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Curtis Mayfield: Superfly (Two-CD Special Edition)

Ian MacDonald, Uncut, September 1998

ORIGINALLY RELEASED in 1972, Curtis Mayfield's album of music for one of the most notorious blaxploitation films of the Seventies is typically compassionate, melancholic, and dryly reproachful. In a sleevenote of exemplary intelligence done for Charly's digitally remastered reissue, Greg Tate points out that, while the film played safe by dealing with the then-fashionable "social" drug, cocaine, Mayfield was clearly writing about heroin and the devastating swathe it was already cutting through the black ghettos of America's major cities. Hence any depth that Superfly may claim as a project derives mainly from Mayfield's involvement as a kind of musical conscience – a role he has, in effect, played vis-à-vis soul music and black culture in general over the last 30 years.

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