This 2CD selection culled from Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label and its affiliates (Windy C, Gemigo, Mayfield and Thomas) is quite simply stunning. The track selection and sequencing make for a fantastic journey through some 14 years of developments in 'black' music covering the period 1966-1980. Rather than take the obvious route of compiling them in date order the years and styles are mixed across both CD's. So whilst the informed funk of Curtis' Superfly rubs shoulders with the socially charged Notations' "Superpeople", Jesse Anderson turns The Impressions "Readings In Astrology" into a rolling groove based dance tune before reducing their epic "Mighty Mighty, Spade & Whitey into a menacing three and a half minutes of instrumental funk neatly toppped with subtle flute. The Five Stairsteps & Cubie offer some awesome late 60's and early 70's cuts steeped in Chicago soul's trademarks: latin flavoured brass parts, bitter sweet harmonies and fantastic lead vocal performances. The previously unreleased on CD (I think) Brooks Brothers "Come See" is a gem which should have funky Northern soul fans dancing and smiling whilst classics by Arnold Blair, Leroy Hutson and Linda Clifford should achieve the same with those who like to boogie. Fred Wesley, Mavis Staples, Marvin Smith, The Fascinations, Jamo Thomas, June Conquest, The Natural Four and Major Lance all present us with equally fine recordings. That DJ Johnny Chandler has managed to seemlessly blend the years and the styles is astounding and his sleevenotes, including a tribute to Joe Strummer are inspiring. In a world where the word 'Essential' is used endlessly to help promote releases which are far from needed, The Curtom Story breathes life back into the idea that every so often someone does a truly proper job and the result is quite simply awesome.