Let Me Tell You About A Gemini Genius From Chicago Named Curtis

Let’s be honest these days, the sign of Gemini gets a real bad wrap. From the person stinking up the oval office and some of his support staff to whatever the hell Kanye West is tripping on, it’s not a kind period of history for the sign of the twins. How can I, a Gemini myself, make peace with it.

With a blog/mixcloud dedication to one of the greatest songwriting Geminis of the 20th Century of course. Here’s my ode to Curtis Mayfield.

34058603196_30dc332ed5_zHe was born June 3, 1942 in Chicago, a sort of super Gemini kinda dude with five planets inhabiting that sign. A kid of one of the largest diaspora’s of the modern world (The Great Migration) framed his upbringing, including being part of a large family that shuffled between many of Chicago’s housing projects in the immediate post-war. Like so many, he took his sweet falsetto to church, joined the choir, and like rote for most mid-century soul stars, melded the sanctified and secular in the most beguiling ways.

The thing is with Curtis Mayfield though, is the level of social commentary that was baked into his songcraft from the beginning. His records spoke of concepts of “Black Joy” some 60 years before that became a popular hashtag. He sang of relational strife and wrote of societal stress. More upfront than his peers in Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadephia and Los Angeles, his hit records like “People Get Ready” and “Keep On Pushing” were a comforting audible salve to those standing up and fighting for appropriate rights.

This of course meant he doesn’t have the lengthy discography of major hits like Smokey Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland or Gamble & Huff. Nevertheless, some close to 20 years after his death, need we seek the reminder that love and justice are much the same thing, we can always drop the needle on his work.

1) Major Lance – Delilah
2) The Impressions – At The County Fair
3) The Fascinations – You’re Gonna Be Sorry
4) Martha & The Vandellas – It’s Alright
5) Jerry Butler – I’m The One Who Loves You
6) Jan Bradley – Behind The Curtains
7) Chuck Jackson – Need To Belong
8) Don Covay & The Good Timers – You Must Believe Me
9) The Orlons – Mama Didn’t Lie
10) Wade Flemons – Devil In Your Soul
11) The Opals – You Can’t Hurt Me No More
12) The Flamingos – Call Her On The Phone
13) Lulu – She Will Break Your Heart
14) Jerry Butler – Aware Of Love
15) Dee Clark – I’m A Soldier Boy
16) The Miracles – The Monkey Time
17) Gene Chandler – Nothing Can Stop Me
18) The Five Stairsteps – Don’t Waste Your Time
19) Marva Lee – If You Can’t Be True
20) The Marvelows – You’ve Been Going With Sally
21) The Fascinations – Girls Are Out To Get You
22) Billy Butler & The Enchanters – Nevertheless
23) Archie Bell & The Drells – Sometimes I Wonder
24) Ike & Tina Turner – Keep On Pushin’
25) Dusty Springfield – People Get Ready
26) The Main Ingredient – I’m So Proud
27) June Conquest – All I Need
28) Betty Everett – Hold On
29) Holly Maxwell – Suffer
30) Les Fleur De Lys – I’ve Been Tryin’
31) Della Reese – Choice of Colors
32) Laurel Aitken – If It’s Hell Below
33) Curtis Mayfield – On The Other Side Of Town
34) Linda Clifford – It’s Gonna Be A Long, Long River
35) Patti Jo – Ain’t No Love Lost
36) Loletta Holloway – Rainbow ’71
37) June & Donnie – I Thank You Baby
38) The Five Stairsteps – Baby Make Me Feel So Good
39) Gladys Knight & The Pips – Make Yours A Happy Home
40) The Impressions – We’re A Winner

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