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Central Park 1990 [no label, 1CD]
Live on Summerstage, Central Park, NYC; July 7, 1990. Very good to excellent soundboard. Last show ever.
Could Curtis Mayfield have known that one month later after this 1990 concert at Central Park, he would be struck down by a lightning rig and left paralysed?
Thinking bad thoughts just wasn’t in the habit for Mayfield even if much of his oeuvre consisted of dark social reality, of murders (Billy Jack), crime (Superfly) n drug abuse (Pusherman). You see, Mayfield’s signature perspective was that when there is nothing, there could only be hope.
Hence, his other signature song - Don’t Worry, If There’s A Hell Below (We’re All Gonna Go) - has missing words (in the song’s title) that you can make up yourself. As he yells out at the song’s end: “I’ll see you when you get there.” So hey, there’s hope yet, another chance to see Mayfield, after his death in 1999.
The slew of tribute albums and even a Remix project after his accident and later after his death show how indelible and transcendental his music had been. Few film soundtracks have mattered more than the film it accompanies than Superfly (1972). The fact that the music commented so much on the film’s narrative meant that it had its own independent life. These songs - Superfly, Freddie’s Dead, Pusherman - have consistently remained in his live concerts, and significantly featured here again.
In fact, Superfly opens this last concert show. His “other” soundtrack, that of the musical narrative to the ’60s civil rights movement, is also highly present in all his shows and you can hear these classics here again in People Get Ready and It’s Alright.
But his double narrative on I’m So Proud, which speaks of love as much as Black Pride is a romantic jewel that Mayfield continues to invest care and feeling during performances. There’s nothing throwaway here. It’s all emotion. It’s a song that continually needs getting into.
His band understands that. Frank Amato (keyboards), Lebron Scott (bass), Luis Stefanel (percussion) and Lee Goodness (drums) provide the space and rich detail that his songs feed off. It’s perhaps an ironic track when Mayfield ends the show with When Seasons Change from There’s No Place Like America Today (1975):
“So I might live the life - a little bit longer
So many changes - going in and out of my life
How can anyone survive
When everybody’s been made a sacrifice?”
Fearing being misunderstood, Mayfield calls out at the end, “This is not a sad song, only words of inspiration…” You see, Mayfield was incapable of bringing anyone down. His life was one long testament of looking up. - Philip Cheah
On August 13
14, 1990, Curtis Mayfield became paralysed from the neck down when a lighting rig fell on top of him at a concert in Brooklyn, NY. He died December 26, 1999 at the age of 57.
Thanks to cicada who shared the tracks at Traders Den.
Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (sample rate of 224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.
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Track 01. Superfly (6.5MB)
Track 02. It’s Allright (7.0MB)
Track 03. I’m So Proud (6.1MB)
Track 04. Freddie’s Dead (9.9MB)
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Track 05. Pusherman (12.6MB)
Track 06. Billy Jack (13.4MB)
Track 07. We’ve Gotta Have Peace (9.0MB)
Track 08. People Get Ready (4.6MB)
Track 09. Give Me Your Love (7.6MB)
Track 10. band intros / Do Be Down (7.8MB)
Track 11. To Be Invisible (6.7MB)
Track 12. Don’t Worry, If There’s A Hell Below (We’re All Gonna Go) (12.7MB)
Track 13. When Seasons Change (9.3MB)
Track 14. audience cheering and fade out (429k)
Click on the link to order Curtis Mayfield releases.