Everybody knows who Marvin Gaye is, but don't nobody know who Eugene McDaniels (a.k.a. the left rev. mc. D.) iso Gaye's Whats Going On and McDaniels's Head/ess Heroes 0/ the Apocalypse were both released in 1971, but whereas one recording has become the artistic benchmark of protest music, the other has existed in relative obscurity. Though McDaniels has always maintained that Headless Heroes was largely satire, it was and still is a stinging indictment of American imperialism and race politics. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, McDaniels had
a relatively successful pop career in the early 1960s recording for the Liberty Record label. Profoundly affected by the tenor of American race politics and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, McDaniels left the country for a few years. It was during this period that McDaniels penned "Compared to What," which was recorded by Roberta Flack on her debut, First Take (1969), and became an international hit for Eddie Harris and Les McCann, who recorded a live version of the song on Swiss Movement, their Montreaux recording that was released in 1970. The song was one of the first political songs that McDaniels wrote, and it opened the door for his two Atlantic releases.