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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
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Soul - Released August 10, 2004 | Rhino

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Roots is Curtis Mayfield's visionary album, a landmark creation every bit as compelling and far-reaching in its musical and extra-musical goals as Marvin Gaye's contemporary What's Goin' On. Opening on the hit "Get Down," the album soars on some of the sweetest and most eloquent -- yet driving -- soul sounds heard up to that time. Mayfield's growing musical ambitions, first manifested on the Curtis album, and his more sophisticated political sensibilities, presented with a lot of raw power on Curtis Live!, are pulled together here in a new, richer studio language, embodied in extended song structures ("Underground"), idealistic yet lyrically dazzling anthems ("We Got to Have Peace," "Keep On Keeping On," and, best of all, the soaring "Beautiful Brother of Mine"), and impassioned blues ("Now You're Gone"). The music is even bolder than the material on the Curtis album, with Mayfield expanding his instrumental range to the level of a veritable soul orchestra; and the recording is better realized, as Mayfield, with that album and a tour behind him, shows a degree of confidence that only a handful of soul artists of this era could have mustered. ~ Bruce Eder
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Soul - Released February 22, 2019 | Rhino

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Soul - Released April 15, 2016 | Rhino

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Soul - Released August 15, 2000 | Rhino

Curtis/Live! is, simply, one of the greatest concert albums ever cut on a soul artist, and one of the legendary live albums of all time. Cut in January of 1971 during four nights at The Bitter End (then Greenwich Village's leading music venue) in New York, the resulting double LP transcended any expectations in both its programming and execution -- Mayfield performed numbers off of the Curtis album ([RoviLink="MC"]"[Don't Worry] If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go"[/RoviLink]), as well as exciting and urgent new versions of songs originally performed by the Impressions ("We're a Winner," "People Get Ready," "Gypsy Woman"), plus a very moving R&B version of "We've Only Just Begun." This is all beautifully stripped-down work by a quintet consisting of Mayfield (vocals, guitar), Craig McMullen (guitar), Tyrone McCullen (drums), "Master" Henry Gibson (percussion), and Joseph "Lucky" Scott (bass) -- a solid, intense performance, with quietly elegant guitar playing against a rock-solid rhythm section, as Impressions hits are rethought and reconfigured in a new context, and Mayfield's early solo repertory comes to life in newer, longer live versions. [The British import from Sequel adds the complete contents of 1973's live Curtis in Chicago.] ~ Bruce Eder
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Jazz - Released September 12, 2014 | Woodstock Tapes

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Soul - Released August 30, 1996 | Warner Bros.

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
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Soul - Released December 18, 2015 | Rhino

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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
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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
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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
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Soul - Released May 23, 2018 | Doxy Records

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Soul - Released September 13, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Geffen

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R&B - Released January 1, 2003 | Memo Music

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R&B - Released November 25, 2017 | Resurfaced Records