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People Get Ready

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Album Review

As with the previous year's Keep on Pushing, People Get Ready featured another big Curtis Mayfield hit, one that made as strong an impact on the civil-rights movement as on the charts. One of the most beautiful songs of the '60s, "People Get Ready" set the oft-used "gospel train" as its theme, with Mayfield speaking of faith for the present and deliverance in the future, while Sam Gooden and Fred Cash contributed beautiful harmony vocals (and a few lines of their own). That career touchstone aside, the rest of the material on the LP wasn't as strong as Keep on Pushing or the Impressions' marvelous debut. The two winners were "Woman's Got Soul" and "You Must Believe Me," both in a similar brassy, uptown mode as expected from the Chicago soul kingpins. A few of the songs were hauled out from as long as three years ago, like Mayfield's own version of "Can't Work No Longer," a Billy Butler hit he'd produced (also in 1965). The exceptional harmonies and arrangements were still in place, but for a few songs it was clear that Mayfield had tired of concocting novelties that looked back to the age of doo wop.


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 and lilting,...
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