Power to the people....
Released May 1974
By 1974, you knew what you were going to get from Curtis Mayfield - six or seven tracks on an album, a mixture of orchestrated sweet soul and wah-wah guitar, horn-driven urban funk. The social message was launched in 1970 and it is still strongly there. Unfortunately, the fact that seven similar albums were released between 1970 and 1975 tends to dilute the effect somewhat and some of these albums have ended up slightly overlooked, which is a bit of a pity, as they are all impressive.
This one is a bit more soulful and laid-back and the consciousness is ever so slightly downplayed in favour of a more romantic approach.
1. Ain't Got Time
2. Sweet Exorcist
3. To Be Invisible
4. Power To The People
5. Kung Fu
7. Make Me Believe In You
"Ain't Got Time" is a superb, deep, funky opener. Full of atmosphere, wah-wah, solid drums and Curtis's sweet vocal dishing out the wise advice. There is a Temptations feel to the track in many ways. Mayfield's voice is just a little deeper than on some of his songs, and it lends the song more gravitas. "Sweet Exorcist" starts as a lush soul number before it morphs into a deep, heavy funk chug on its chorus.
"To Be Invisible" is a sensitive, slow burning sweet soul number, one of Mayfield's smoothest numbers for quite a while. As with all his songs, a deep wisdom underpins the lyrics, even on the love songs. Curtis was a serious, deep-thinking man.
"Power To The People" has a slight Staple Singers gospel-influenced feel to it. The interplay between the horns, drums and Mayfield's voice is instinctively effortless. "Kung Fu" is a delicious slice of appetising, tasty funk in the "Superfly" style. "Suffer" is a soul ballad in the O'Jays/Harold Melvin style. There is not much that can be said to analyse material like this, other than it sounds great, facile as that sounds. If you like soul music you will like it, simple as that. "Make Me Believe In You" sees the sublime funk return on another infectious groove.
As I said at the beginning, you know what you're going to get by now. If you like it, these are good albums, all of them, in their own right. You an't go wrong with any of them. If you just want to dabble in Curtis Mayfield, then "Superfly" and "Roots" would be good places to start.