Friday, February 17, 2006

Flotsam, jetsam and Curtom

Play it: Curtom Records

Last week I was alerted by the illustrious J Shifty of the treasure trove of material that washed up on the shores of the Rhapsody library recently, was much of the Curtom Records library (owned now by Rhino.) Since we love indie record labels, and it's black history month, Curtom Records is a good fit for a playlist/profile.

Curtis Mayfield started Curtom Records when he left The Impressions to go solo in 1970, and his first batch of solo releases (Curtis, Roots, and Superfly) on that imprint are the cream of the crop as far as soul goes. Consequently, Curtom was the most important black-owned record label of the 1970's. Curtom Records initially got off the ground so well because of Mayfield's experience as the staff producer on the famous Chi-town OKeh label, and he knew to surround him with talented people like Dony Hathaway and Leroy Hutson. Hathaway worked on staff as a musician, singer and songwriter, while Hutson (who took Mayfield's spot in The Impressions) was given his own imprint (Gemigo) on the label as an outlet for his activities as a producer and arranger.

Other artists on the label included the tragic Baby Huey (born James Ramey) who died of a drug overdose before his album was even released. His backing band, The Babysitters, continued on oddly enough with a teen-aged Chaka Khan taking over his vocal duties (Baby Huey and the Babysitters continue to perform, at a Bar Mitzvah near you.)

Linda Clifford was Miss New York State at one time, and recorded six albums on Curtom, with "Runaway Love" as her biggest hit (peaked at number three on the R&B charts, 1978.)

Other acts include The Natural Four (who were produced by LeRoy Hutson,) The Five Stairsteps, Ed Townshend (co-wrote "Let's Get it On,") Billy Butler (younger brother to the great Jerry "Ice Man" Butler,) Mavis Staples, The Staple Singers, and of course, The Impressions.

Discography of the Curtom Label
The Curtom Story is an import-only 51-song double CD on Charly Records.

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drake leLane said...

Curtom Records

* "The Makings Of You" - Curtis Mayfield
* "Lucky Fellow" - Leroy Hutson
* "Baby Make Me Feel So Good" - The Five Stairsteps
* "Hard Times" - Baby Huey
* "Mighty Mighty [Spade & Whitey]" - The Impressions
* "You Bring Out The Best In Me" - The Natural Four
* "Runaway Love [Album Version]" - Linda Clifford
* "If You Can't Take Me Higher" - Ed Townsend
* "I Know the Feeling Well" - Billy Butler
* "So In Love" - Curtis Mayfield

J Shifty said...

Hi ho. Thanks for the nod and the edification! And of course also for distilling a fine listen of a list.