Mayfield, Curtis: Curtis / Live! LP
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Recorded in early 1971, Curtis/Live! finds Curtis Mayfield in top form at the intimate Greenwich Village club The Bitter End. With veterans from Chicago’s soul and jazz scene, Mayfield runs through a superb setlist of Impressions classics (“Gypsy Woman,” “People Get Ready”), gems from his first solo LP (“We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue,” “The Makings of You”) and fierce originals that would make their recording debut here (“I Plan To Stay A Believer,” “Stare And Stare,” and “Stone Junkie”). As author Lloyd Sachs writes in the liner notes for this vinyl reissue, “All of the songs are lovingly reworked – in some cases stretched out and in others, brightened with humor. The band redefines groove via the West African polyrhythms of conga and bongo great Henry Gibson and the intertwined guitars of Mayfield – whose dulcet, vocal-like tone was a revolution in and of itself – and Craig McMullen. The group creates excitement through tension and release, through building up and letting go.” Curtis/Live! was originally issued on Mayfield’s own Curtom label just before his second studio album, 1971’s Roots, and his influential Super Fly soundtrack. While the singer would continue to establish himself as one of the key voices of his generation, the powerful anthems and in-the-pocket perfection on this double-LP live set demonstrate how brilliant Curtis truly was – a master class in restraint and fearless expression.