MOVIN’ ON UP: THE MUSIC AND MESSAGE OF CURTIS MAYFIELD & THE IMPRESSIONS DOCUMENTARY TO BE RELEASED ON DVD MAY 6, 2008
Film Focuses on Life and Work of Legendary Artist and R&B Group Including their Important Contributions to the Civil Rights Era. Also Included are 22 Complete Vintage Television Performances.
“You hear in Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions the spiritual power of a
Martin Luther King”
- Ambassador Andrew Young
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Impressions, Reelin’ In The Years Productions and Universal Music Group International are proud to announce the May 2008 release of the documentary Movin’ On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions on DVD. The two-hour film tells the incredible story of one of the greatest artists and most important R&B groups of all time. Also included in the documentary are 22 complete vintage television performances from The Impressions and Curtis Mayfield’s solo career filmed between 1965 and 1973.
In addition to telling the history of Curtis Mayfield as an artist and the Impressions as a group,
the filmexplores how The Impressions’ music was a virtual soundtrack for the civil rights era in the ‘60s. In an interview filmed exclusively for the documentary, civil rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young (who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) speaks about the effect classic Impressions songs such as “People Get Ready,” “Choice of Colors” and “We’re A Winner” had on the movement, and how often their songs were sung for inspiration in churches and during marches (some led by Dr. King.) The film also shows how Curtis Mayfield’s solo work helped define the early ‘70s. Chuck D, leader of the rap group Public Enemy, provides context about Curtis’s music as a soundtrack to the grim realities of urban life culminating with his 1972 masterpiece Superfly. In addition, Carlos Santana, speaks about Curtis Mayfield’s unique genius as a songwriter, artist and teacher and also comments on the spiritual nature of his music.
Also featured in the film are Impressions Fred Cash and Sam Gooden, who discuss the history of the group, beginning with their origins in the late ‘50s and share incredible stories about many of their classic songs as well as give insight into Curtis as a songwriter. In addition, producer/arranger Johnny Pate speaks about the recording process of their classic songs and reminisces about the Impressions in the studio. Altheida Mayfield, Curtis’s widow, provides tender insight into the personal side of Curtis, including his inspirations and aspirations as well as stories about Curtis as a husband and family man. Curtis Mayfield himself speaks through several archival interviews filmed throughout his career.
Movin’ On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions includes a wealth of staggering full-length performances filmed throughout America and Europe beginning with The Impressions singing their classic hit, “It’s All Right” and progressing through the group’s career including the only known performance of “People Get Ready” (filmed in 1965), a stirring medley of “We’re A Winner/Amen” from 1968, as well as “Woman’s Got Soul,” “Choice Of Colors,” and a host of others. Performances from Curtis Mayfield’s solo career include “We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue” from his first solo album, as well as five amazing songs performed in 1972 from the classic Superfly album including “Freddie’s Dead,” “Pusherman,” and “Superfly” – all featuring Curtis’s astounding band - one of the greatest (and most underrated) in the history of soul.
Movin’ On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions also features a bonus section with five additional performances from 1972 including “We’re A Winner,” “Movin’ On Up” and “Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey)” as well as an additional version of “Freddie’s Dead” filmed live in a recording studio. Also included are an additional 20 minutes of interviews bringing the total running time to three hours.
Movin’ On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions also includes a 28-page booklet with an extensive essay by GRAMMY® award-winning writer Rob Bowman, who also conducted the interviews and co-produced this DVD. The booklet includes rare photographs and memorabilia featuring never-before-seen images from the Mayfield family’s personal archives.
For Movin’ On Up: The Music And Message Of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions every effort has been made to locate the best possible sound and video; each of the performances has been re-transferred and re-mastered from the best-quality, original masters (some resting in the television vaults for more than 40 years). In the case of lip-sync performances, the original master recordings have been used, replacing the original TV broadcast audio and making for a much more enjoyable viewing and listening experience.
Reelin' In The Years Productions LLC is the world’s largest music footage library and has produced over 30 DVD releases including the four-volume The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1969 DVD series. Released to universal critical acclaim, Volume One was nominated for a GRAMMY® award in the category of “Best Long Form Music Video.” 2006 saw the release of the certified-platinum The Temptations — Get Ready, The Definitive Performances 1965–1972, the certified-gold Marvin Gaye — The Real Thing In Performance 1964–1981 and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles — Definitive Performances 1963–1987, the first official DVD anthologies of classic archival television performances by Motown artists. 2007 DVD releases included Dreams To Remember: The Legacy Of Otis Redding and The Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway 1967. Also released to international acclaim have been the 16 titles in the Jazz Icons DVD series. For further information, please visit www.reelinintheyears.com. or www.jazzicons.com
Producers David Peck, Phil Galloway, Tom Gulotta and Rob Bowman are available for interviews.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE DVD
It’s All Right (1965)
Woman’s Got Soul (1965)
I Need You (1965)
People Get Ready (1965)
Meeting Over Yonder (1965)
We’re A Winner/Amen (1968)
This Is My Country (1970)
Choice Of Colors (1969)
Check Out Your Mind (1970)
(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go (1970)
Keep On Keeping On (1972)
We Got To Have Peace (1972)
We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue/Give Me Your Love (1972)
Freddie’s Dead (1972)
Eddie You Should Know Better (1973)
Future Shock (1973)
The Makings Of You (1970)
We’re A Winner (1972)
Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey) (1972)
We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue (1972)
Move On Up (1972)
Freddie’s Dead (1973)
April 28, 2008
Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions Immortalized In New Documentary
By Margena A. Christian
This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Impressions. The acclaimed soul group, whose music is considered to have been a soundtrack for the civil rights era, and its late legendary member, Curtis Mayfield, are being immortalized in an upcoming DVD documentary.
Movin' On Up: The Music and Message of Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions, the two·hour film by Reelin' In The Years Productions and Universal Music Group International, is slated for release on May 6 (www.reelinintheyears.com).
"I don't think Curtis or The Impressions have gotten their just due in the world of music as a whole," said David Peck, one of the project's directors and producers. "I hope this film will show people their place, not just in music history, but in history. Their job affected all of us. It still does."
The Impressions, whose original members included Mayfield, Fred Cash and Sam Gooden, were noted for their lyrics of faith and inspiration. The group's 1964 song “Keep On Pushing” is widely regarded as the first R&B song to rally Blacks behind the Civil Rights Movement.
Other poignant songs included “It's All Right,” “People Get Ready,” “Meeting Over Yonder,” “Choice of Colors,” “We're A Winner,” and “Check Out Your Mind.”
"You hear in Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions the spiritual power of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," said civil rights leader Andrew Young, who speaks in the film.
Cash and Gooden, who still perform, share their thoughts in the film as well. Mayfield died in 1999.
"We were young. The movement was happening," said Cash. "We had a lot of nerve. We still sang those songs. We didn't know it was going to be what it is today. Curtis was one of the great writers I've known in my lifetime."
Gooden said, "We told [Curtis] he was writing songs before his time. He was writing songs that still inspire people to keep on pushing. To sit and look at it now as they stand the test of time is fantastic."
While many groups during that time were quartets or quintets, The Impressions were a mighty trio. Because of their vocal power, people were amazed that there were only three members.
"Fred, Sam and Curtis had a very unique sense of harmony singing," said Rob Bowman, a producer of the documentary who also penned the liner notes. "The whole sound of Chicago soul in the '60s is modeled on what these three guys developed with “It's All Right."
Cash said, "Back during that time, White artists would cover your songs. It would be much bigger than what you had. So we started singing way up so that people couldn't imitate us. If they did one of our songs, they had to put some work into it to make it happen."
The documentary includes 22 complete performances from The Impressions and Mayfield's solo career. The group performed together until 1970 when Mayfield left to go solo. On his own, Mayfield scored big with the monumental 1972 soundtrack Superfly, which featured classics such as the title track, “Freddie's Dead,” and “Pusherman.”
"When he got the [Superfly] script, he said it read well," recalled Altheida Mayfield, Curtis' widow, who also appears in the documentary. "But when they did the film, they didn't put any money in it. It looked like a commercial for cocaine. He didn't think it was right. He tried to turn it around and make something positive with the music."
In 1990, while performing during an outdoor benefit concert, a windstorm knocked down a lighting unit. The scaffold fell on Mayfield, fracturing several vertebrae, and left him paralyzed from the neck down. A noted guitarist, Mayfield could no longer play his favorite instrument.
"I just mourned my guitar," Mayfield told JET in 1996. "It was like a human being. It was like another brother for me. I used to sleep with my guitar."
On May 20, Mayfield will be posthumously inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk at Guitar Center in Hollywood, CA. The sidewalk immortalizes legendary musicians who are recognized as the world's greatest guitarists.
"When the accident happened, we went through our changes," said Altheida, who was with Mayfield for 23 years.
"I had to have him do something. He had a mind. He couldn't let a mind go down because the body went down. He took the initiative to get back up and try."
Mayfield's last album was 1996's New World Order, which earned a Grammy nomination. He recorded the album one line at a time and lying in a supine position.
Altheida is pleased with the documentary. "I wanted to make sure Curtis didn't get lost in the shuffle," she said. "He felt that movement. He tried to express it in songs. He made music until he couldn't make music anymore."
Peck concluded: "Their music transcends music. It's associated with the Civil Rights Movement. It's important that the world realizes these weren't just songs, but songs with a powerful message that meant something then as it still does today."
Review by Lindsay Planer
This two-plus hour documentary centers on the immortal music of Curtis Mayfield—both as a solo artist and member of the Impressions. In between the 22 full-length vintage clips are first-person tales assembling an all-star cast of folks who knew Mayfield best, as well as those who were directly influenced by his music. Among the key contributors that help to place Mayfield's far-reaching influence into proper perspective are Johnny Pate (producer/arranger) -- who had helped craft the majority of the Impressions' hits as well as the Superfly (1972) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack -- and fellow Impressions' Fred Cash (vocals) and Sam Gooden (vocals). Decidedly more intimate portrayals and memories of the cultural icon at home as a father and husband via his wife Altheida Mayfield. In terms of his lasting effect on the community at large, Carlos Santana, Chuck D. and civil rights Ambassador Andrew Young all eagerly pay homage to their mentor, as well as musical and spiritual mentor. Plus, there are several insightful segments from interviews with the man himself from 1972, 1987 and 1988. As is true with any compendium of a legend, their canon of work should be the primary focus of attention. And it is with that mandate that Reelin' In The Years Productions have outdone even themselves. As the masterminds behind projects such as Dreams to Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding (2007) and the Stax/Volt Revue: Live in Norway 1967 (2007) that might seem practically unfathomable. More than anything else, Movin' On Up: (2008) is an audio/visual repository of classic Curtis Mayfield. Bandmates Cash and Gooden comment on the "People Get Ready" clip -- showing the trio lip-syncing in a boat for the September of '65 episode of the Dick Clark-produced Where The Action Is. Refreshingly, the vast majority of the tunes are done live— either in a front of a studio audience or a concert hall type setting. As for those cuts that are shown of the Impressions faking their own lead vocals as a tape or record spins in the background, "It's All Right," "I Need You," the aforementioned "People Get Ready" and "Meeting Over Yonder" have all been remastered and given a pristine audio track of the original recordings. Otherwise, the contents are spontaneous in front of the unblinking eyes of the camera. Transcendent are the unique versions of "We're A Winner" -- coupled with "Amen" from 1968. Clifton Davis joins up for a very special spoken recitation written especially to accompany the Impressions singing "This Is My Country". Equally inspired is "Choice Of Colors" from a 1969 guest spot on the Joey Bishop Show. Cash and Gooden confirm the infamous story that the Impressions were told that they were not going to be allowed to sing the tune on network television because of the racial implications. Literally minutes before going on the air, Bishop himself intervened and told the combo to play "Choice Of Colors" as planned. There is an abundance of 1970s footage. Top of the list are the extended concert renditions of "We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue" which is linked up with "Give Me Your Love," as well as the essential Superfly entries "Freddie's Dead," "Pusherman," "Eddie You Should Know Better" and, of course, the main theme itself "Superfly". Additionally, among the extras are complete performances of "We're A Winner," "Might Mighty (Spade and Whitey)," "We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue," "Move On Up," and "Freddie's Dead". Accompanying the DVD is a 28-page fact-filled booklet. The informative essay by Rob Bowman is surrounded by formerly unpublished photos from the Mayfield family's archives.