Curtis Mayfield - Superfly - Review
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critics' view

This classy brand of deeply-grooved orchestral-funk was ideal for the big screen; so effective was the music, that the OST created greater revenues than the film itself! Mayfield was a smart operator – all releases were on Curtom, a label founded by he and his manager, Eddie Thomas, way back in 1968. He was a funk-soul brother leading by example in many ways. He used his power positively, and his socially-conscious lyrics about poverty and drug-abuse must have made a difference for many, de-glamourizing the whole ghetto drug thing, and dealing with the gritty realities of death through misadventure.

Pusherman” is an early highlight, the one song which gave Curtis and his group a cameo role in the movie itself, as they played on stage in the background. Showing a remarkable degree of understanding, Curtis portrays the pusherman as much a victim as he is a villain, with the line “A man of odd circumstance, a victim of ghetto demands.” The sensational “Freddie’s Dead” laments the death of Fat Freddie, a character in the film who is run over by a car: “Everybody's misused him, ripped him up and abused him, another junkie plan, pushing dope for the man” Despite the gritty subject matter, the song was chosen as the album’s lead single and had charted in the U.S. Top 10 before the album was released in July ‘72.

All the best that the LP has to offer appears consecutively on the first side; the dramatic “Junkie Chase” is the third of these and flows with an action-packed 90 seconds which is every bit as evocative as the title suggests. The album spawned two Top 10 hits stateside; album closer “Superfly” is the second of these. It’s crisp and sharp – but doesn’t get to me anywhere near as much as “Freddie’s Dead”. Still, this is a quality album in anyone’s musical language.

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