Various Artists

Curtom Superpeople II

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Owned and operated by the legendary Curtis Mayfield, the Curtom label set the pace for Chicago soul during the early 1970s. Although in its infancy, the label's lush uptown soul drew its inspiration from the gorgeous gospel-influenced music Mayfield created with the legendary Impressions, his brilliant soundtrack to the blaxploitation classic Superfly changed everything -- and in an about-face, the rest of the Curtom roster proved itself equally adept at scorching, street-smart funk, delivering harder-edged grooves and more incendiary social commentary with each successive release. The sequel to Curtom Superpeople is another excellent chapter in the British reissue label Charly's continuing resuscitation of the Curtom back catalog, assembling 16 of the company's most propulsive and fiery cuts, many of them making their CD debut -- it's uniformly superb, with song after song documenting funk at its most nuanced and sophisticated. Boasting previously-unreleased instrumental readings of the Mayfield gems "Freddie's Dead" and "Check Out Your Mind," the disc is also notable for Rasputin's Stash's great "The Devil Made Me Do It," the Bobby Franklin Insanity's "Our Theme" and Jesse Anderson's "Mighty Mighty."