Back to the World, the first album Curtis Mayfield recorded and released after hitting number one with the intense inner-city vignette Superfly, returned him to a steady balance of optimism for the future and direct social commentary regarding the problems of his people. The lead single, "Future Shock," was inspired by Alvin Toffler's 1970 book of the same name, which warned readers that industrial society was changing so radically that environmental and social problems could be endemic for decades. The track tapped into the same grooves and brass heard on Superfly (perhaps overly so), but said more about the world around ("We got to stop all men, from messing up the land/When won't we understand, this is our last and only chance?"). The title track was very upbeat and positive, as were the refreshing "If I Were Only a Child Again" and "Future Song (Love a Good Woman, Love a Good Man)." With no hit singles to even approach the three high performers from Superfly, though, Back to the World was a distinct disappointment; the music wasn't as powerful as fans were expecting, and though the songs were up to Mayfield's usual high standards, there were many similarities (musically and thematically) to material from each of his proper solo albums.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush