A Gentle Genius

A new box set chronicles the crucial quadrant of studio albums comprising Curtis Mayfield’s first five years as a solo artist

Curtis Mayfield Keep On Keeping On: Studio Albums 1970-1974, Rhino 2019

Curtis Mayfield is back. But then again, he never really left, did he?

To further prove the point of his permanence in the fabric of modern music, the soul legend, singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and activist’s work from 1970-1974 — his first four studio albums — has been remastered and released in a box set entitled KEEP ON KEEPING ON: CURTIS MAYFIELD STUDIO ALBUMS 1970-1974.

There are very few soul artists who have had the impact and influence on music and society that Mayfield has, both as a solo artist and as a member of The Impressions. Known as the “Gentle Genius,” the two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s career started at the young age of 14, when he joined The Impressions. For the next fourteen years of his life, he sang, wrote and toured with the group, and was responsible for their hit, “People Get Ready.”



KEEP ON KEEPING ON picks up where The Impressions left off, compiling Mayfield’s first four solo albums on four LPs. His debut album, Curtis, topped the Pop Albums charts, and singles “(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go” and “Move On Up” were hits in the U.S. and the U.K., a massive feat for a record containing stark social commentary set to a raging rhythm and brass section, Mayfield wailing above it all. Artists like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder would follow suit in coming years, but Mayfield — and his funky, soul-infused vocals and poignant lyricism — blazed the path.

Curtis Mayfield Curtis, Curtom 1970

“Curtis Mayfield was my husband, and we were a team, so it’s an especially happy occasion to see these songs featured in a new boxed set on what would be Curtis’ 50th anniversary as a solo artist,” his wife, Altheida Mayfield, said. “He passed 20 years ago this year, and the family has and continues to lovingly support and share his musical legacy with the world.”

Though known worldwide for three more albums that reached the tops of the charts in as many years — Roots, Back to the World, and Sweet Exorcist — countless hits, and massive success on the soundtrack of Super Fly, Mayfield’s legacy extended far beyond the radio. The Curtis Mayfield Foundation, a nonprofit founded by his family to preserve and celebrate the Grammy Award winner’s six-decade involvement in music and the civil rights movement, partnered with the Songwriters Hall of Fame and performing arts high schools in Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles to create a series of scholarships and to support music education in high schools across the country.

Curtis Mayfield Sweet Exorcist, Curtom 1974

KEEP ON KEEPING ON: CURTIS MAYFIELD STUDIO ALBUMS 1970-1974 is now available for purchase and streaming everywhere. For more information, click here.




Curtis (1970)

  1. “(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go”
  2. “The Other Side Of Town”
  3. “The Makings Of You”
  4. “We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue”
  5. “Move On Up”
  6. “Miss Black America”
  7. “Wild And Free”
  8. “Give It Up”


Roots (1971)

  1. “Get Down”
  2. “Keep On Keeping On”
  3. “Underground”
  4. “We Got To Have Peace”
  5. “Beautiful Brother Of Mine”
  6. “Now You’re Gone”
  7. “Love To Keep You In My Mind”
Curtis Mayfield Back to the World, Curtom 1973

Back to the World (1973)

  1. “Back To The World”
  2. “Future Shock”
  3. “Right On For The Darkness”
  4. “Future Song (Love A Good Woman, Love A Good Man)”
  5. “If I Were Only A Child Again”
  6. “Can’t Say Nothin'”
  7. “Keep On Trippin'”


Sweet Exorcist (1974)

  1. “Ain’t Got Time”
  2. “Sweet Exorcist”
  3. “To Be Invisible”
  4. “Power To The People”
  5. “Kung Fu”
  6. “Suffer”
  7. “Make Me Believe In You”


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Luci Turner

Born on the Okefenokee Swamp and raised on rock 'n roll, Luci Turner is a full-time musician and writer whose passion for music led her to Atlanta. She's most often found packing a suitcase, digging through a pile of records, or looking for a time machine to the 70s. Follow her on Twitter @luciturner95.

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