I’m groovin’ and movin’ through this current Facilitator’s Guide with gusto, largely because of the soulfully funky theme I’ve established today. Again, funk and soul seem to lend themselves well to my Monday creativity, so I’m rolling with it with another classic Curtis Mayfield album, ‘Roots‘.
Released in 1971 after just having received critical praise from a variety of publications for his debut released (see previous post), this album is regarded as not just one of Mayfield’s best works but also as a classic release of the ’70s soul era. The album became a commercial success as well, hitting the #6 slot on Billboard‘s Top R&B Albums chart.
‘Roots‘ is Curtis’ visionary album, a landmark creation every bit as compelling and far-reaching in its musical and extra-musical goals as Marvin Gaye’s contemporary ‘What’s Goin’ On‘.
The oOening on the hit ‘Get Down‘, the album soars on some of the sweetest and most eloquent – yet driving – soul sounds heard up to that time. Mayfield’s growing musical ambitions, first manifested on the ‘Curtis‘ album, and his more sophisticated political sensibilities, are pulled together here in a new, richer studio language, embodied in extended funky song structures (‘Underground‘), idealistic yet lyrically dazzling anthems (‘We Got to Have Peace‘, ‘Keep On Keeping On‘, and, best of all, the soaring ‘Beautiful Brother of Mine‘), and impassioned blues (‘Now You’re Gone‘).
The music is even bolder than the material on it’s predecessor, with Mayfield expanding his instrumental range to the level of a veritable soul orchestra; and the recording is better realized, as Mayfield, with that album and a tour behind him, shows a degree of confidence that only a handful of soul artists of this era could have mustered.