Grow Closer Together

Grow Closer Together #7 / Week of June 4, 2001

Welcome to the seventh episode of Grow Closer Together!

For the next two shows we will be celebrating the musics of Curtis Mayfield and Joe Higgs, demonstrating their vast talents, influences upon music, and their legends. Curtis and Joe were both born on June 3rd, so what better time to pay tribute to these two fine artists. This week's show will focus on Curtis Mayfield, so sit back and relax and for the next hour you will bear witness to this true musical giant.

Musician, composer, producer, and philosopher, Curtis did it all, and when he passed away in 1999, Curtis amassed over 40 years to his career, and his music and influence still lives on today.

We begin the show with a unique radio spot that Curtis did in promotion for his "Superfly" soundtrack album. The spot remained unissued until Rhino records released the amazing 25th Anniversary edition of the soundtrack in 1997. The origin of our show's name comes from The Impressions' 1961 song GROW CLOSER TOGETHER so we would be remiss to not include it in this tribute. On the surface the song is a love ballad, but transcends to a meaning of love for humanity. The Impressions, based out of Chicago, Illinois, were easily one of the finest harmony groups ever and featured Curtis, Sam Gooden, and Fred Cash.

Curtis Mayfield's influence on Jamaican music is monumental, yet incredibly underrated. This is finely shown in the Jamaican harmony group THE UNIQUES with their version of "Gypsy Woman." We jump back to THE IMPRESSIONS with their 1963 song "It's All Right."

CORNELL CAMPBELL reworked The Impressions' "Minstrel And Queen" for his Studio One song "Queen Of The Minstrel" from the 1960s. We break into a short interview segment with Curtis, where he discusses the longevity and timelessness of his music.

One of our personal favorites in the vast catalog of THE IMPRESSIONS, would have to be "Man Oh Man (I Want To Go Back)" from 1965. Curtis Mayfield penned most of The Impressions' songs, and he also wrote for other artists. One of these artists included MAJOR LANCE, who went to highschool with Curtis. The song is "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" from 1963. If you listen carefully, you can hear Curtis singing along in the background.

You've now heard songs written and performed by Curtis, but he was also a producer as well. He produced the majority of Impressions songs, as well as branching out to produce other artists as well. In 1964, Curtis and his production partner Carl Davis produced a Jamaican ska album entitled "The Real Jamaica Ska" with the likes of Jimmy Cliff, The Charmers, Winston Samuel, and the next artist LORD CREATOR with "Man To Man." Switching back to THE IMPRESSIONS with their 1968 song "We're A Winner."

Another excellent harmony trio group from Jamaica are THE HEPTONES, which consisted of Leroy Sibbles, Barry Llewelyn, and Earl Morgan. Their cover of The Impressions' "Choice Of Color" from their Studio One days, is an excellent example of The Heptones' harmony capabilities and the great influence Curtis had on Jamaican music. Next up is another tune from MAJOR LANCE called "Gotta Get Away" from 1964. This song was also written by Curtis and produced by Carl Davis.

Curtis decided to go solo from The Impressions in 1970, when he released his debut solo album "Curtis" on his very own Curtom Records label. The next song is from that album and is entitled "Move On Up." A tribute show would not be complete without demonstrating the live power that Curtis possessed on stage. In 1971 a live Curtis album was released and "I Plan To Stay A Believer" is from that album.

Curtis was a huge influence on countless modern acts, including Fishbone, who covered Curtis' "Freddie's Dead" song for their 1988 "Truth And Soul" album. CURTIS MAYFIELD and FISHBONE teamed up for one song from the I'm Gonna Git You Sucka movie soundtrack, called "He's A Flyguy." Curtis Mayfield's "Do Be Down" sounds as if it could easily have been recorded during his Impressions days, but it is in fact from 1990.

Next we include a reggae version of The Impressions' "Grow Closer Together" from JUNIOR MURVIN and produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry. The song is from the Lee Perry "Arkology" boxset and despite miscrediting the writing of the song to Murvin and Perry, it is actually a Curtis penned tune. We end this tribute with some words of wisdom from Curtis himself, telling people to keep on pushing! Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions live!

Until next week!

* Daniel & Seth Nelson *