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Soul - Released February 22, 2019 | Rhino

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Soul - Released December 18, 2015 | Rhino

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Soul - Released April 10, 2007 | Rhino

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Soul - Released June 15, 1982 | Rhino

A CD reissue of an old Mayfield platter that didn't garner as much interest as some of his other solo releases, and for good reason: Mayfield was experimenting with his sound. After the first three songs nothing else really works until the last cut: "Come Free Your People," one of Mayfield's best albeit little-known message songs. The most engaging of the eight tunes are the reggae-influenced "She Don't Love Nobody Else," "Toot an' Toot an' Toot," and the lilting "Baby Doll." ~ Andrew Hamilton
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Soul - Released July 12, 2016 | 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 [RoviLink="MW"]The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield [Rhino][/RoviLink], in order to get the handful of hits missing from The Essentials. ~ Greg Prato
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Soul - Released July 12, 2016 | Rhino

Unlike Mayfield's more well-known work in the 1970s, his 1980s material is more soulful than funky. Songs like "Hey Baby (Give It All to Me)" and "Still Within Your Heart" are missing the hard-hitting urban commentary and focus instead on a romantic vibe similar to love songs by Al Green, Barry White, and Marvin Gaye. No clunkers here, but "Dirty Laundry'" is an outstanding track, and one of Mayfield's best during the decade. Honesty is a soft, sensual album that transports the listener back to the days of the Impressions more than those of Superfly. [In 2000, Boardwalk re-released this underrated album.] ~ JT Griffith
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Soul - Released January 21, 2014 | Rhino

In the 1980s and '90s, some soul veterans turned to high-tech urban contemporary sounds in an effort to appeal to black radio. Curtis Mayfield, however, continued to deliver rewarding albums by remaining true to himself and sticking with the type of classic soul approach that put him on the map. Take It to the Streets falls short of the unmitigated excellence of Superfly or Sweet Exorcist, but is a respectable effort demonstrating that he could still pack a punch as a vocalist, composer, and producer. There's much to savor and admire here, including "Homeless" (which makes it clear that Mayfield hadn't lost his touch when it came to biting sociopolitical commentary), "He's a Fly Guy," the charismatic "Who Was That Lady," and an engaging remake of "On and On" (a gem he wrote for Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1973). With the re-emergence of hard-hitting blaxploitation films in the late '80s, the gritty imagery of "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka" and the haunting "He's a Fly Guy" proved quite timely. While this material could have used some horns, Mayfield generally employs technology in a soulful way -- employing "real instruments" along with keyboards and drum machines, and never letting his production sound stiff, unnatural, or forced. ~ Alex Henderson
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Soul - Released June 15, 1985 | Rhino

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Soul - Released March 4, 1997 | Rhino

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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 August 4, 2000 | Rhino

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Soul - Released April 19, 2005 | Rhino

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Soul - Released April 10, 2007 | Rhino

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Soul - Released March 15, 2005 | Rhino

When in the course of an artist or label's lifetime it becomes necessary to spruce up and reinvigorate its back catalog, there are plenty of options that can be considered for that much needed shot in the arm to bring new life and listeners to the fold. Remastering and repackaging to meet modern technology and audiophile standards is one way, sensibly priced compilations surveying a period of time is another. Then there is the recent, mildly sacrilegious process of having modern-day artists with name clout take a stab at "remixing" or "reconstructing" an artist or label's well-known hits. This practice is easily the most risky of the three, as sometimes the experiment works and other times it is a complete disaster. With Mayfield: Remixed, it borders on complete blasphemy from nearly the start to finish, the sole relief being Ashley Beedle's excellent edit of "Do Do Wap Is Strong in Here" and King Britt's wobbly take on "Little Child Running Wild." The tired cliché-ridden percussive exercise that Louie Vega and Blaze offer up on "Superfly" and "Freddie's Dead" not only insult the raw funk explosion found on the originals, it strips the anthems of all social commentary in favor of a predictable house beat borderlining on budget-line chillout comp status. Calling Eric Kupper's "remix" of "Move On Up" a cultural injustice doesn't fully explain how much he is at fault of the same crime. It's a shame that the remixes found on here aren't even crimes of passion; they're just poorly thought out and badly executed performances in exchange for quick cash. Perhaps the best alternative would have been to just reissue, remaster, and calibrate Curtis' works into a respectful, long overdue project. Or perhaps find artists who would have a better sensitivity to the context of the original works. Or better yet? Just leave it fine and well alone. ~ Rob Theakston
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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
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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
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Soul - Released January 10, 2006 | Rhino

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Soul - Released January 10, 2006 | Rhino

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Soul - Released July 12, 2016 | Rhino

Although Curtis Mayfield's album sales had decreased significantly by the late '70s, the smooth Chicago soul veteran remained a popular live attraction well into the '80s. Audiences still longed to hear gems from both his years with the influential Impressions and his early solo hits, and he gives them exactly what they want on this album (released as both a single CD and a two-CD set). Mayfield reminds us just how great the Impressions were on heartfelt versions of such '60s classics as "Gypsy Woman" (which greatly influenced the Isley Brothers), "It's Alright" and the inspirational "People Get Ready," and is equally captivating on incisive, early-'70s sociopolitical hits like "Pusherman," "Freddie's Dead," and "If There's a Hell Below." Live in Europe's main flaw isn't Mayfield's performances, but a band that, although decent, just doesn't go that extra mile or do this superb material justice. Horns, a main ingredient of many of his hits, are sorely missed -- especially on "Move on Up" -- and Buzz Amato's keyboards simply can't take their place. ~ Alex Henderson