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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 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 April 10, 2007 | Rhino

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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 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 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

Soul - Released April 15, 2016 | Rhino

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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 /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 4, 2005 | Rhino

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Soul - Released January 1, 1990 | CAPITOL CATALOG MKT (C92)

No less than 18 years passed between the release of Curtis Mayfield's original Superfly soundtrack in 1972 and the release of The Return of Superfly: Original Soundtrack in 1990. To say that the African-American musical landscape had changed considerably during those 18 years would be a major understatement. Urban contemporary, not soul, had become R&B's dominant direction, and rap had become the music of choice for young Blacks. So this CD emphasized rap, but it also acknowledged 1970s Black culture by offering five new tunes by Mayfield, one of the era's icons. The new Mayfield material, which includes "Superfly 1990" (a duet with Ice-T) and "Showdown," isn't in a class with "Pusherman" and other gems he recorded in the 1970s, but they demonstrated that the singer could still be enjoyable. Meanwhile, all of the rap selections are by West Coast MCs, and they range from the late Eazy-E's "Eazy Street" (a menacing gangsta rap ditty) and the underrated Def Jef's "On the Real Tip" to Tone Loc's cult song "Cheeba Cheeba" (which took its share of criticism for promoting marijuana use). Also noteworthy is the Uzi Bros.' "There's a Riot Jumpin' Off," a commentary on the American prison system. To be sure, this collection falls short of the excellence of the original Superfly soundtrack of 1972, but most of the material is decent, if less than essential. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 31, 2006 | Rhino

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 September 13, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Soul - Released August 4, 2000 | Rhino

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 March 4, 1997 | Rhino

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 July 20, 1999 | Rhino

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Soul - Released June 18, 2002 | Rhino

It's hard to make heads or tails of all the Curtis Mayfield collections that have surfaced over the years, and 2002 saw the release of yet another set, The Essentials. But unlike most other "Essential" collections (Rhino Records' ongoing budget-priced series that focuses on a wide variety of classic artists), the track listing of the Curtis Mayfield edition leaves out far too many classics; gems like "Pusherman," "Move On Up," and "We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue" are all suspiciously absent. Granted, quite a few Mayfield classics are present, such as "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go," "Freddie's Dead (Theme from "Superfly")," and "Superfly," but the aforementioned missing tracks prevent the collection from being definitive. You'd be better off spending the extra few bucks on 1996's more extensive The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield [Rhino], in order to get the handful of hits missing from The Essentials. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 10, 2006 | Rhino

Something to Believe In was the result of previous album Heartbeat's success, a great-selling comeback for Curtis Mayfield in his own style, fully in his control. The album's sales success was limited, but its musical triumphs were myriad -- the beautiful "Something to Believe In," an extended track that is one of the most personal and ambitious records in Mayfield's whole output; the exquisite solo remakes of the Impressions hits "It's Alright" and "Never Let Me Go"; and the gorgeous ballad "Never Stop Loving Me," a sensual soul outing that provides a superb finish to the album. Strangely enough, the commercial single side "Love Me, Love Me Now" is one of the less impressive sides, on a production or composition level, among the seven tracks here. [A 1999 reissue by the British Sequel label combined Something to Believe In with 1979's Heartbeat.] © Bruce Eder /TiVo