CURTIS MAYFIELD — Superfly (review)

CURTIS MAYFIELD — Superfly album cover Album · 1972 · Jazz Related Soundtracks Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
dreadpirateroberts
Certainly a masterpiece of Jazz Related RnB.

Curtis unveils an almost grimy funk on the soundtrack to 'Superfly' and provides a giant hit as he does so, the album shooting to number one across multiple charts in 1972. Often compared to another seminal 'protest' album from the 1970s, in Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On,' 'Superfly' remains just as potent, even if it is not delivered in quite the same honeyed tones.

Lyrically (and typically), Curtis takes a more disapproving approach to the subjects of poverty, drugs and urban life, than does the blaxploitation film itself, but these lyrics compliment the music beautifully and are as insightful and clear as ever. It's one of his obvious strengths - direct, memorable and sincere.

The songwriting is consistently top-notch too, not just on brilliant singles 'Freddie's Dead' or 'Superfly' but on the remaining tracks, from the short instrumental 'Junkie Chase' or 'Give me your Love' with its sparse vocal, to other album tracks like opener 'Little Child Runnin' Wild' with its greasy lead guitar. ‘Pusherman’ is another stand out. Employing an almost-rap delivery and repetitive guitar work, it’s part of a run of three excellent songs that mix his usual funk and orchestration. As with many Mayfield albums, the string arrangements are just as prominent as the horns and rhythm section, and never more beautiful than on 'Freddie's' chorus. In fact, it's no stretch for me to call it one of Curtis' all-time greatest songs, from a career than was well over ten years in at the time of the soundtrack's release.

If there is a slight dip in the quality of the album it’s supplied by 'No Thing on Me (The Cocaine Song).' It does not detract from the album – it merely represents a moment that cannot match the heights reached by the rest of the soundtrack.

Expect horns, strings and a funky rhythm, along with Curtis' trademark lyrical approach and falsetto. Furthermore, expect one of his best albums hands down.
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