Sunday, January 30, 2011
People Get Ready - The Impressions
ABC Paramount ABC 505
I think Curtis Mayfield is one of the more underrated figures in rock history. Of course the Impressions had plenty of commercial success and Mayfield scored fame and fortune with his work on "Superfly," but this man was one of the finest songwriters of his generation and produced consistently good work for quite a long time. He had a unique style that is instantly recognizable and the sound he achieved with Sam Gooden and Fred Cash was one of the most appealing vocal sounds to come out of the 1960s. I guess most casual fans could get by with just a compilation record since most of Mayfield's best songs were singles, as is the case on this album with "Woman's Got Soul," "You Must Believe Me," and "People Get Ready." The latter in particular is one of the best songs Mayfield ever wrote. I'm not the least bit religious, but when I listen to it I can almost feel the spirit. Although it is fundamentally a religious song, it is frequently associated with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s which is basically how I respond to it. It is a very moving song, beautifully sung. The rest of the songs (all written by Mayfield) are certainly better than filler though and are impeccably crafted and performed. I particularly like the powerful "Emotions," the swinging "We're In Love," the calypso flavored "Can't Work No Longer," and the uplifting "Get Up and Move." So yes you may just need a comp, but this is a very fine album on its own. It is an always engaging record that is well worth picking up if you find a copy. Recommended to Motown fans who prefer Smokey Robinson over Diana Ross.