CURTIS MAYFIELD Curtis (Sequel)
CURTIS MAYFIELD Superfly (Sequel)
Sequel are a division of low-price compilation shifters Castle, and they've done the decent thing in reissuing a load of impossible-to-find early Curtis Mayfield albums as (so says the cover sticker) "remastered collectors' edition 180 gram heavyweight vinyl" pressings with "original luxury gatefold packaging". "Curtis" is, logically enough, his 1971 debut, and its mix of religious and political protest takes a little of the innovatory shine off "What's Going On" (released eight months later). Standouts include "( Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Gonna Go" and a nine minute version of the classic "Move On Up"; points are deducted for the twee "Miss Black America".
Many critics point to "Superfly" as Mayfield's greatest work. Being the soundtrack of the blaxploitation movie of the same name its coherency is sapped by a couple of scene-setting instrumentals, but otherwise the album is pure pleasure. Disapproving of what he perceived as the film's pro-drugs message, he aimed to balance perspectives with the soundtrack, which included classics like "Pusherman", "Freddie's Dead" and "Give Me Your Love", last seen round these parts being covered by mariachi country types Lambchop. If you know nothing about the sweet-voiced soul singer this has to be the place to start.