This album takes as it's inspiration the social and political issues of it's era. During his time with the Impressions, Curtis Mayfield had long supported the Civil Rights movement, and on his first solo album he gives full rein to his sense of injustice at the way America was in the 60's. This album was released in 1970.
That does not mean the message overwhelms the music - far from it. Mayfield had one of the most inventive approaches to Soul, and that is on display in all it's glory on "Curtis". Starting with a spoken intro over a conga driven groove, "Don't Worry..." challenges you up front with racial insults, before settling into it's funky stride. Slower in tempo, but equally hard hitting, "The Other Side of Town" chronicles ghetto life and these show Mayfield at his best, both musically and socially.
There's more Funk on "Move On Up", a well known track, here in it's full 7 minute form, and there are more positive messages on "....Darker than Blue" and "Miss Black America". Turning to matters of the heart, the mid tempo "Give It Up" regrets the passing of love, while "The Makings Of You" has Curtis celebrating the love of his life.
This expanded edition also includes bonus tracks which are worthwhile for the way they give a picture of how Curtis developed his music. There are demo versions of tracks on the original "Curtis", tracks which would appear on later albums in their finished forms (Underground) and Ghetto Child later became "Little Child Running Wild" on "Superfly"
Curtis Mayfield was a musical genius, and although his later output would be uneven, this is one of at least 4 essential albums from the 70's that he wrote produced and performed. It is well worth your time and money.