Kill City helped bridge Iggy Pop’s musical career from the drug-fueled and blazing rock of the Stooges (Raw Power, etc.) to his artier (but just as influential and passionate) David Bowie-produced solo albums (The Idiot and Lust for Life). After the Stooges broke up for good in 1974, Iggy (who was depressed, suicidal, and addicted to hard drugs) checked himself into a mental hospital to straighten out. When he emerged sober, Iggy hooked up with ex-Stooges guitarist James Williamson and began collaborating on demos. The duo tried to land a record contract on the strength of the compositions, but failed to do so. Although it’s not as jaw-dropping as the releases listed above, Kill City certainly has its moments. And surprisingly, the songs sound more like laid-back Stones rockers than what the duo was known for at the time (which was barely containable near-heavy metal). There are a couple of Stooges leftovers (“Johanna” and “I Got Nothin”) which lack the bite of the originals, but make up for it in Iggy’s heartfelt vocals. The title track opens the album, with the lyrics painting a picture of a desperate and dangerous metropolis, and musically is the closest to the classic Stooges sound. Iggy and James’ admiration of Jagger and Richards shows on the tracks “Sell Your Love,” “Lucky Monkeys,” and the instrumental “Night Theme.” Also, synthesizers and keyboards are featured on “Master Charge,” signaling the new direction Iggy would soon embark on. Also included are informative liner notes which do a good job of showing where Iggy’s head was at during his mid-’70s, refocusing period. An interesting release, worthy of belonging in any Stooges/Iggy fan’s collection.
-Greg Prato, allmusic.com
Iggy Pop & James Williamson-KILL CITY (1977)
Never Say You Can’t Survive was the last Curtis Mayfield album done in a pure soul vein for the next three years — its style and sound place it in a direct continuity with the rest of his output right back to 1958. The singing on love songs such as “Show Me Love,” “Just Want to Be With You,” and “When We’re Alone” is among the most achingly lyrical and passionate of his career. The title track boasts ravishing backup singing by Kitty & the Haywoods (who also perform outstandingly on “I’m Gonna Win Your Love”) and a beautiful arrangement by James Mack. The album’s final track, “Sparkle” (written for Sam O’Steen’s movie of the same name, starring Philip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara, and Lonette McKee), gets one of three distinct treatments that the song ever received (the others from the soundtrack and Aretha Franklin’s version).
-Bruce Eder, allmusic.com
Curtis Mayfield-NEVER SAY YOU CAN’T SURVIVE (1977)
They say that Curtis Mayfield fell off after he released his 4th studio album “back to the world” in 1973. *They*, as Uma Thurman quipped in Pulp Fiction, talk a lot, don’t they? They certainly do and in this case it seems that the “they” in question talk through their backsides as this here album is a genuine lost gem for both Mayfield and Blaxploitation soundtrack devotees.
“Short eyes”, his 1977 soundtrack to the flick of the same name, was released at a time when fellow heavyweights such as James Brown and Isaac Hayes had fallen victim to over-polished disco kitschness and, thus, surely must stand as one of the last great 70s soul/funk albums as it’s drenched in everything that makes those first 4 Mayfield albums so damn good : that sweet falsetto almost as a ringmaster to the rest of the proceedings; commanding the dirty funked up wah-wah guitar, lush arrangements, heartstopping strings, wailing double-tracked backing vocals and trippy backwards fx to do backflips and weave their way in and out of macked-out horns and throbbing bass grooves (no homo!) while crisp snares and reverberating bongos underline the whole experience.
The bizarrely monikered “Do do wap is strong in here” is probably the most well known song here as it tends to appear on yer standard Mayfield best ofs.., funk compilations and has been heavily sampled by hip hop producers and, while it is possibly the finest composition here, the rest of the album is equally as stellar. The title track is as instantly thrilling and unforgettable a theme as any other notable Blaxpolitation title track you can name and the rest of the album is a miscegenation of fuzzed-up Chicago blues-funk and rich soulful arrangements, usually in the same song. Business as usual, then.
A must for all Mayfield fans and i’d say it’s slightly better overall than “back to the world” and up there with “curtis”, “superfly” and “roots”. Of course there has to be a catch involved with something this good that’s somehow managed to thwart reappraisal by funk-fans, the breakbeat generation and the NYC/Chicago hipsterati set until now : not domestically available here in America you can only find this on import vinyl or as part of a now deleted double-disc 90s reissue of “superfly”, both of which will set you back at least $40. It’s an album that’s quality justifies such a hefty price tag if you’ve searched hell and highwater and still can’t find it cheaper but, really, let’s have a remastered cd reissue of this, please.
Curtis Mayfield-SHORT EYES (1977 OST)
I’m really excited about Gil Scott-Heron returning with this CRAZY SCOTT WALKER’S “THE DRIFT” SOUNDING ALBUM. Holy moly, talk about out of left field. -Ian!
Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson, and the Midnight Band take a slightly different approach with their 1977 effort, Bridges. With less of the gaping and world-infused sound prevalent on previous albums, the songs are more concise and Scott-Heron comes into his own as a singer depending less on his spoken word vocal style. This album may not be one of his better-known releases (the long out of print LP is slated to make it’s CD debut in the fall of 2001), but the excellent songwriting exposes Scott-Heron at the height of his powers as a literary artist.
Air sampled this on some album I haven’t heard yet.
The social, political, cultural, and historical themes are presented in a tight funk meets jazz meets blues meets rock sound that is buoyed by Jackson’s characteristic keyboard playing and the Midnight Band’s colorful arrangements. Scott-Heron’s ability to make the personal universal is evident from the opening track, “Hello Sunday! Hello Road!,” all the way through to the gorgeous “95 South (All of the Places We’ve Been).” The most popular cut on the album, “We Almost Lost Detroit,” which shares its title with the John G. Fuller book published in 1975, recounts the story of the nuclear meltdown at the Fermi Atomic Power Plant near Monroe, MI, in 1966. This song was also contributed to the No Nukes concert and album in 1980. Along with the two records that would follow in the late 70s, Bridges stands as one of Scott-Heron’s most enjoyable and durable albums.
-Jeff Schwachter, allmusic.com
Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson-BRIDGES (1977)