Apr 18, 2015

RhoDeo 1515 Grooves


Today.for the third and final time a singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer, truly one of the greats, a pioneer in funk and socially aware R&B. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. Inducted into Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 (Performer). Inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame after his premature death in 2000. Here to,,,,,N'joy

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

Perhaps because he didn't cross over to the pop audience as heavily as Motown's stars, it may be that the scope of Curtis Mayfield's talents and contributions have yet to be fully recognized. Judged merely by his records alone, the man's legacy is enormous. As the leader of the Impressions, he recorded some of the finest soul vocal group music of the 1960s. As a solo artist in the 1970s, he helped pioneer funk and helped introduce hard-hitting urban commentary into soul music. "Gypsy Woman," "It's All Right," "People Get Ready," "Freddie's Dead," and "Super Fly" are merely the most famous of his many hit records.

 But Curtis Mayfield wasn't just a singer. He wrote most of his material at a time when that was not the norm for soul performers. He was among the first -- if not the very first -- to speak openly about African-American pride and community struggle in his compositions. As a songwriter and a producer, he was a key architect of Chicago soul, penning material and working on sessions by notable Windy City soulsters like Gene Chandler, Jerry Butler, Major Lance, and Billy Butler. In this sense, he can be compared to Smokey Robinson, who also managed to find time to write and produce many classics for other soul stars. Mayfield was also an excellent guitarist, and his rolling, Latin-influenced lines were highlights of the Impressions' recordings in the '60s. During the next decade, he would toughen up his guitar work and production, incorporating some of the best features of psychedelic rock and funk.

Mayfield began his career as an associate of Jerry Butler, with whom he formed the Impressions in the late '50s. After the Impressions had a big hit in 1958 with "For Your Precious Love," Butler, who had sung lead on the record, split to start a solo career. Mayfield, while keeping the Impressions together, continued to write for and tour with Butler before the Impressions got their first Top 20 hit in 1961, "Gypsy Woman."

Mayfield was heavily steeped in gospel music before he entered the pop arena, and gospel, as well as doo wop, influences would figure prominently in most of his '60s work. Mayfield wasn't a staunch traditionalist, however. He and the Impressions may have often worked the call-and-response gospel style, but his songs (romantic and otherwise) were often veiled or unveiled messages of black pride, reflecting the increased confidence and self-determination of the African-American community. Musically he was an innovator as well, using arrangements that employed the punchy, blaring horns and Latin-influenced rhythms that came to be trademark flourishes of Chicago soul. As the staff producer for the OKeh label, Mayfield was also instrumental in lending his talents to the work of other Chi-town soul singers who went on to national success. With Mayfield singing lead and playing guitar, the Impressions had 14 Top 40 hits in the 1960s (five made the Top 20 in 1964 alone), and released some above-average albums during that period as well.

Given Mayfield's prodigious talents, it was perhaps inevitable that he would eventually leave the Impressions to begin a solo career, as he did in 1970. His first few singles boasted a harder, more funk-driven sound; singles like "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go" found him confronting ghetto life with a realism that had rarely been heard on record. He really didn't hit his artistic or commercial stride as a solo artist, though, until Super Fly, his soundtrack to a 1972 blaxploitation film. Drug deals, ghetto shootings, the death of young black men before their time: all were described in penetrating detail. Yet Mayfield's irrepressible falsetto vocals, uplifting melodies, and fabulous funk pop arrangements gave the oft-moralizing material a graceful strength that few others could have achieved. For all the glory of his past work, Superfly stands as his crowning achievement, not to mention a much-needed counterpoint to the sensationalistic portrayals of the film itself.

At this point Mayfield, along with Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, was the foremost exponent of a new level of compelling auteurism in soul. His failure to maintain the standards of Super Fly qualifies as one of the great disappointments in the history of black popular music. Perhaps he'd simply reached his peak after a long climb, but the rest of his '70s work didn't match the musical brilliance and lyrical subtleties of Super Fly, although he had a few large R&B hits in a much more conventional vein, such as "Kung Fu," "So in Love," and "Only You Babe."

Mayfield had a couple of hits in the early '80s, but the decade generally found his commercial fortunes in a steady downward spiral, despite some intermittent albums. On August 14, 1990, he became paralyzed from the neck down when a lighting rig fell on top of him at a concert in Brooklyn, NY. In the mid-'90s, a couple of tribute albums consisting of Mayfield covers appeared, with contributions by such superstars as Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, and Gladys Knight. Though no substitute for the man himself, these tributes served as an indication of the enormous regard in which Mayfield was still held by his peers. He died December 26, 1999 at the age of 57.

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

The title is intended in an ironic way, as illustrated not only by the cover -- a grim parody of late-'40s/early-'50s advertising imagery depicting white versus black social reality -- but the grim yet utterly catchy and haunting opening number, "Billy Jack." A song about gun violence that was years ahead of its time, it's scored to an incisive horn arrangement by Richard Tufo. "When Seasons Change" is a beautifully wrought account of the miseries of urban life that contains elements of both gospel and contemporary soul. The album's one big song, "So in Love," which made number 67 on the pop charts but was a Top Ten soul hit, is only the prettiest of a string of exquisite tracks on the album, including "Blue Monday People" and "Jesus" and the soaring finale, "Love to the People," broken up by the harder-edged "Hard Times." The album doesn't really have as clearly delineated a body of songs as Mayfield's earlier topical releases, but it's in the same league with his other work of the period and represents him near his prime as a composer.

Curtis Mayfield - There's No Place Like America Today  (flac  211mb)

01 Billy Jack 6:07
02 When Seasons Change 5:23
03 So In Love 5:10
04 Jesus 6:10
05 Blue Monday People 4:45
06 Hard Times 3:42
07 Love To The People 4:06

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

Less sociopolitical than previous efforts, Give Get Take Have offers "Mr. Welfare Man" as its sole attempt to enlighten and enhance. Mayfield was obviously experiencing the joys of new love when he cut "Only You Babe" and "This Love Is Sweet," and the tear-jerking numbers "In Your Arms Again" and "Party Night." His aching falsetto coos and purrs, but sounds weakened on this LP. Overall, the album falls short of Mayfield's former releases, but even great artists don't always achieve their usual high standards. This was originally released on Curtom Records in the mid-'70s. Never Say You Can't Survive was the last Curtis Mayfield album done in a pure soul vein for the next three years -- its style and sound place it in a direct continuity with the rest of his output right back to 1958. The singing on love songs such as "Show Me Love," "Just Want to Be With You," and "When We're Alone" is among the most achingly lyrical and passionate of his career. The title track boasts ravishing backup singing by Kitty & the Haywoods (who also perform outstandingly on "I'm Gonna Win Your Love") and a beautiful arrangement by James Mack. The album's final track, "Sparkle" (written for Sam O'Steen's movie of the same name, starring Philip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara, and Lonette McKee), gets one of three distinct treatments that the song ever received (the others from the soundtrack and Aretha Franklin's version).

Curtis Mayfield - Give, Get, Take And Have/Never Say You Can't Survive (flac 427mb)

01 In Your Arms Again (Shake It) 4:24
02 This Love Is Sweet 3:08
03 P.S. I Love You 3:57
04 Party Night 3:48
05 Get A Little Bit (Give, Get, Take And Have) 3:34
06 Soul Music 3:58
07 Only You Babe 4:20
08 Mr. Welfare Man 5:44
Never Say You Can't Survive
09 Show Me Love 5:11
10 Just Want To Be With You 3:11
11 When We're Alone 5:23
12 Never Say You Can't Survive 3:17
13 I'm Gonna Win Your Love 4:41
14 All Night Long 4:12
15 When You Used To Be Mine 3:39
16 Mr. Welfare Man 4:00

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

The last Curtis Mayfield album distributed by Warner Bros., during Curtom Records' declining years of 1977-1978, was a maddening album, a complete break in style as Mayfield moved into a pure disco vein. It was his most successful album in three years, but it alienated many longtime fans because he deliberately dumbed down his writing -- he traded his core audience, who couldn't abide the album, for a slightly larger disco audience that had previously eluded him, painting himself into an artistic and career corner. The title track was indicative of the artistic nadir to which Mayfield had to descend to find where the mass audience had gone, a number without an ounce of poetry that he wouldn't have wasted his time with in the studio, much less completed or released, in years past; the beat and the arrangements rather overwhelm anything that Mayfield is saying or singing throughout this album. The closest one gets to the old Curtis Mayfield sound, which is to say, to Curtis Mayfield at all, is "In Love, In Love, In Love," a relatively subdued and soulful number which would have been a secondary track on almost any album that preceded this one, and it is practically lost here, sandwiched in between the commercial dance numbers "Keeps Me Loving You" and "You Are, You Are." Mayfield would adapt his style better to the needs of disco with Heartbeat, his next album.

Curtis Mayfield - Do It All Night (flac 218mb)

01 Ain't Got Time 5:10
02 Sweet Exorcist 3:50
03 To Be Invisible 4:12
04 Power To The People 3:26
05 Kung Fu 6:02
06 Suffer 4:06
07 Make Me Believe In You 5:32

xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please re-up Curtis Mayfield: There's No Place Like America Today, Give, Get, Take And Have/Never Say You Can't Survive, Do It All Night