared To What’ by Les McCann and Eddie Harris. Gene used to perform with Les McCann and had written the song for him. Did Gene ever record the song himself? Les McCann performed the song at Porretta in 2005 in a group called the ‘Soul Survivors’ with Ronnie Cuber, Cornell Dupree, Chuck Rainey and Buddy Williams (a band which did not receive universal approval from the assembled soul fans). After Gene McDaniels’ 1975 album ‘Natural Juices’ there was gap of thirty years until his next release. We read that he continued in music as a songwriter and record producer, apparently going on to write and produce films. We are also told that he recorded an album in the 1980s which has remained unreleased. Did he continue to perform? He has always been a bit of a mystery to me.

At 6:17 pm , Blogger john marriott said...

There's a recent clip of Gene singing "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" on youtube. First view of him for years and as a result there were moves to get him on next years Cleethorpes weekender.
Sadly not to be now. Great voice.

John Marriott

At 7:23 pm , Blogger Nick said...

There is a version of Compared To What by Gene himself on Youtube which was apparently recorded for a film called Girlfight.

At 7:42 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Gene did indeed have a fine voice. I remember seeing him when he toured the UK in 1962 with Johnny Burnette and Gary US Bonds. And he was undoubtedly one of the best performers in It's Trad Dad, which also featured Helen Shapiro, Chubby Checker, Craig Dougles, John Leyton, Gene Vincent and a bunch of trad jazzers, including the Temperance Seven, Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, Terry Lightfoot and Ottilie Patterson (the last being another recent death).


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