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Widely regarded as one of Soul's finest, Curtis Mayfield first tasted success in The Impressions before embarking on a solo career. With hits such as Superfly, Hard Times and Baby It's you amongst others he was praised for his songwriting and silky smooth voice. Sadly tragedy struck his life in August of 1990 when he an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York. He was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him. In his remaining years he was largely a recluse apart from a few appearances for award ceremonies. In 1998 things got worse and he had to have his right leg amputated due to complications with his Diabetes. But the year before that he released one last studio album. "New World Order". Just two years later he died
**New World Order**
This album was recorded by Mayfield lying on his back because that was the only way he could get enough air into his lungs to sing. He sang each line one at a time and the album was put together. New World Order features all new songs apart from three re-workings of his own "We The People who are darker than Blue", "It was love that we needed and "The Girl I find stays on my mind". The other tracks were constructed between 95-97 by Curtis Mayfield singing lyrics to his family and staff who wrote them down.
1.)"New World Order"
3.)"Back to Living Again"
4.)"No One Knows About a Good Thing (You Don't Have to Cry)"
5.)"Just a Little Bit of Love"
6.)"We People Who are Darker than Blue"
7.)"I Believe in You"
8.)"Here But I'm Gone"
9.)"It Was Love That We Needed"
10.)"The Got Dang Song"
11.)"The Girl I Find Stays On My Mind"
12.)"Let's Not Forget"
13.)"Oh So Beautiful"
1.) New World Order
This is an unmistakable slice of Curtis Mayfield soul. His remarkable light tone is there despite his clear ailments. This track is about wanting a better, more just world. This title track really pulls you in to the album with the seductive falsetto still dripping with emotion and the gorgeous backing. Gone is Curtis on the guitar but the guitar in place is very reminiscent of that great emotive playing of Mayfield.
2.) Oh So Beautiful
This track opens with some great guitar work and a funky beat. From the guitar work on the opening two tracks it seems that it was of great importance to get a Guitarist who had the same style as Curtis and with Pat "Sleepy" Brown. Mavis Staples appears on this track with some great vocals. The beat is heavier than the opener but this is still smooth soul at it's best.
3.) "Back to Living Again"
This track opens with a gentle beat and some great keyboard work, This track features another great female Soul star in Aretha Franklin. This is a really lovely ballad which is laid back and has that great summery feel that some of the best songs have. This track is about wanting people to get back to living their life again with friends and family. Brilliant track.
4.) "No One Knows about a Good Thing"
This is an incredible track which just has such an emotive feel. His voice is absolutely remarkable anyway but given how he was on this record it's truly extraordinary. This is a beatiful track which features Tanya Smith with the female part. On this track Curtis talks to a female friend who has been hurt in a relationship and telling her that he's there for her and things will get better. This is a breathtakingly good track.
5.) "Just a little bit of love"
Changing things completely from the previous track this is a good bit of catchy soul/funk with some great strings in the background. Curtis' voice is beautifully smooth and mellow which works incredibly well with the contrast of the beat. The backing vocals are superb and this is a very flowing track about how there should be more love in the world. Brilliant track with a superb flow. This even features a Rap. Yes a rap on a Curtis Mayfield track!!!!
6.) "We the people who are darker than Blue"
I love the original which featured on his 1970 album "Curtis" This is one of the greatest race issue songs of all time. I absolutely adore the sweet talkbox on this track about equality, This is an absolutely brilliant track which has a superb message about all races living together in Harmony. If only that happened what a great place it would be.
7.) "I Believe in You"
Curtis' falsetto is not as well used as on other tracks on the album, instead he shows he still had the deeper vocal tone, he is joined on this track by Sandra St Victor who provides great vocals on this jazzy soul track about Believing in someone. This has a great trumpet solo as well as some great Saxophone in the background.
8.) "Here But I'm Gone"
I first heard this track when Eric Clapton performed it at Hard Rock Calling in 2008. It had that kind of Curtis Mayfield feel and sure enough it was done for this album. This is a phenomenal track which shows Curtis' mood at the time of recording, Knowing he probably had not got much time left. This is an extraordinary track which is seriously up there with anything he ever recorded in his career. Simply breathtaking.
9.) "It was love that we needed"
This is a fabulous recording of the 1979 track which had never been recorded. This track is a funky mid tempo ballad about Love. It has a great beat and some great funky hooks with some superb backing vocals from Shirley Murdock. Another very flowing track which is another fine song on this album.
10.) "The Got' Dang Song"
This is a lovely flowing track with some great Curtis like wah wah guitar and some great hooks as well as some great backing vocals from "The Blow Jays". This track shows the range of Curtis Mayfield with a flowing up tempo track surrounded by some fine ballads. This has a superbly catchy flow.
11.) "The Girl I find stays on my mind"
This is a lovely reworking of this 1969 track. His beautiful falsetto is there in all it's glory amongst beautiful piano, gentle bass guitar and some great background sounds. This is a wonderful ballad which is so laid back that it is deeply affecting. This track is about the effect of finding someone you care so much about.
12.) "Let's not forget"
This track is another flowing ballad, A Simple beat is the backing for Curtis' dripping falsetto on this beautiful track about having faith in yourself that you can do something if you put your mind to it. How does he sing like that when he is almost completely paralysed. Extraordinary. This is a brilliant track with great backing vocals from Diamond.
13.) "Oh So Beautiful"
This reminds me a little of the material he recorded in the 1980's which was slightly away from his 70's soul, This is another track where his vocal is deeper than his dripping falsetto, This track features a great collaboration from "The Blow Jays" again. This is the final track on the album and closes it well.
If this was one of his earlier albums then the quality would back up his status as one of the greatest Soul artists of all time. That he was paralysed from the neck down while recording this album it is all the more extraordinary. It immediately brought a "How the **** does he sing like that when the only way he could record the album was to lie on his back as that was the only way he could get enough air into his lungs. This is an extraordinary album from a Soul Genius. You may not even know that this was even released but now you do I hope you go and check this out as it is absolutely brilliant. He would be 67 years old now and given BB King is still going strong well into his 80's just thing what Curtis Mayfield could be doing now.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 New World Order
2 Oh So Beautiful
3 Let's Not Forget
4 Girl I Find Stays On My Mind
5 Got Dang Song
6 It Was Love That We Needed
7 No One Knows About A Good Thing (You Don't Have To
8 Just A Little Bit Of Love
9 We People Who Are Darker Than Blue
10 Here But I'm Gone
11 I Believe In You
12 Back To Living Again
13 Ms Martha