- Audio CD (July 20, 1999)
- Original Release Date: August 4, 1972
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Soundtrack
- Label: Rhino
- California residents: Click here for Proposition 65 warning.
- Run Time: 93 minutes
- ASIN: B00000JFV9
- Average Customer Review: 235 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Superfly 1972 Film
Extra Tracks, Reissued, Remastered
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Rhino remastered single disc edition w/2 bonus tracks Superfly & Freddie's Dead (single mixes). Classic album!
The term "classic" is tossed about a lot these days, and when it's being used to describe everything from Coke to a Janet Jackson CD, the term is shady. But take my word that the 1972 soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Superfly is a true classic. Why? Because 25 years after its release, the songs still ring true and sound fresh. A morality tale set to funky grooves and plaintive vocals, Superfly is the zenith of Mayfield's socially aware songwriting, recounting the highs and lows of the thug life and the no-win ghetto game of hustling. It's hard to believe, but a doom-filled ode to screwing up ("Freddie's Dead") was actually a big hit during the Nixon years. Truth be told, the record sounds as good, if not better, today and should be in everyone's collection. --Amy Linden
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Hayes score for Shaft and Marvin Gaye's for Trouble Man (which would be released in late 1972), were almost entirely instrumental except for a song or two. Curtis took a different approach and wrote a full song-score for the film with only a couple instrumental tracks; although in the film itself many of the song themes were played instrumentally as background and Freddie's Dead was never sung in the film at all, only appearing as an instrumental, thus denying it an Academy Award nomination. Curtis also wrote most of his songs as commentary on the main characters of the drama. In doing this Curtis dealt with his main conflict with the film, that it could be seen as glorifying drugs and crime (it received many accusations of this by important organizations in the black community). Curtis Mayfield was a very positive, optimistic person who had been active in the Civil Rights Movement and who generally wrote inspirational songs. Here he wrote highly critical songs where financing is all the Pusherman understands, you get "Two bags free for a generous fee, and even for Superfly (Priest) "time's running out and there's no happiness". And of course Freddie's dead. No Thing On Me was a totally anti-drug anthem that preached a natural high.
The music itself is somewhat at odds with the gritty scenes on the screen. Mayfield wrote beautiful music for this film and it was remarkably well-orchestrated. This is why you really need the album to appreciate it. In the film much of it is so in the background or appear only partially and only really listening to it brings out full power and intensity as well as the brilliant scoring. Little Child Running Wild is my favorite Mayfield song of his solo career. it's opens with organ and bongos and a screaming urban guitar, then staccato bursts of brass, mournful strings and a blues sax that underscore its tragic tale. It climaxes with a long fade with the sax and strings commenting on he hopelessness of the song. He had already written this song when given the film score commission, but he felt it worked perfectly and it did. Pusherman, which follows is pure minimalism, a quiet backdrop of guitar and percussion as Mayfield impersonates he pusherman himself. Everyone knows Freddie's Dead with its dynamic rhythm. Give Me Your Love, the film's love song is a masterpiece of scoring with its funk/jazz mix of electric guitars, piano, strings and harp and Curtis' voice soaring above it all. And that's just a few of the highlights.
The album was conceived all as a piece, not as a mix of singles and B-sides, so everything flows together. It not only captured a moment in time but has stood the test of time as a classic. This CD is the same as the one Rhino released in 1999. Both contain the same tracks and the two bonus tracks of the shortened single versions of Freddie's Dead and Superfly. In its original release it had an 18-page booklet with stills from the film, lyrics and commentary. That edition sold at a mid-price of $13.00 to $15.00. In this new edition the tracks and remastering are the same but the booklet has been shortened to the inside listing tracks and personnel (including Johnny Pate, Curtis' long-time friend and arranger. The two had a major falling out over credits on this album which everyone involved said was sad to see, since both were good men). The old booklet is nice but not necessary. The music is all here and really beautifully remastered and at the moment at a practically giveaway price. Get It.
The album as reached number 1 on both the R&B & Pop charts, and set such a standard for how soundtracks were to be recorded from that point on. It was truly an artist displaying full mastery of his craft, composing, writing, arranging, producing, singing and performing, Curtis did it all! He had already had a Hall Of Fame career as a member of The Impressions who are one of the most under-appreciated groups of all time! He also has released 3 solo albums previous to this one being "Curtis"; "Roots" and "Curtis Live" that had established him as an undenible force of nature. But this was to be his signature album, you know, the one that from then on we would point back to when giving an example of his absolute greatness.
All the greats have "that" album were everything truly comes together and there's no denying it's flawless genius. He was an influence to millions across the world by the time this album and movie were released. The true genius here is that the movie is based upon the life of a "Pusherman" and, in many ways, glorifies that lifestyle. Curtis took the script and turned it on it's head in such a brilliant and almost subtle way that it's almost missed.
"Little Child Running Wild" is a perfect example of this, while the film is busy glorifying it's ghetto prince, Curtis is portrays the terrilbe nature of his condition and how it came to be that way. "Pusherman" is ghetto perfection and more than any other song, gives an expose of life on the streets in the "hood." It is a perfect fit for the scene in the movie where it appears and is one of the absolute highlights. It would almost seem as if Curtis is glorifying here but if you listen, it's almost a mockery of the lifestyle and those trapped within it.
The next song is "Freddie's Dead" and more than any other displays the genius of this man. Freddie's character has exactly 10 to 15 seconds, if that, at the beginning of the film and as Curtis sings, he's murdered and thrown on a corner to die. From that small scene, Mr. Mayfield gives us the longest track on the album and tells such a gripping tale with such gorgeous compositions that you truly feel as if you've know the man all of his life. And that's the most profound beauty of this soundtrack, Curtis is telling another story within the story being revealed on screen. You truly would miss his lyrical content within the context of the overall film if it wasn't there. Like there's several scenes missing.
There are 2 wonderful instrumental pieces "Junkie Chase" and "Think" both of which shows off Mayfield's tremendous music composition skills which, to these ears, are second to none. "Give Me Your Love" is as sensual as song as you'll ever hear and is as hot and steamy as the love scene it played behind in the film. Another crown jewel on the album is "Eddie You Should Know Better", this song is, in a way, the exact opposite of "Freddie's Dead" in that Eddie is a main character and truly another sad soul who instead of giving you background information on, Curtis takes the least amount of time to deal with as he is a truly pitiful individual and the song just laments the state he's ended up in after so many people worked so hard to help him be better.
"No Thing On Me (Cocaine Song)is Curtis giving soulful wisdom, it's the most telling denunciation of the "ghetto lifestyle" on the album and is as poetic a song as you'll hear. And the title and closing track, "Superfly", is another song, which if you give a close listen, not only doesn't praise the lifestyle but is almost a tongue lashing as the smarts displayed on the streets could be used for something far more benefical to himself and the community at large.
I have stated on several occasions that Mr. Mayfield was the single most under-apprecicated artist of all time. His lyrics, music compositions & vocals and the combination of the 3 were as impressive as anyone in music history & i'd put his albums up against any artist & The Impressions albums up against any groups in any genre from any time period. This truly was his time to shine and shine he did, this album was a game changer and music was the beneficary of it's wonderful themes and techniques.