Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#91 Curtis Mayfield-Superfly


Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: Superfly
Label: Sequel
Year: 1972

Curtis Mayfield's 1972 album, his final masterpiece in a string that began his solo career, is the soundtrack to the film of the same name. While many other Blaxploitation soundtracks have their own strengths and feature many instrumental tracks (Shaft and Trouble Man) this album stands out in that it's much more song-structured. While it isn't the only soundtrack to focus more on pop songs than instrumentals, it remains in a class of its own for the unbelievable songs all over the album.
Unlike a lot of the music/culture/films of blaxploitation, Superfly paints the scenarios in a negative light. Curtis always has been a moralist, but always makes sure not to preach. Think about his earlier career with "Don't Worry, If there's A Hell Below" and "People Get Ready," he's always talking about the everyman.
"Pusherman" has one of the funkiest intros ever, as does the title track, which was sampled by Beastie Boys for Paul's Boutique.
Another strength of the album is it's even more subdued in tone than Roots. Whereas his first album was all bright and shiny horns and upbeat sounds, Roots and Superfly are much more toned down, making sparing use of horns and high-end, really allowing the bass and percussion to drive everything.
I'd also like to say that "No Thing On Me (Cocaine Song)" might be one of my all-time favorite tracks. After a minute-or-so-long spoken word intro, the song really gets groovy, with an amazing trumpet sound throughout.
Curtis Mayfield is one of the greatest musical figures of pop history, and this album is frequently seen as his masterpiece. While I don't fully agree with that (he'll make another appearance on this list), Superfly is an amazing record.

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