Curtis Mayfield

Gospel [Rhino]

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This enjoyable (yet somewhat questionable) compilation gathers together many of the religious songs that Curtis Mayfield penned and performed, both with the Impressions in the '60s and as a solo artist in the '70s. As a songwriter, Mayfield was astounding. In addition to the well-known lyrics of "Amen" and "People Get Ready," there are several songs that are open to interpretation; while Mayfield may have been addressing God in "You Ought to Be in Heaven" and "When We're Alone," they work equally well as conventional love songs. The older material, performed with the Impressions, doesn't sound dated in the least. Some of the later songs, however, are prone to excesses not uncommon in '70s music (excessive overdubbing, and the obligatory string section.) One may wonder why Rhino would release this compilation of readily available material (excluding one unnecessary unreleased live track), but it is lively, enjoyable and in some cases essential music. (No Mayfield collection is complete without "People Get Ready," but newcomers will be better served in purchasing one of his many best-of compilations.)

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