Friday, February 18, 2005
A bit of Curtis for your weekend with a side helping of Patti Jo
Curtis Mayfield - The Underground
Patti Jo - Make Me Believe In You
After Noz's guest post on Soulsides the other day it occurred to me that while I put up some Curtis produced Five Stairsteps I haven't really touched on the man himself.
However, I'm rectifying that today with one funky track by the man himself and another track that has his production stamped all over it.
What can I say about Curtis that hasn't already been said in greater depth by other people far more qualified than me? Renowned for his merging of political commentary with extremely funky music, Curtis Mayfield was one of the great stars of funk during the seventies, probably most famously for his classic soundtrack to Superfly and his funk anthem Move On Up. Like a disturbingly high number of his fellow soul/funk musicians from that period(Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass) he suffered personal tragedy when he was struck by a falling lighting rig at one of his concerts in 1990 and left paralysed. He passed away at the depressingly young age of 57 in 1999. You can read his full biography here.
The first song I've got up here today, The Underground, is taken from Mayfield's classic 1971 album Roots. I've always loved the textures of this song, with the layered voices over the start and Curtis putting forward his manifesto before the funk groove starts up around 45 seconds in. From then on the riff keeps the track rolling along while Curtis puts his sweet vocals over the top and an excellent backing vocal.
The second song is another producer's credit for Mayfield, Patti Jo's Make Me Believe In You. I've put up the 7" version rather than the more famous 12" disco version as I think it more ably displays Curtis's signature production. Listen to the strings and riff on this and it could have been taken directly off the Superfly album. Patti delivers great vocals over the top as well, surprisingly mature for an artist who was apparently 16 when this was recorded.
You can get Curtis's Roots at a stupidly cheap price HERE.