If you were an urban minority in the ‘60s and/or ‘70s, it would have been impossible to ignore the importance of Curtis Mayfield, but if you were a white suburbanite, it’s very possible that never heard much other than his hits from the “Superfly” soundtrack.
Undeniably an excellent album, it cannot convey the vast reach of Mayfield’s talents, and his influence on culture. Mayfield was among the first pop artists to use his talents as the means for commentary about social injustice, which unfortunately provides an explanation for the imbalance in his acknowledged recognition as a figurehead in American music culture.
Way before “Superfly”, Mayfield wrote hit songs for the Impressions, most of which skyrocketed on the ‘soul’ charts but performed fair to middling on the American pop charts.This early era of his career would have been enough to assure his importance to urban soul music, but it was his solo career that started to expand his reputation, even while he ramped up the socio-political aspect of his work. Mayfield was a thinker who made the listener think as hard as he did, and in retrospect, I believe that he made a difference in many people’s assumptions about race relations.
Featured tracks include:
Don’t Worry, If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go
The Other Side of Town
The Makings of You
We the People Who Are Darker than Blue
Move On Up
Miss Black America
Wild and Free
Give It Up
September 1970 - Billboard Charted #19 Pop and #1 R&B