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Soul - Released February 22, 2019 | Rhino

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
A guitarist worshipped by Jimi Hendrix, an insanely good falsetto singer that even Prince looked up to, an author heavily involved in the American civil rights movement and a top-tier songwriter: Curtis Mayfield was a man of many talents. His groovy symphonies helped form solid links between funk, jazz, blues, soul and traditional gospel. After making his name with The Impressions in the 60s, he embarked on a solo career in 1970. This box set named Keep On Keeping On contains the singer’s first four studio albums, each remastered in Hi-Res 24-Bit quality: Curtis (1970), Roots (1971), Back to the World (1973) and Sweet Exorcist (1974). Here, the rhythm'n'blues enjoy a second life, supported by a wah-wah guitar, careful percussion and an always airy string section. Every topic concerned is a mini-tragedy, socially engaged, anchored in traditional gospel music. The masterful arranging of these albums (especially his masterpiece Curtis, and Roots) can be considered rivals to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. It is worth mentioning that this 1970-1974 box set does not include the soundtrack to Superfly, Gordon Parks Jr.’s 1972 film which contains the singles Pusherman and Freddie’s Dead. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released September 13, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Soul - Released August 4, 2000 | Rhino

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The first solo album by the former leader of the Impressions, Curtis represented a musical apotheosis for Curtis Mayfield -- indeed, it was practically the "Sgt. Pepper's" album of '70s soul, helping with its content and its success to open the whole genre to much bigger, richer musical canvases than artists had previously worked with. All of Mayfield's years of experience of life, music, and people were pulled together into a rich, powerful, topical musical statement that reflected not only the most up-to-date soul sounds of its period, finely produced by Mayfield himself, and the immediacy of the times and their political and social concerns, but also embraced the most elegant R&B sounds of the past. As a producer, Mayfield embraced the most progressive soul sounds of the era, stretching them out compellingly on numbers like "Move on Up," but he also drew on orchestral sounds (especially harps), to achieve some striking musical timbres (check out "Wild and Free"), and wove all of these influences, plus the topical nature of the songs, into a neat, amazingly lean whole. There was only one hit single off of this record, "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Down Below We're All Going to Go," which made number three, but the album as a whole was a single entity and really had to be heard that way. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Soul - Released February 15, 2005 | Rhino

Released just two years after the intimate club set Curtis/Live!, Curtis in Chicago consists of a different kind of show, a dream concert celebrating Curtis Mayfield's musical history and Curtom Records for which one is grateful the audio-tape machines were running properly (there was a public-television broadcast of the show, under the same name, that would be a choice video release today). Mayfield; the current Impressions; the original Impressions (including Jerry Butler), the successful mid-'60s version of the group; Gene Chandler (reworking "Duke of Earl"); and Leroy Hutson get to do their best songs, this time in a kind of big-band soul setting backed by the Curtom Rhythm Section augmented by the presence of Phil Upchurch. [A British import release from Sequel includes Curtis/Live! and Curtis in Chicago.] © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Soul - Released November 1, 1972 | Curtom Classics, LLC

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Soul - Released August 15, 2000 | Rhino

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Soul - Released August 10, 2004 | Rhino

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Soul - Released January 1, 2013 | Geffen

The 12-song budget compilation Ballads includes six charting singles from the Impressions released from 1963 through 1968: "I'm So Proud," "I'm the One Who Loves You," "Just One Kiss from You," "I Loved and I Lost," "Love's a Comin'," and "I Can't Stay Away from You." Only the first of that bunch scraped the Top 15 of Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart. Overall, it's an enjoyable set, but it's no match for proper and more generous single-disc overviews such as The Very Best of the Impressions (Rhino, 1997 and 2008) and Ultimate Collection (Hip-O, 2001), both of which were still in print at the time of this set's April 2013 release. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Soul - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino

Back to the World, the first album Curtis Mayfield recorded and released after hitting number one with the intense inner-city vignette Superfly, returned him to a steady balance of optimism for the future and direct social commentary regarding the problems of his people. The lead single, "Future Shock," was inspired by Alvin Toffler's 1970 book of the same name, which warned readers that industrial society was changing so radically that environmental and social problems could be endemic for decades. The track tapped into the same grooves and brass heard on Superfly (perhaps overly so), but said more about the world around ("We got to stop all men, from messing up the land/When won't we understand, this is our last and only chance?"). The title track was very upbeat and positive, as were the refreshing "If I Were Only a Child Again" and "Future Song (Love a Good Woman, Love a Good Man)." With no hit singles to even approach the three high performers from Superfly, though, Back to the World was a distinct disappointment; the music wasn't as powerful as fans were expecting, and though the songs were up to Mayfield's usual high standards, there were many similarities (musically and thematically) to material from each of his proper solo albums. © John Bush /TiVo
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Soul - Released February 15, 2005 | Rhino

Curtis Mayfield hit a stride during the '70s that was unparalleled among R&B/soul performers from an album standpoint. He was writing, producing, arranging, and performing on great album after great album, then distributing them on his own label as well. This one included the big hit "Kung Fu," plus the title song, and once more perfectly blended rigorous message tracks and steamy love songs. Sadly, it hasn't been reissued on CD and isn't on the list to be at this time. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Soul - Released April 15, 2016 | Rhino

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Soul - Released August 30, 1996 | Warner Records

New World Order is a touching, moving comeback from Curtis Mayfield. As the first new music Mayfield recorded since he was paralyzed in 1990, the album engenders a lot of goodwill -- it's undeniably affecting to hear him sing again, especially with the knowledge that his performances had to be recorded line by line, due to his paralysis. The joy of hearing him sing makes the inconsistency of the album forgivable, especially since he is in good voice. Narada Michael Walden, Daryl Simmons, and Organized Noize all contributed productions that are sensitive but strong, which gives the album added weight. The songs are hit-and-miss, but the main strength of the record is that it illustrates that Mayfield can make music that is still vital. © Leo Stanley /TiVo
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Soul - Released November 1, 1972 | Curtom Classics, LLC

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Soul - Released November 1, 1972 | Curtom Classics, LLC

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Soul - Released August 1, 1975 | Curtom Classics, LLC

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. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Soul - Released March 10, 1996 | Curtom Classics, LLC

Rhino's The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield is devoted to material the legendary soul man recorded after leaving the Impressions, focusing particularly on his classic songs from the early '70s. There are more comprehensive compilations on the market, namely the sublime double-disc Anthology and the flawed but worthwhile box set People Get Ready, but this is the best bet for anyone wanting a concise sampler of Mayfield's groundbreaking funk-soul, since it contains all of the bare-bone essentials: "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go," "Move on Up," "We Got to Have Peace," "Freddie's Dead," "Superfly," "Pusherman," "Future Shock," and "Kung Fu." Yes, Mayfield also made cohesive, frequently stunning albums during this era and his work with the Impressions was just as influential, but this disc benefits from its narrow focus, since the end result is a collection ideal for the curious and the novice, while also providing a great listen for anyone who already knows the records. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Soul - Released April 26, 1981 | Boardwalk Records

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Soul - Released January 1, 1977 | Curtom Classics, LLC

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). © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Soul - Released September 1, 1979 | Curtom Classics, LLC

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Soul - Released April 26, 1982 | Boardwalk Records