This week I’m reviewing the Super Fly soundtrack which was picked out by a co-worker for the first Readers Pick Review. Super Fly soundtrack has the distinction of making more money than the film.
Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: Super Fly
Genre: Soul, Soundtrack
Worth Your Time? So good it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the movie or not.
Twitter Review: It’s not only a great movie soundtrack, it’s a great soundtrack for life. Headphones and Super Fly will have you walking around feeling 20% cooler.
Top 3 Tracks:
Things to Look For:
- Composition. Curtis Mayfield wrote an absolutely gorgeous funk filled soundtrack. The way instruments play off each other and work together throughout the 9 tracks is phenomenal. The way Little Child Runnin’ Wild crescendos into pounding orchestra hits that transitions to strings and a minimalist bassline and finally ends with just the strings as they fade out is just so beautiful. There’s another part that I love in Junkie Chase where the bright horn sections plays off of the piano chords. It helps to create the sense of urgency felt throughout the track. Think, which I picked as my second favorite track, is an instrumental that easily won me over with its bewitching laid back arrangement. Johnny Pate was the orchestra/arranger for this soundtrack and deserves to be recognized for his work on the album carrying out Mayfield’s directions.
- Henry Gibson. The percussion in Pusherman is just awesome. It is the grease in the machine that enhances the performance of all of the other instruments. Henry Gibson played the rototoms on the track and did an amazing job but that shouldn’t be a surprise since Mr. Gibson has appeared on about 1200 albums.
- Saxamaphooooone. Curtis Mayfield played many instruments including saxaphone so it might be him playing tenor sax but I can’t really find any reference to who played sax throughout the album. Regardless, the saxophone sprinkled throughout several tracks is incredibly well done as it takes lead during the song or plays off of the other instruments. I loved every moment.
- Why Curtis, of course. Mayfield’s silky smooth falsetto delivery is definitely one of if not the highlight of the soundtrack. If anybody else sang these songs, I don’t think it would be so highly regarded. His singing in No Thing on Me (Cocaine Song) delivers a sense of optimism and tragedy juxtaposed on top of each other.
Low Points: This is such an incredible album. Complaining about this album is like trying to take issue with Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. If there’s anything to take issue with the album is that the movie Super Fly comes nowhere close to the level of excellence that the soundtrack achieved. Not that I thought the movie was bad or anything, but they just aren’t on the same level. The music is just so good it seems out of place.
Anything Else: After listening to this album for the first time, it brought an idea into my head. And that is the evolution of the drug dealer song. I don’t know if Pusherman is the grand-daddy of all drug dealer songs but I like to think it was an inspiration for later music such as Master P’s Mr. Ice Cream Man and Bone Thugs N Harmony’s 1st of da Month.
Also, Super Fly actually had two sequels. Super Fly T.N.T. in 1973 and The Return of Super Fly in 1990. Why do I mention this? Because of this jewel of early 90s awesomeness:
Superfly 1990 by Ice-T featuring Curtis Mayfield and can’t nobody make a song (or TV show) awesome like Ice-T.
Not everything about 1990 is awesome though. In 1990, an accident at a concert caused Curtis Mayfield to spend the last 10 years of his life paralyzed from the neck down until he died from complications due to diabetes. During this time he was able to still put out music. He recorded the vocals for his last album, New World Order, line by line as he only had enough breath to do one line at a time from his bed. Reading this made me really sad. It didn’t seem fair that a man who created such beautiful music for the world and inspired an entire generation during the civil rights movement would end up getting screwed over so badly by life.