Curtis Mayfield

People Get Ready: The Curtis Mayfield Story

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Like most large box sets, this three-CD, 51-song production is too extensive for the casual fan and sacrifices consistency in an attempt to span an entire career. The focus is on Mayfield's solo work; much of the first disc is devoted to his most popular work with the Impressions, but the remainder of the compilation surveys his solo output, from 1970 to 1990. The Impressions tracks are uniformly excellent, but the Mayfield-only cuts are more problematic. The best of these -- the Superfly highlights, of course, and early-'70s singles like "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going to Go" and "Beautiful Brother of Mine" -- are as good as anything he ever did. But even in the early '70s, he was erratic, and after Superfly (his career summit), nothing he did smacked of brilliance. Some of the post-Superfly stuff is OK, but considering that this period takes up half of disc two and all of disc three, it means you're in for a pretty swift downhill slide over the last half of the box. Mayfield never lost his vocal abilities, or his production skills, but after the late '70s his material was simply unimpressive, getting into pedestrian dance music and romantic urban contemporary. For a Mayfield retrospective, you're much better off with MCA's two-disc Anthology, which goes into the Impressions period with much greater depth, and includes the cream of his '70s solo recordings.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:21
2 2:49
3 2:50
4 2:33
5 3:29
6 2:38
7 2:18
8 2:24
9 3:16
10 2:54
11 2:49
12 3:18
13 3:44
14 7:51
15 8:54
16 6:03
17 3:53
18 6:58
19 7:47
blue highlight denotes track pick