Despite his fame, I don’t know Cutis Mayfield’s music very well and I don’t know the Impressions at all. I have only ever heard Mayfield’s most famous record and this is my first ever Impressions record. The little I know of Mayfield is that his music is slicker than I like my soul.
In some ways he sort of seems like the spiritual heir to Sam Cooke – he writes both political and romantic songs and sets them to sophisticated, polished arrangements. This record lacks Cooke’s very strong blues background, but that’s understandable given the intervening years.
I appreciate the political songs more than the romantic ones, which isn’t really a surprise. As with all social or polished political music, I find it incongruous, but I appreciate the sentiment and Mayfield definitely has a way with words.
Musically this is absolutely not my kind of soul, as it is polished within an inch of its life, with the arrangements reminding me of less jazz-indebted Burt Bacharach, or a more soulful version of any number of his contemporaries. They’re slick, is what I’m saying.
But despite that I think Mayfield’s songs are strong enough to endure the weight of the arrangements. Also, the Impressions are compelling performers even if I don’t particularly like this style of soul. (As an aside, the other two guys sure don’t do much, do they? That can’t have been a nice experience for them.)
Not knowing their catalogue, I don’t know where this sits, but it’s good enough for what it is.
7/10 I guess
All tracks composed by Curtis Mayfield.
- “The Young Mods’ Forgotten Story” – 2:00
- “Choice of Colors” – 3:15
- “The Girl I Find” – 2:37
- “Wherever You Leadeth Me” – 2:32
- “My Deceiving Heart” – 2:49
- “Seven Years” – 2:21
- “Love’s Miracle” – 2:24
- “Jealous Man” – 2:34
- “Soulful Love” – 2:30
- “Mighty Mighty (Spade & Whitey)” – 2:21
- Curtis Mayfield: vocals, producer
- Sam Gooden: bass vocals
- Fred Cash: tenor vocals
- D.Hathaway: arrangements
- J.Pate: arrangements