Telling a story of cocaine and inner city hardship, Curtis Mayfield’s hit soundtrack to the early 1970’s film ‘Super Fly’ is currently being re-released in a special two disc deluxe version (also previously released, but now further digitally enhanced). Mayfield provided this stirring, heralded soundtrack to a criticised movie portrayal of a drug dealer in the ghetto.

Evoking the streets and the city, Mayfield’s soulful spiritual vocals tell a tale of urban travails. Inspired arrangements and instrumentation include the fine use of horns.

On ‘Little Child Runnin’ Wild’, Mayfield sings: “I got a jones running through my bones… I got to take the pain away/ It’s getting worse day by day,” as we hear about the life of an up-against-the-wall junkie and his drug dealer pusherman.

While the film ‘Super Fly’ could be criticised for racial exploitation, Mayfield’s insightful soundtrack is anything but, clearly speaking to the troubling realities of the drug culture. Note the lyrics of ‘Pusherman’: “I’m your mama/I’m your daddy… I’m your doctor when you need/Want some coke/Have some weed… I’m your pusherman.” Mayfield nails the pulse, the decadence and the stories of the hard time city.

‘Freddie’s Dead’ is a lyrical and musical knockout track. A mega hit at the time of its release, the number helped secure Mayfield’s place in the pantheon of Soul’s greatest: “It’s hard to understand/There was love in this man… Everybody’s misused him/Ripped him up and abused him… Fred is on the corner now/ If you want to be a junkie, wow/Remember Freddie’s dead.”

‘Super Fly’ is full of meaning and muse, akin to the Marvin Gaye classic ‘What’s Going On’ album. On ‘No Thing On Me’ Mayfield declares positively “You don’t have to be no junkie… My life’s a natural high/The man can’t put no thing on me… Sure is funky/I ain’t no junkie.”

‘Super Fly’, the title track, is gritty and hard hitting, with lyrics about drug hustling in city streets, capturing the troubled culture of cocaine.
The second disc’s additional tracks and alternative versions are also worthwhile. A demo of ‘Ghetto Child’ is effective with Mayfield singing about broken homes in an alternate take on ‘Little Child Runnin’ Wild’. The instrumental of ‘Freddie’s Dead’ (one of three versions of the song here) is a moving compliment to the soundtrack version on disc one.

In a final interview segment here, Mayfield waxes philosophically on his career and muse.

‘Super Fly’ remains a dynamic inner city soul album, capturing Curtis Mayfield at the point of his career apex.











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