Revisiting Curtis Mayfield’s Classics-Filled Back Catalog

Posted by Billyjam, September 22, 2020 07:22pm | Post a Comment

Since recently locating and digitizing the above publicity VHS Curtis Mayfield 1996 EPK (electronic press kit) I have been on a Curtis Mayfield music listening kick. I’d forgotten just how many incredible pieces of music that the artist/activist, who died three years after the above video was made to promote what would be the legendary soul singer/songwriter/guitarist’s final studio album New World Order, had recorded over his influential career as both a solo artist and originally as the main member of The Impressions. So important was Mayfield's musical output that he became known as the voice of the Civil Rights Movement thanks to songs such as The Impressions' "Keep On Pushing." In fact that song inspired the title of author Denise Sullivan's 2011 black power music book as covered by the Amobeblog. Below are some of the endlessly talented Curtis Mayfiled's back catalog titles that are currently available from Amoeba on vinyl and CD formats.

1:  Curtis Mayfield Curtis 180 gram vinyl LP (1970 released solo debut)
2: The Impressions Ultimate Collection CD (20 song compilation of the group's ultimate tracks)
3: Curtis Mayfield  Super Fly OST CD (also avail on hybrid SACD format) (1972 OST, artist's third solo)
4: Curtis Mayfield  Original Album Series Box Set (5 CD set is best value for your buck with 47 songs)
 Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions The Anthology 1961-1977 (2CD set of solo & group output) 

The Impressions "It's Alright"
Curtis Mayfield came to the general public’s attention in the sixties as a member of The Impressions. But his career began a decade earlier in the mid 50’s when he became a member of the Roosters, the group also featuring Jerry ButlerArthur Brooks, Richard Brooks and Sam Gooden that would morph into The Impressions. Following a lineup change and temporarily leaving the group Curtis Mayfield became the Impressions' lead singer. As such he was responsible for a string of hits including “Amen,” "Gypsy Woman,” “Keep On Pushing," "People Get Ready", "Talking about My Baby,” "Woman's Got Soul" and "It's All Right.” All of these and another 13 songs are found on the highly recommended group's Ultimate Collection CD.

The 1970 Curtis Mayfield album Curtis was initially released on his own Curtom Records is currently available from Amoeba as Curtis 180 gram vinyl LP  thanks to Rhino UK. Now five decades old this album was Mayfield's solo debut. A true classic, Curtis captures firsthand the social and political view from a Black American at that critical point in US history. Further it contains what many, including myself, consider to be the Curtis Mayfield’s greatest song, “Move On Up” (video below). That self-empowering anthem is just one of many timeless classics on this soul masterpiece that also includes “Miss Black America,” "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go,” “The Other Side Of Town" and “The Makings Of You.”
Curtis Mayfield "Give Me Your Love" from Super Fly 1972

Another must-have Curtis Mayfield album is the artist’s third solo album / soundtrack to the 1972 blaxploitation flick Super Fly OST CD (also avail on hybrid SACD format) that includes the now classics “Freddie’s Dead” and “Pusherman.” Both the album Super Fly and Curtis along with three other Mayfield albums (Curtis Live, Roots and Back To The World) are all neatly compiled on the 5CD box set  Original Album Series Box Set  that's the best dollar value of all the releases listed here. Another good value collection is the 2CD set of 40 songs total of Curtis Mayfield solo and The Impressions back catalog spanning sixteen years; The Anthology 1961-1977.   

Additionally Curtis Mayfield’s songwriting hits for others should be also not be overlooked here. These include “Mama Didn’t Lie” for Jan Bradley, "Um,Um,Um,Um,Um,Um" and "The Monkey Time” for Major Lance and for Jerry Butler the hits"He Will Break Your Heart,” "Find Another Girl" and "I'm A-Tellin' You.” 

Curtis Mayfield "Move On Up" (1970)

Relevant Tags

Curtis Mayfield (8), The Impressions (1)