My album reviews are chosen randomly. I think today’s selection was the perfect convergence for a lot of America’s anxieties right now. It’s one of my favorite Curtis mayfield albums, and unfathomably overlooked. Today, I gave it another listen, an it really shook me. Not just any music can do that to me.
“Billy Jack” is truly a hypnotic masterpiece. This is deep funk of the highest order. It’s so raw and visceral but also dreamy; exerting an aural gravity. 1975? 2020? 2075? I’d really say no R&B or funk expectations going in could be disappointed. This song alone equates essential recommendation for the album.
The next half hour? Well, to be honest, it’s a up and down. “When Seasons Change” and “Jesus” are solid, softer Mayfield. Solid and with respectable messages, no doubt. Personally, I’m less of a fan when he leans into the brighter, religious side of soul. It isn’t bad, just feels fluffier than what I appreciate from his music. That isn’t to say I don’t like the joyous “So In Love”- I do. I just feel that particular song is a more archetypal.
For the final trio of songs, There’s No Place Like America Today again becomes too relatable. “Blue Monday People”, “Hard Times”, and “Love To The People” might have been written 45 years ago, but they resonate today. Darkly, pragmatically. These are edgy, visionary songs. Important songs. American songs. The cover almost says it all.