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Celebrating a musical visionary

People Get Ready!
People Get Ready!
By Curtis Mayfield

Rhino Records: 1996

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This review first appeared in the May 10, 1996 issue of the North County Times.

These are the hits he's best known for: "Gypsy Woman," "It's All Right," "Freddie's Dead," "Superfly."

But Curtis Mayfield – now semi-retired due to a horrible accident when a lighting tower fell on him during a concert (he has subsequently passed on), breaking his neck and paralyzing him – produced a body of work that transcends the hits.

From his early days with The Impressions performing doo-wop to the hard funk of the early '70s to his Quiet Storm ballads of the late '70s to his last recordings in 1990 shortly before his accident, Mayfield helped chart the course of black popular music.

Songs like "People Get Ready," "Choice of Colors" and 'Beautiful Brother of Mine" (all the way up to 1990's "Homeless," in fact) challenged the status quo, provoked listeners to reconsider the way things were.

Given the incendiary times in which he came to fame, Mayfield's genius was in his ability to couple often-challenging messages to beautiful music, and all without ever preaching; to refuse to compromise while still breaching the often-formidable walls separating American from one another.

All of that and more is here in a new three-disc retrospective from Rhino. The full-color, 60-page booklet details the recording information for the audiophile. Insightful (if occasionally obsequious) paeans to Mayfield remind us of the impact he had on his mostly black audience during a turbulent time.