Curtis Mayfield’s “Got To Find A Way” Reviewed
It has been two months since we reviewed Curtis Mayfield’s seventh solo album (here) and one of the main reasons there has been a delay is because of the way we write together. We both listen to the album (Tomas tends to have more previous knowledge of the album than Iman), then we meet for lunch when we discuss the album in detail and Iman tapes the conversation. Later, Iman puts together the conversation into a review, Tomas approves, and we post the review.
Due to the current “New York Pause” we can’t meet up to discuss and so we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, Iman wrote the review of Curtis’s eighth album, Got To Find A Way, an improvement over the disappointingly uncentered, zeitgeist missing Sweet Exorcist, and Tomas did an edit adding his opinion, and here we are!
Though Got To Find A Way didn’t do much business (it only got to #17 in the r&b charts, for comparison’s sake, Sweet Exorcist got to # 2), and in some ways it is slight with no overarching narrative, no attempt to be part of anything bigger than a contemporary funk and soul album, and even Curtis’s vaunted politics takes a step back with only two songs “Mother’s Son” and the working man ode “Cannot Find A Way” concerned with urban life and only the latter pinpoints the problems with any precision. Curtis was never up against the wall, his vision of Black was a middle class reality that racist US wouldn’t recognize, this is one of his most middle class albums, he narrates what is self-evident.
The other five songs are break up numbers, the title is an answer to “Cannot Find A Way” -the penultimate song here. But unlike Sweet Exorcist there are real songs here, as well as some of the best use of Curtis exquisite falsetto you’ll hear. The second song “So You Don’t Love Me,” is Mayfield’s loveliest song in years and year, a quiet storm of Smokey Robinson eye winking heartache and a great lost classic: in its mix of strings and Curtis guitar run, added to a world of Curtis’s on deep harmony. “A Prayer” has, if anything, a better vocal, “Love Me (Right In The Pocket)’ has Curtis finger picking his guitar like it was a bass, a soulful low key but thoroughly excellent funk workout for seven minutes and it completely deserves it.
I can’t find a bad song on the six song 34 minute album, and while none appear in the upper echelons of Curtis Mayfield’s catalog, none deserve to be ignored or forgotten.