For many of us, Curtis Mayfield (1942-1999) was a quintessential 1970’s artist, which was not in the least due to the hit soundtrack for the film, “Superfly.” However, the history of Mayfield’s singing and composing goes back much further. In fact, many of the songs he popularized while with “The Impressions,” were used as anthems during the Civil Rights movement.
In “Curtis Mayfield: Live at Montreux,” another DVD in the excellent series under the Eagle Vision label, Mayfield performs a 64-minute set with an excellent band. This set consists of songs including “Freddy’s Dead” and “Pusher Man” from “Superfly,” as well as “People Get Ready,” “Move on Up,” and “We’ve Only Just Begun,” the mega-hit for “The Carpenters.”
Of course, Mayfield sang in his signature high falsetto while strumming a guitar; however, for me the real stars of this concert were the members of his band, who began the set playing for four to five minutes, before Mayfield joined them onstage. The Soul and R&B/Funk sounds that they provided were the perfect backdrop for Mayfield’s vocals. His guitar playing wasn’t a strong presence in the overall sonic scheme, which was driven by the bass, drums, congas and bongos, with the keyboards providing the melody. This was truly a stellar group!
As usual for this DVD series, the event was well-captured on video and also featured great sound. This was another fine if brief installment in this great series.