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  1. #1

    Curtis Mayfield's 'Billy Jack'

    From the masterpiece lp 'There's No Place Like America Today'

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaj29ZBzCbw

  2. #2
    The album sucks. His last great album was "Back To The World".

  3. #3
    I was going to say. I love Curtis Mayfield's music, but I don't know that one. LOL!!!!

  4. #4
    Hi Marv, if you don't know the album, it is IMO very good if you devote some time listening to Curtis's excellent lyrics and heartfelt delivery. Here's a balanced review from All Music

    AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder
    The title is intended in an ironic way, as illustrated not only by the cover -- a grim parody of late-'40s/early-'50s advertising imagery depicting white versus black social reality -- but the grim yet utterly catchy and haunting opening number, "Billy Jack." A song about gun violence that was years ahead of its time, it's scored to an incisive horn arrangement by Richard Tufo. "When Seasons Change" is a beautifully wrought account of the miseries of urban life that contains elements of both gospel and contemporary soul. The album's one big song, "So in Love," which made number 67 on the pop charts but was a Top Ten soul hit, is only the prettiest of a string of exquisite tracks on the album, including "Blue Monday People" and "Jesus" and the soaring finale, "Love to the People," broken up by the harder-edged "Hard Times." The album doesn't really have as clearly delineated a body of songs as Mayfield's earlier topical releases, but it's in the same league with his other work of the period and represents him near his prime as a composer.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    I was going to say. I love Curtis Mayfield's music, but I don't know that one. LOL!!!!
    I have the album, but I was very underwhelmed with it when I first played it. I found it musically minimalist. I guess some people like that, I don't. Just my preference. The album sounded like he was creatively burned out. Curtis mayfield started producing more after that album.

  6. #6
    Marv, you might know Hard Times which became something of a classic. In addition to Curtis's self composed version, it was also recorded by Baby Huey, John Legend and The Roots, and Gene Chandler ( retitled In My Body's House)

  7. #7
    You guys have me howling with laughter!!!. I have to agree that album wasn't one if his best, but I understand why it came out that way. When most of these songs were conceived, Curtis was experiencing a short depression. The content of the songs are probably more serious than ever. The brother was always deep,but he had a real Spike Lee moment here. But as opposed to Spike paying for it at the box office,Curt paid for it in record sales. It's one of those albums where you have to actually be in that mood to listen to it. Songs like "Jesus" and "When Seasons Change" and "Blue Monday People" are just too heavy. "Billy Jack" struck me as a song with a good story that took forever to tell. The song just drags with Curtis taking his sweet time LOL!. Lack of chord changes or real melody on the track doesn't help either. Low point for the Gentle Genius.

    In retrospect, I like to say Curtis had the same struggle Smokey had in the 70's, Quantity Over Quality. Since those were the soul poets of our time I put them together in that respect. It seems that they released records just to keep their name out there as opposed to giving fans greatness every time. Even if they had to take more time off than usual to get a project there,they didn't, they just kept throwing them out there to dismal sales. Smokey lasted a hell of a lot longer, but they made the same mistake.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by soulster View Post
    The album sucks. His last great album was "Back To The World".
    Very true. Imagine the pressure that was on him to follow "Superfly" at that time. I like to call "Back To The World" his "Around The World In A Day" joint. 12 years later Prince would be under the same pressure to follow "Purple Rain" and would purposely go in a different direction. Creative people detest expectation and will often buck the system as a kiss off to the applied weight.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
    In retrospect, I like to say Curtis had the same struggle Smokey had in the 70's, Quantity Over Quality.
    My opinion is different. I think Smokey did very well in the quality department in the 70s.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
    Very true. Imagine the pressure that was on him to follow "Superfly" at that time. I like to call "Back To The World" his "Around The World In A Day" joint. 12 years later Prince would be under the same pressure to follow "Purple Rain" and would purposely go in a different direction. Creative people detest expectation and will often buck the system as a kiss off to the applied weight.
    "There's No Place Like America Today" wasn't bucking the system. It was a sign of a creative burnout. Perhaps he was more introspective with that album, but, he failed, IMO, and I think the sales figures show it.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Quinn View Post
    You guys have me howling with laughter!!!. I have to agree that album wasn't one if his best, but I understand why it came out that way. When most of these songs were conceived, Curtis was experiencing a short depression. The content of the songs are probably more serious than ever. The brother was always deep,but he had a real Spike Lee moment here. But as opposed to Spike paying for it at the box office,Curt paid for it in record sales. It's one of those albums where you have to actually be in that mood to listen to it. Songs like "Jesus" and "When Seasons Change" and "Blue Monday People" are just too heavy. "Billy Jack" struck me as a song with a good story that took forever to tell. The song just drags with Curtis taking his sweet time LOL!. Lack of chord changes or real melody on the track doesn't help either. Low point for the Gentle Genius.

    In retrospect, I like to say Curtis had the same struggle Smokey had in the 70's, Quantity Over Quality. Since those were the soul poets of our time I put them together in that respect. It seems that they released records just to keep their name out there as opposed to giving fans greatness every time. Even if they had to take more time off than usual to get a project there,they didn't, they just kept throwing them out there to dismal sales. Smokey lasted a hell of a lot longer, but they made the same mistake.
    Well, I'm quite sure Mayfield would be very disappointed with 'howling with laughter' over a thread dedicated to this exquisite and personal LP. Listeners with greater intellect rate this one very highly. I could be mistaken, though, as most of the comments here are by posters I long ago blocked so I haven't read them. I'd be willing to bet they're childish, negative and unenlightened. Best of luck to you -
    Last edited by PeaceNHarmony; 07-12-2018 at 09:15 AM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    Well, I'm quite sure Mayfield would be very disappointed with 'howling with laughter' over a thread dedicated to this exquisite and personal LP. Listeners with greater intellect rate this one very highly. I could be mistaken, though, as most of the comments here are by posters I long ago blocked so I haven't read them. I'd be willing to bet they're childish, negative and unenlightened. Best of luck to you -
    In all respect,I will let you know where I stand with this album and your comments.As far as my laughter is concerned,I wasn't laughing at Curtis or the content of his album, but rather the way a few members expressed their honest opinions.Like many,I own nearly every solo album Curtis released and have an appreciation for his music and message.However,I'm not impressed by them all and "There's No Place..." happens to be one of them. The album was roundly knocked by the critics and largely ignored by fans except for "So In Love",which sold respectably as a single.I'm not going to go into a long history on how he tried to run Curtom and be an artist at the same time, but let's face it:with the exception of a few stellar soundtracks, after "Superfly" his best days were behind him.You can say what you want, but that's the reality of it. Anyone who cared to comment gave an honest personal evaluation of this album,you can't take a person's view point from them.You don't have to agree with what folks say or respond,but you can't tell them what to think.Have a great day and I hope you enjoy this particular work for many years to come.Best of luck to you-
    Last edited by Quinn; 07-12-2018 at 10:02 AM.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    Listeners with greater intellect rate this one very highly. I could be mistaken, though, as most of the comments here are by posters I long ago blocked so I haven't read them.
    Personnally I never blocked nobody but that album is my favorite Curtis LP, along with the Live one. For all the fans -and the others- I can highly recommend the book written by his son Todd, a very instructive and detailed biography :


  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by phil View Post
    Personnally I never blocked nobody but that album is my favorite Curtis LP, along with the Live one. For all the fans -and the others- I can highly recommend the book written by his son Todd, a very instructive and detailed biography :

    I've not read it but will definitely do so now; thanks for recommending -

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEW-UK View Post
    Marv, you might know Hard Times which became something of a classic. In addition to Curtis's self composed version, it was also recorded by Baby Huey, John Legend and The Roots, and Gene Chandler ( retitled In My Body's House)
    Thanks Mike!

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  20. #20
    Depends on your view, creative lull or creative heights..... Hard Times has a massive following and is one of the most sampled tracks......

  21. #21
    Marv, finally a version by our own Drew Schultz!!!!


  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEW-UK View Post
    Interesting clips - thanks for finding and posting.

  23. #23
    IMO one of the greates soul albums, ever.

    Here’s what I said in my review in my Spinning Around Volume 2 Book

    I seem to recall Blues & Souls John Abbey calling the cover to There’s No Place Like America Today ‘incredibly banal’ or something similar whereas in fact it cleverly uses Margaret Bourke White’s 1937 photograph of the aftermath of flooding in Kentucky to make its inescapable point: being black in America in1975 was still all too often no picnic. It is to my mind the last time Mayfield gave us something great and the whole set has a subtlety, spare integrity (few and muted strings this time around) and hard winter glitter that has rendered it timeless. (Thankfully, too, the superb musicians were finally identified on a Mayfield LP sleeve.) ‘Billy Jack’ is a character who could easily have come from Superfly and the story of his death is masterfully recounted atop a memorable Quinton Joseph drum track. ‘When Seasons Change’, ’Hard Times’ - previously cut by Baby Huey and Gene Chandler (as ‘In My Body’s House’ in the latter case) - ‘Jesus’ and ‘Blue Monday People’ all speak to the scuffles and deprivations of life without offering any easy answers (‘look into yourself ‘ is the best he can offer) and it’s therefore left to ‘So In Love’ and ‘Love To The People’ to offer us hope in the face of all the despair. The former - a beautiful affirmation of affection - has a bright brassy flourish that hits us like the sun coming up after a prolonged period of darkness and made it to #9 soul as a single, while the latter is crucially placed as the last track on side b : Curtis still had his hope after all.

    There are thousands of other reviews like this in my book for those that are interested.
    Last edited by Amithesameboy; 07-27-2018 at 12:06 PM.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Amithesameboy View Post
    IMO one of the greates soul albums, ever.

    Here’s what I said in my review in my Spinning Around Volume 2 Book

    I seem to recall Blues & Souls John Abbey calling the cover to There’s No Place Like America Today ‘incredibly banal’ or something similar whereas in fact it cleverly uses Margaret Bourke White’s 1937 photograph of the aftermath of flooding in Kentucky to make its inescapable point: being black in America in1975 was still all too often no picnic. It is to my mind the last time Mayfield gave us something great and the whole set has a subtlety, spare integrity (few and muted strings this time around) and hard winter glitter that has rendered it timeless. (Thankfully, too, the superb musicians were finally identified on a Mayfield LP sleeve.) ‘Billy Jack’ is a character who could easily have come from Superfly and the story of his death is masterfully recounted atop a memorable Quinton Joseph drum track. ‘When Seasons Change’, ’Hard Times’ - previously cut by Baby Huey and Gene Chandler (as ‘In My Body’s House’ in the latter case) - ‘Jesus’ and ‘Blue Monday People’ all speak to the scuffles and deprivations of life without offering any easy answers (‘look into yourself ‘ is the best he can offer) and it’s therefore left to ‘So In Love’ and ‘Love To The People’ to offer us hope in the face of all the despair. The former - a beautiful affirmation of affection - has a bright brassy flourish that hits us like the sun coming up after a prolonged period of darkness and made it to #9 soul as a single, while the latter is crucially placed as the last track on side b : Curtis still had his hope after all.

    There are thousands of other reviews like this in my book for those that are interested.
    That's an excellent review; hits all the points that make this lp a classic, even the choice of cover art which you id'd but most do not.

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