Curtis Mayfield

This is a grower, a tasteful, impeccably played and produced soul/funk delight. It didn't grab me straight away - I thought it was a bit too polite. In this respect it reminds me of the classic Steely Dan albums such as The Royal Scam, Katy Lied, or Gaucho, all of which I was non-committal about on the first few listens. Eventually, the sheer quality of the musicianship and melodies sunk in, just as it has with Roots.

However, it still doesn't really do it for me, even though I like it. I think this might be partly to do with Curtis Mayfield's voice, which is light and pleasant, but lacking the kind of emotional phrasing that Stevie Wonder has made his own (say, on "Living In The City") or the basso growl of Issac Hayes. Mayfield just doesn't put the songs across with the same force, and so the tracks are in danger of being background music.

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