Saturday, 2 June 2018
Curtis Mayfield - There's No Place Like America Today (1975)
Released May 1975
Recorded at Curtom Studios, Chicago
One of the great, underrated “social comment” albums of the 70s. It probably doesn’t have as clearly delineated a social message as say earlier albums like “Curtis” and “Roots” but the songs are all mature, thoughtful compositions and observations on contemporary urban society are never far away, particularly in the gun violence of the funky opener, “Billy Jack”, or the poverty an unfair taxation of “When Seasons Change”. “Hard Times”, with its hypnotic, slow burning funk backing, and the mellifluous “Blue Monday People” are similar in approach and conviction. There is a case for “Hard Times” being one of Mayfield’s finest ever tracks.
The single release, the soulful “So In Love” lifts the sombre, reflective mood a little. Mayfield’s beautiful falsetto soars over a crystal clear backing. Indeed, the sound on this album is outstanding throughout. Sharp, clear cymbals, rich, rumbling bass and undistorted horns. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on “So In Love”.
The spiritual is never far from Mayfield’s thinking, and the gospelly “Jesus” provides this. Again, some great cymbal work on this and some inspiring guitar parts too. Lovely bass line as the song builds up half way through.
Just seven tracks on this album, the tracks are all substantial and one is not left feeling hard done by. An under appreciated piece of work.