A fine Impressions' collection, these tracks are the essence of their ABC recordings. Included are a few early dazzlers when Arthur and Richard Brooks blew harmony with Curtis Mayfield, Sam Gooden, and Fred Cash: the post-Jerry Butler Impressions. Check the bass on the haunting "Gypsy Woman," and the heartwarming "Grow Closer Together," both products of the five-man Impressions. Mayfield's light expressive falsetto excels on these crafty, well-arranged sagas. "Little Young Lover," has a bottom-heavy beat topped by smooth harmonies. "Minstrel and Queen" matches "Gypsy Woman"'s mystique and was a favorite of schoolyard vocalists. A prolific songwriter, Mayfield didn't write weak songs, and was equally proficient on mid-tempo tunes, ballads, and upbeat songs. The group's early tunes gained them a die-hard following but "It's All Right" showed an knack for crossover; this finger-snapper exploded on R&B stations and received considerable play on pop stations. "Talking About My Baby" kept the momentum flowing, but they dug a permanent spot in listener's hearts with "I'm So Proud," one of R&B's prettiest ballads; as touching as the Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You," the Penguins' "Earth Angel," and the Miracles' "Ooh Baby, Baby."
In the mid-'60s, Mayfield revealed his strong social consciousness by putting his feelings on vinyl. In doing so he showed he could make a difference via his uplifting, spirited songs promoting pride and self-respect. African-Americans in the '60s may not have been exposed to powerful, motivating books like Psychocybernatics or Think and Grow Rich, but they had "People Get Ready," "We're a Winner," "We're Rolling On," "Amen," "Meeting Over Yonder," and "Keep On Pushing." The Impressions never forsook ballads and continued to crank teary lamenters like "I've Been Trying," "I Loved and I Lost," "I Can't Stay Away from You" (co-led by Fred Cash), "I Made a Mistake," and "Just One Kiss from You." All are included on this excellent collection.