When ‘60s soul acts like The Four Tops and The Temptations were tearing up the charts they relied on great songwriting teams such as Holland/Holland/Dozier and Whitfield/Strong to supply them with a steady string of hits. On the other hand, The Impressions never had to journey outside of their camp to ensure that the hits kept coming; after all, they had Curtis Mayfield. Behind a score of superlative, Mayfield-penned R&B songs The Impressions became an institution in soul music.
The 20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection celebrates the timeless music of The Impressions (Mayfield, Fred Cash and Sam Gooden) as it showcases nine of their biggest hits, barely scratching the surface of their uniquely impressive body of work. With their high-pitched harmonies and Mayfield’s soft, compelling voice, the trio influenced the vocal style of many black groups in the mid-‘60s with laid-back classics like “Gypsy Woman,” “It’s All Right,” “I’m So Proud” and “Woman’s Got Soul.” Endearing tunes like “Keep on Pushing,” “We’re a Winner” and the anthemic “People Get Ready” were songs of inspiration that heralded the dawning civil rights movement.
When Mayfield provided the score for the movie Superfly, he provided himself the best-selling record of his career and ensured that a mediocre film would be remembered long after its’ natural-life was exhausted. This disc also contains Mayfield’s two biggest singles from the Superfly soundtrack in “Freddie’s Dead” and the title track.
Although Curtis Mayfield died in 1997 at the age of 57, he will long be remembered as musical pioneer who influenced countless acts over the course of 40 years. Few people were able to analyze the contemporary ills of society as Mayfield did with humanity and compassion. It is safe to say that his legacy will remain intact. If you doubt his importance then consider this: From January to September 2000 there will be no less than 11 tribute, best-of and anthology discs released to honor the man and his music both with The Impressions and as an innovative solo artist.
// Notes from the Road
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