Eugene McDaniels had a long, successful career as a songwriter. Hundreds of musicians recorded his music.
Gene and Roberta Flack had a long history and friendship; Gene adored Roberta, he considered her family. In fact Eugene’s 1971 album liner notes (for his album Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse) included this message to Roberta: "Special thanks to Miss Roberta Flack for not being afraid to help a brother. She, in my opinion, is a lady of quality, grace, humanity and talent of the highest order. I love you, Bert-G."
In many ways Roberta’s voice was Gene’s muse for much of his early writing; as he was writing “Feel Like Makin’ Love’, which took him just 45 minutes to write, he said he knew it was for Roberta and that it would be a hit. He was right, Roberta’s single of “Feel Like Makin’ Love” went to #1 on Billboard and recieved millions of airplays earning it a Gold Record.
In addition to “Feel Like Makin’ Love (1974), Roberta Flack recorded ten other songs written by Gene including “Compared to What” (1969), recently heard opening the 2015 remake of the movie “Man From Uncle, Early Ev’ry Midnight”, Feelin’ The Glow”, “Old Heartbreak Top Ten”, Love Is The Healing”, “Reverend Lee”, “River”, “Sunday and Sister Jones”, “When Love Has Grown” (recorded with the amazing Donny Hathaway, one of Gene’s all time favorite male singers), and “Why Don’t You Move In With Me”.
Over the years Gene and Roberta talked numerous times about her covering more of his unreleased songs but both were busy with other projects and sadly a final project together never happened.
"Tree of Life"
Aretha Franklin's cover of Eugene’s "Tree of Life" was an outtake from the 1973 recording session for her album, Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky). The song was finally released in 2007 on Aretha’s Rare & Unreleased Recordings From The Golden Reign Of The Queen Of Soul.
Eugene wrote the lyrics on three tracks on this 1970 avant-garde jazz release, the first by vibraphonist Hutcherson to include vocals. Of this album Hutcherson said, “I wanted to do a different album…just so may thing can be done with a quintet…sound-wise…I wanted to try some different things…the idea of the voices comes from Joe Chambers. He’s mentioned to me he'd written a tune to which Gene McDaniels had written lyrics."
Eugene also sang lead vocal on these 3 tracks as well as on Black Heroes, written by Harold Land.
Free Soul, Soul free
Touch me feel you change
Locked door lost key
Touch me freak me
Catch the spiral falling upward
God is watching, God is dying
Eugene and Eddie Harris performed this Eugene penned song at the 1970 Newport Jazz Festival. It was recorded live for Eddie Harris’ 1970 release, Live at Newport (Atlantic). Eugene also recorded it on his 1970 Atlantic release, Outlaw.
ROY AYERS UBIQUITY
"Hummin'" was recorded by Roy Ayers Ubiquity in 1970 on Polydor Records.
Eugene produced this 1979 funk/soul/disco album and co-wrote five tracks: “Levitation" (Eugene & Jimi Macon), "Go Down To The Disco” (Eugene, David L Smyrl, Billy Barnes (Eugene’s childhood friend and his bandmate in The Sultans and The Admirals), "Woman Love/You Are My Lady" (Eugene & Jimi Macon), "Brand New Lite” (Eugene, Curtis Nolen, Raymond Crossley), and "The Best Of Our Love” (Eugene & Leon Pendarvis).
The great Lena Horne recorded two Eugene penned songs on her 1971 release for the Buddah label, "Nature’s Baby", the title track, and "Mother Time".
"Disposable Society" was recorded by Esther Phillips in 1974 on her album Performance on Kudo, an offshoot of CTI Records. The session consisted of Bob James, Hubert Laws, Bernard Purdie, Richard Tee, Pepper Adams, Michael Brecker and was arranged by Pee Wee Ellis with assistance from Eugene.
Natalie Cole recorded "Reverend Lee" on her 1999 album Snowfall on the Sahara on Elektra. "Reverend Lee" had previously been recorded by Roberta Flack in 1970 release, Chapter Two and by Eugene (aka The Left Rev. McD) on his 1971 album, Outlaw. About the song, one reviewer posits whether it might not be autobiographical: “Reverend Lee” is an undeniably excellent bit of country funk that tells the story of a tryst with Satan’s daughter, ending in what might be termed a “pitchfork wedding”; keeping in mind McDaniels’s adopted alias, one can’t help but wonder if there’s a bit of truth to the story.” —Scott Hreha, Popmatters.com http://www.popmatters.com/review/mcdanielseugene-outlaw/
Eugene produced this 1978 jazz/funk release and wrote/co-wrote two songs, “Happening In The Streets” and “Feeling Good” (Eugene & Alan Sylvestri). There were ten Voltage brothers, Jim (trumpet, vocals), Gary (trumpet, flugelhorn) Raymond (tenor and soprano sax), John (trombone, vocals), Romar (6 string electric guitar), Bruce (drums), Steve (percussion, flute, vocals), Doug (Fender Rhodes, clarinet, Hammond B3 organ), Rudy (bass, vocal) and Larry (vocals, congas, percussion).
Gladys Knight & the Pips
Eugene wrote (and also produced) four tracks on the 1975 Gladys Knights and the Pips release, 2nd Anniversary (Buddah Records); “Money", "Summer Sun," "Feel Like Makin’ Love," and "Street Brother."
RUTHIE FOSTER COVERS “OUTLAW”
Texas native and gospel/folk/blues singer Ruthie Foster covered “Outlaw” on her Grammy nominated album, Promise of a Brand New Day feat. Meshell Ndegeocello. Ndegeocello also produced the album.
THE MAN FROM SHAFT (MGM) 1973
Eugene also produced this album. Unfortunately there are no available digital tracks but it is available on vinyl.
- "Tree of Life"
- "Peace in the Morning" (co-written with Leon Pendarvis)
- "I'm Here"
- "Street Brother"
- "Man From Shaft" (co-written with Leon Pendarvis)
- "The Letter" (co-written with Richard Roundtree)
- "Gets Hard Sometimes" (MALE VERSION)
MORE NOTABLE RECORDINGS OF GENE’S MUSIC
The Voltage Bros
This Eugene produced album was released on Lifesong Records in 1978, and includes two tracks written by Eugene.
- "Happening in the Streets"
- "Feeling Good"
- "Reverend Lee"
- "American Wedding Song"
Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, Diane Schuur,
& Dave Valentin as GRP Live In Session
- "Reverend Lee"
Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow 1975 (Ode)
Eugene wrote 5 tracks on this album by vocalist Clayton, best known for her duet with Mick Jagger on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter."
- "Get Hard Sometimes"
- "Sink or Swim"
- "Gold Fever"
- "If I Lose"
- "Do What You Know"