Mayfield, Curtis - Curtis - New LP
Essential debut solo album from Mayfield after his work with the Impressions, written, published and produced by Curtis, issued on this own Curtom label, featuring his talents as singer, songwriter and guitarist, prying open Pandora's box with a switchblade knife to give us a long look at realities of life, full of pain and full of hope. This one cuts deep into the heart of the listener, and deep into the heart of America.
(Marvin Gaye had to be listening to this one as he was forming both What's Going On and Let's Get it On.)
Mayfield had already permanently changed the face of the music with his contributions to the Impressions, joining the group as a young teenager in the 1950s, staying with them through the 1960s, and writing or co-writing so many timeless and timely classics, perhaps not as proficient as Holland-Dozier-Holland, but probably as influential, in other words likely as influential as any songwriter that walked the earth, clearly having a huge influence on all the great music that rose up from black communities across the country (and world) in the wake of his music that came with this 1970 solo album as well his music before and after.
The 12” album format had been around for two decades, but much of the soul music of the 1960s had continued the original idea of “the album” established with the 78 RPM 10” album—a collection of short singles housed in an album. the seminal black indie label Motown that had followed the singles-focus of all the other black-owned labels, but as the hit machine in the basement in Detroit was splintering and transitioning to California, the label saw Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Norman Whitfield making some of the greatest music of all time utilizing the album format to its full potential. All this soul music of the early 1970s came from a whirlwind of cross pollination, but this 1970 Curtis LP, with its focus on great songs linked together in an album, and its focus on the power of love and honesty and dealing with problems directly as part of communities of all sizes—interpersonal, local, global and universal—certainly helped inspire and influence all that beautiful meaning and meaningful beauty that sprung up in the early 1970s and influenced the world forever. — winch (green noise)
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- Arranged By – Gary Slabo, Riley Hampton
- Contractor – Marvin Heiman
- Engineer – R.J. Anfinson, Tom Flye
- Engineer [Assistant] – Danny Turbeville
- Lacquer Cut By – dh
- Musician – Robert Lewis, Clifford Davis, Donald Simmons, Elliot Golub, Gary Slabo, Harold Klatz, Harold Dessent, Harold Lepp, Henry Gibson, John Howell, John Ross, Leonard Druss, Loren Binford, Patrick Ferreri, Philip Upchurch, Richard Single, Robert Sims, Ronald Kolber, Rudolph Stauber, Sam Heiman, Sol Bobrob
- Photography By, Design – Bob Cato
- Producer, Published, and Written-By – Curtis Mayfield
"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 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