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This Is My Country

The Impressions

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Album Review

Despite a few indications to the contrary, the Impressions' first record for Curtis Mayfield's new label, Curtom, didn't make for a large leap from their most recent work at ABC (1968's We're a Winner). The cover photo was radical enough, featuring the trio standing in front of a decrepit building (which shifted the meaning of the title from pride to accusation). Most of the arrangements were tight late-'60s soul rather than '50s doo wop, and the group spent less time harmonizing than before. Still, there were only two message tracks: the title track, which stood up for blacks' place in America, and an impassioned plea for education titled "They Don't Know." For the most part, Curtis Mayfield continued to investigate the vagaries of love and relationships, with the bombastic hit "Fool for You" leading the way. "Stay Close to Me" is a bright, bouncy track, more Motown than Chicago soul but as tight and joyous as some of the Impressions' other great material. The chugging ballad "Love's Happening" is another solid performance, while "I'm Loving Nothing" is utter heartbreak. Two of the minor songs featured writing co-credits from Donny Hathaway, then recording for Curtom with the Mayfield Singers.

Biography

Formed: 1958 in Chicago, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '10s

The quintessential Chicago soul group, the Impressions' place in R&B history would be secure if they'd done nothing but launch the careers of soul legends Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield. But far more than that, the Impressions recorded some of the most distinctive vocal-group R&B of the '60s under Mayfield's guidance. Their style was marked by airy, feather-light harmonies and Mayfield's influentially sparse guitar work, plus, at times, understated Latin rhythms. If their sound was sweet...
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