Friday, November 29, 2013

69 Superfly (1972) Curtis Mayfield

  1. Little Child Runnin' Wild
  2. Pusherman
  3. Freddie's Dead
  4. Junkie Chase 
  5. Give Me Your Love (Love Song)
  6. Eddie You Should Know Better
  7. No Thing on Me (Cocaine Song)
  8. Think 
  9. Superfly

Superfly is a fondly remembered soundtrack to a long forgotten film. Superfly didn't perform exceptionally well at the box office but its accompanying soundtrack became one of Curtis Mayfield's biggest selling albums and cemented his reputation as a massive funk and soul talent and a spokesman for his generation.

Superfly the movie is a Blaxploitation movie about drug dealers trying to get rich by selling drugs, which is what drug dealers do. They also rip each other off and kill people and generally behave like chaps who aren't really all that nice. When it was released, Superfly was met with a lot of criticism from people who weren't entirely comfortable with the idea of drug dealers being lauded and glorified as heroes despite selling drugs to people. Unlike a lot of other movies of the genre, Superfly refused to placate audiences by killing everyone at the end. Other Blaxploitation pictures which featured drug dealers showed them living the high life and making money and enjoying the company of beautiful women but getting gunned down at the end to prove that crime didn't pay. The hero of Superfly drives off wealthy at the end of the movie which does rather send the message that dealing drugs is a good way to make some ready cash.

While the film may have been happy to glorify drug dealers, Mayfield was less enthusiastic. The soundtrack is much more cautionary and takes a different tone to the movie.

"The aim of his role
Was to move a lot of blow
Ask him his dream
What does it mean? He wouldn't know
Can't be like the rest
Is the most he'll confess
But the time's running out
And there's no happiness"

Whether intentionally or not the sombre tones were a wise move on Mayfield's part and gave the album a degree of acceptance that the film couldn't enjoy.

But there's more to enjoy on Superfly than just a public service announcement about the perils of drug dealing. Mayfield was a genuine talent and one of the justified superstars of the funk and soul genre. He wrote all everything on the album, produced it all as well and played guitars. He wasn't just a voice and face parachuted into someone else's vision. He was the guy.

The result is an album that's truly funky and extremely soulful but is also full of actual songs. Many albums of the era had a bass groove and a soulful feel but lacked the tunes to back them up. They had mood and feeling but no songwriting talent behind them. Mayfield wrote great songs that transfer to other genres and can be covered by other artists.

Possibly the one downside of Superfly are Mayfield's vocals. He's an incredibly talented singer and has a beautiful voice but his high end tones need a bass voice to give it some counterpoint and balance. Superfly is great but it would have been even better in the hands of someone like The Temptations who would have been able to give every track a degree of power and authority that Mayfield on his own lacked.

Superfly is a milestone in the Funk Soul genre and worth checking out if it's never been past your ears before. It's addictive. Like a drug. Except drugs are bad. And this isn't.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "this is the music we're listening to when we're alone with our lovers and the hearts start pounding"

-"Oh darling put Freddies Dead on again to get me in the mood so we can make love to a tune called Junkies Chase".

So is this super and fly or just a massive pest ruining your picnic? Let me know below.

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