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Curtis Mayfield: In Concert
producer: Michael Au

60 minutes (E) 1990
Wienerworld DVD Region '0' retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by John M. Peters
Curtis Mayfield was one of the true legends of American soul and rhythm 'n' blues music. Starting with his work with the Impressions in the early 1960s, then later in his solo career, his songs always contained a strong awareness of black American culture and encouraged political empowerment, striving to show his audience that there was an alternative to the street culture of drugs, guns and crime that became stereotypical during the late 1960s and 1970s. While he was never a huge star like Isaac Hayes or Prince, he used the soundtrack of cult blaxploitation movie Superfly to get his message over to a large audience.
   The concert on this DVD was filmed live at the Ohne Filter Studios in Germany on 28 April 1990. It is also probably one of the last recorded performances he ever made - later that year he was struck by a collapsing lighting rig at an outdoor gig which broke his back and left him bedridden for the rest of his life. Sadly he died a few years ago, having miraculously recorded a critically acclaimed album from his bed.
   Thankfully we have this concert to keep the musical memory alive of a superb song-smith, and while he was never into the heavy funk that black music mutated into back in the 1970s, this gig shows just how swinging and mesmerising he could be. Backed by a superb band this trawl through his songbook includes: Superfly, It's Alright, Gypsy Woman, Don't be Down, Freddie's Dead, Pusherman, Billy Jack, We Gotta Have Peace, People Get Ready, Move On Up and To Be Invisible.
   As usual with these In Concert discs the extras on the DVD are pretty poor - an interview with the producer, a text-based artist biography, and a short featurette hawking the TV show sponsors' audio cables.