10. Curtis Mayfield, Get, Give, Take and Have
|(1976, Curtom -- I'm probably listening to mp3s of a Charly CD reissue)|
I gather this is considered a relatively minor Mayfield album, recorded between soundtrack and production work for other artists (namely, Aretha and Mavis), and it does have some evident shortcomings -- most of the songs seem rambling rather than formally adventurous, and, very surprisingly, I hear some undisciplined playing. I'm assuming that the prominent acoustic guitar leads on much of the record are Mayfield's -- it's a pleasantly unusual texture for this kind of plush soul/funk, but it's responsible for some unforgivable microrhythmic traffic jams (mostly w/ the congas), especially on "In Your Arms Again." Remarkable mainly for its final track, "Mr. Welfare Man," which, thematic shift aside, is a more striking and ambitious piece of music than anything else here by some distance: "You might want to say I'm a lazy man/but you've got to understand/there's a thing about my pride/you can't make me move if there ain't no groove/'cos it eats me all inside." You can perhaps imagine the melodic grace with which this is delivered, and the several layers of dramatic string and horn writing that accompany it. The song isn't obscure -- there's also a Gladys Knight version, with somewhat different lyrics and a more uptempo feel -- but it's interesting to stumble upon in the bait-and-switch context of the album that I thought, for 7/8s of its length, was going to remain entirely in love-man mode. (Not to say that the title track doesn't have an economics of its own -- a libidinal one: "I need you so greedily."