I grouped these two together because Curtis Mayfield wrote and produced these soundtracks in the space of a year! And who doesn’t love Pops Staples and Gladys Knight? I haven’t seen CLAUDINE but LET’S DO IT AGAIN is a great movie. -Ian!
The Claudine movie soundtrack sported the jammin’ million-selling single “On and On” by Gladys Knight & the Pips. Written and produced by Curtis Mayfield and featured in the classic 1974 family drama starring Diahann Carroll, James Earl Jones, and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (Welcome Back Kotter, Alien Nation, Cooley High), it parked at number two R&B for four weeks, going to number five Pop on Billboard’s charts in 1974. Claudine is the least celebrated of songwriter/producer Mayfield’s soundtrack albums (Superfly, Sparkle), though it’s the most poignant of them. “Mr. Welfare Man” lays out the dehumanizing effect of being on welfare, while still being enticing and majestic in its dynamic arrangement. As much airplay as the track garnered, oddly it was never released as a single. “To Be Invisible” spoke to a child character’s need to escape her depressing surroundings. Originally recorded by Mayfield on his Curtis LP, “The Makings of You” is a heart-tugging, strings-cushioned ballad that Knight sings wonderfully. Other LP tracks that received airplay are the upbeat, beautiful title track and the sweet “Make Yours a Happy Home,” which curiously wasn’t issued as a single until 1976. Claudine went gold, hitting number one on the R&B charts in summer 1974.
This is a must-have cd for fans of Curtis or the Staples Singers. It is a slight detour from most SS albums, in that this one is all about love, lust, and funky good timing. Curtis really teases out beautiful performances here, highlights include the smooth title track and the sexy workout “Funky Love.” I really love “New Orleans,” and was hoping it would get remade or re-noticed in the wake of Katrina. The song where it all works, though, is “I Want to Thank You,” where Curtis’s groove, funk, backbeat, and production meet the overtly spiritual nature of the lyrics (more traditional SS territory). A great album.
Ed Hogan, allmusic.com and some guy on amazon.com