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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.
But there are a handful of people for whom the monicker is entirely suitable. In fact if there was an even higher superlative than that to bestow upon an artist then Curtis Mayfield is one of the few whom it should be used to describe.
Blazing a trail for so many who were greatful to follow him - to walk through the doors that he opened - Curtis dared to talk about the social issues of the day - particularly those affecting black people in America. But the beauty of this album is that the music does not suffer because of it - in fact if you wanted to be ignorant enough you could love this album without knowing anything of the message Curtis was trying to get across, simply because the songs are so good.
Personal highlights include the swiring carousel-like 'Makings Of You' which is indicative of Curtis's unique approach to making soul music - all strange time signiatures, tubas, harps, and various other instruments you wouldn't necessarily expect to associate with genre, the Beautiful 'We The People' and of course the astonishing album version of 'Move On Up', which pounds on for over seven minutes and still makes you want to re-start the track as soon as it's over.
To finish, I can only use another very over-used word to describe this wonderful - classic.
Just buy it and enjoy.
Thus, the tracks here have a positive message, of self determination and social justice, of freedom and equality. That is all set to the funky multi layered sound that would become Curtis' trademark. The full version of the albums best known track "Move On Up" is an excellent example; that familiar horn opening, driving congas and Curtis' falsetto vocal and it's message of hope, with the close a funk workout that was absent from the hit single version.
Other stand-out tracks include "The Other Side Of Town", one of Mayfield's most political songs, about the debilitating effect of ghetto life, and his hymn to his race "We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue". There is only one track which has love (or at least its ending) as a theme, the final cut "Give It Up" which is about the end of a relationship.
Curtis Mayfield went on to cement his place as one of the Black Musics premier artists as well as a spokesman for his people during a career that lasted until 1990 when he was paralysed when a lighting rig fell on him while onstage rehearsing. This album at the beginning of his solo career, saw his talent in full flow.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm very happy with this CD. It arrived in excellent condition.Published 2 months ago by Lesley Hewett
A sonic delight with social consciousness to the fore in this nearly perfect album. Curtis never sounded better!Published 11 months ago by paul michael
This Mobile Fidelity a Sound Lab release of Curtis shows us how great this album can sound from the low synth bass sound in the first track to the low kick drum in Move On Up, it's... Read morePublished on 12 Jan. 2014 by Joost
As above this is a seminal recording of one of the great artists of the twentieth century, each track is well workedPublished on 2 Oct. 2013 by Garry Wilson
Had it on vinyl so replaced with cd, it's a shame they put so much instrumental of each song at the end, but still a great singer none the less.Published on 10 Aug. 2013 by Mrs. Sj Tadhunter