Various Artists

Curtom Soul Trippin' 2

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After exiting his pioneering soul group the Impressions, in 1970 Curtis Mayfield formed Curtom Records, which alongside labels like Cadet and Brunswick set the pace for Chicago soul during the early '70s. Marrying a mellow, sophisticated production aesthetic with a street-smart but poignant lyrical outlook that raised the bar for social criticism in popular music, Curtom's output anticipated not only the lush arrangements of Philly soul and disco but also the eye-opening urban poetry of hip-hop. The second volume in the Charly series Curtom Soul Trippin' digs even deeper into the label's vaults than its predecessor, assembling 14 tracks that span from hitmakers like Mayfield and Leroy Hutson to virtual unknowns like Rasputin's Stash and Mystique. Yet this music is clearly of a piece, connected by the uncommon beauty and nuance of the grooves and the uncommon intelligence and feeling of the messages. Highlights include Moses Dillard and Tex-Town Display's sublimely funky "Got to Find a Way, Pt. 2," Billy Butler's "The Saga of Sadie Lee," Ed Townsend's "How Could You Do It," Linda Clifford's "March Across This Land," and even a great holiday cut, the Stridells' "I Remember Christmas."

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