The Impressions – 1968 – We’re A Winner / This Is My Country

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Curtis is easily and rightly recognized as one of the principal architects of soul music. He developed such distinctive styles out of his gospel backgrounds, that in turn contributed greatly to the shaping of black music in general, both acting as a member of The Impressions and later running his own solo career.

The Impressions – 1968 – We’re A Winner

A new level of pride and power for The Impressions  as you might guess from the bold statement of the title track! It may seem hard to believe from the perspective of the 21st Century, but back in the mid 60s, a message like “We’re A Winner” was quite a strong one — a new anthem of righteous identity that was one of the first truly political statements from a young Curtis Mayfield, and a great precursor of the genius to come in the 70s! But even at this early state, there’s still plenty of genius going on  not just in Mayfield’s sublime songwriting, but also in the harmonies of the group, and the beautiful treatment they get in the studio from arranger Johnny Pate. The album’s one of their key classics from the ABC years.

Tracks
A1   We’re A Winner (2:22)
A2   Moonlight Shadows (3:08)
A3   Let Me Tell The World (3:10)
A4   I’m Getting Ready (2:30)
A5   Nothing Can Stop Me (2:40)
B1   No One To Love Me (2:30)
B2   Little Brown Baby (2:35)
B3   I Loved And I Lost (3:10)
B4   Romancing To The Folk Song (2:35)
B5   Up Up And Away (2:55)

Review by Groovy Emmanuel

In 1968 The Impressions were an already ten years veteran group, and that year proved to be their most successful with the release of their final album for ABC “We’re A Winner” and the formation of Curtis’ new label Curtom Records. And what a turning point that was! The motto “We’re A Winner” was to be printed under the word “Curtom” on the label ever since, and The Impressions were the first artists to be signed.

But more important were the songs. Deeply humanistic songs that represented strongly the highest ideals and aspiration of African Americans, songs delivered to underline the power of love, pride, respect and self-achievement in their daily lives in American society. The hit single “We’re A Winner” with its driving funky beat, inspired by the civil rights movement, stands proudly as a strong demand in these changing times for African Americans in asserting themselves as equal human beings in American society, despite the fact that black radio didn’t really support it back then! In Curtis’ own words: «That was a song locked in with Martin Luther King, and easily could have caused the controversy, but it was a song with an inspiring message, and that wasn’t really what radio was all about in those times.». But what can we say then about “I Love And I Lost“, the album’s other hit single. A fine ballad for sure.

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Download Link We’re A Winner

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The Impressions – 1968 – This Is My Country

This Is My Country has The Impressions wearing their politics much more on their sleeve than before  with a cover that shows them standing in the rubble of the ghetto, and a title that is both a bold proclamation of ownership, and a sad comment on the state of affairs. Curtis Mayfield’s pen is in perfect form here, and the group hits that perfect mix of sweet soul and politics that make these late 60s efforts some of their (and Curtis’) strongest work, with harmonies that far surpass the earlier years, and which still kind of make us wish that Curtis hadn’t gone solo, because we just love the sound of his sweet raspy voice next to the deeper style of Fred Cash.

Tracks
A1   They Don’t Know (2:45)
A2   Stay Close To Me (2:02)
A3   I’m Loving Nothing (2:27)
A4   Loves Happening (3:07)
A5   Gone Away (3:42)
B1   You Want Somebody Else (3:10)
B2   So Unusual (2:55)
B3   My Woman’s Love (2:58)
B4  Fool For You (2:50)
B5   This Is My Country (2:47)

Review by Groovy Emmanuel

And then The Impressions moved to Curtom. It was summer of 68. And yes. it was “This Is My Country” LP and some more big “message” songs. Curtis’s own words yet again: «This Is My Country just spoke straight out as to the prior years of being a black man and relating to it just inspiringly but strong as to how I felt in reference to my country and how I’d earned it. Earned the right to say, “This is my country!!». And that is the documentation right here. Gospel roots turning blue, turning proud, turning self-consciousness!

Musically, this is the transformation of one man singing gospel into a three-part switch-off lead, in other words how one man singing lead is able to incorporate into the blend of the group. How everyone comes out and sings in harmony a portion of the lead part, and consequently how a only three-man group can sound as a five-man piece unit or even more. And The Impressions were unique in just doing this perfectly, and all these under some magnificent arrangements by the great Johnny Pate.

Overall, “We’re A Winner” signalled the beginning of a significant political phase (at least in the field of self-consciousness, if it’s ever gonna be.) which in fact began with “This Is My Country” lp and continued with “The Young Mod’s Forgotten Story” lp (to be found here). Changing times for sure. In 1970 Curtom released the last Impressions lp to feature Curtis “Check Out Your Mind”. Later that year Leroy Hutson was to become the new lead singer for the group and the first album from this new line-up was to be titled “Times Have Changed”.. Oh dear, what a story!

Download Link This is My Country

 

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41 Comments
  • rich
    Posted at 21:37h, 13 January 2009 Reply

    great post nikos and great review groovy emmanuel u doing an awesome job here.

  • Donald Moyet
    Posted at 21:42h, 13 January 2009 Reply

    These are such beautiful and moving albums.
    Strong spiritual message without beating you over the head with any particular denomination or creed. It gets me right in the heart.
    What a brilliant songwriter Mayfield was.

  • Sanford
    Posted at 01:38h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Those were the days of hope and promise..peace to all humankind. Music is the best way to spread the word. Call me cynical but it’s a pity the politicians didn’t listen to these songs back then.

  • invisiblenigma
    Posted at 03:54h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Two Great ones by the Impressions. I must say I’m Impressed. As Always Much Thanks!!

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 03:59h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    omg….up up and away..that song remind me so much….dude once again ..thanks 4 all thoses gems jean paris

  • robert
    Posted at 04:27h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Two absolutely stunning albums. Great post, Nikos.

  • ahawk
    Posted at 06:29h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Many thanks Nikos for this brilliant music 🙂

  • Victor
    Posted at 08:46h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Political songwriting straight out of the black power movement! Brilliant stuff, thanks for sharing it with the world and introducing a new generation of music-lovers to Curtis Mayfield.

  • E-mile
    Posted at 09:22h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    nikos, I already have these, great stuff, excellent post (as always:-)
    peace, E-mile

  • Krisch
    Posted at 10:34h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Thanks!

  • Axel
    Posted at 14:06h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    One of my favourite groups of all time – Brilliant post.

  • onejazzyman
    Posted at 15:12h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Curtis Mayfield was way before his time and gone too soon. Thanks for these contributions to his legacy!

  • k02
    Posted at 16:25h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Thanks Nikos.

  • Trakbuv
    Posted at 18:05h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Was it 1968 ? – wow, so far ahead of the game both vocally and politically. I was always impressed (!) at how such a delicate human being with a brittle voice could make such a roar !! Absolutely magnificent. Fabulous heartfelt words from Groovy too – these LPs are clearly definining moments for you. Thanks again Nikos for reminding us all what’s it all about.

  • hooch
    Posted at 18:10h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    thanks nikos!

  • Ryan
    Posted at 21:39h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    Respect for Curtis!!! Love the Impressions!

  • Cody B
    Posted at 21:23h, 14 January 2009 Reply

    The promise of these records takes one more step to being true in about a weeks time. Beautiful.

  • jeremy
    Posted at 10:09h, 15 January 2009 Reply

    Some of the best soul albums of the 60’s! King Curtis.

  • Soul is the Music
    Posted at 11:31h, 15 January 2009 Reply

    Growing up in the 60s this group was right there with us. Through our turbulent times and our good times. Their music was great and their messages said a lot. What talent they had. Gypsy Woman, Amen, People Get Ready, We’re A Winner, Woman’s Got Soul, and at least another half dozen or so. I really enjoy listening to them who wouldn’t.

  • carlitos
    Posted at 12:23h, 15 January 2009 Reply

    Thanx,you made my day ,i’ve been looking for some Impressions for a long time.Rellay love your work digging and sharing.Thanx again my friend

  • jose a.
    Posted at 13:41h, 15 January 2009 Reply

    these are two of my all time favourite albums, great songs, exuberant production, incredible voices, what more can i say?

  • Edward Smith
    Posted at 14:43h, 15 January 2009 Reply

    All I can say is AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Today’s young people don’t have a clue!

  • Arthur
    Posted at 21:37h, 15 January 2009 Reply

    Awesome, downloaded the two :D.
    Damn “I Loved And I Lost” sounds so familiar, i think some hip-hop song sampled it

  • Seth
    Posted at 21:44h, 15 January 2009 Reply

    WOW THIS GREAT,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • Yohan
    Posted at 10:59h, 16 January 2009 Reply

    Thanks for those classic wonderful releases.

  • Andrew
    Posted at 14:20h, 16 January 2009 Reply

    Never heard too much of The Impressions. It seems its my mistake.Thanks for sharing!

  • manny
    Posted at 00:06h, 17 January 2009 Reply

    thanks for posting

  • Tim
    Posted at 00:23h, 17 January 2009 Reply

    I grew up listening to soul groups like the Impressions and I’ve never been disappointed. Their Curtis Mayfield period is amazing.

  • jaguar
    Posted at 21:29h, 17 January 2009 Reply

    2 excellent LPs.

    Many thanks.

  • John Stansfield
    Posted at 23:58h, 17 January 2009 Reply

    Thank you for these long-awaited records.

  • fooliver
    Posted at 20:54h, 18 January 2009 Reply

    Thx Nikos. Great work!!!

  • escapista
    Posted at 13:31h, 19 January 2009 Reply

    thanks for the hreat post. yasou, niko

  • eric
    Posted at 19:15h, 20 January 2009 Reply

    Once again you representin’ with that smooveness FMS!!! Thanks!

  • johnv
    Posted at 05:31h, 25 January 2009 Reply

    Your blog continues to amaze–thanks for both of these amazing Impressions albums.

  • blah
    Posted at 22:40h, 03 February 2009 Reply

    thanks so much for your sharing! 🙂

  • Mr sam
    Posted at 00:44h, 01 March 2009 Reply

    Thank you again and again and again.

  • InkInThePen
    Posted at 14:47h, 03 June 2009 Reply

    “We’re a Winner” Lp is truly a winner!!! Awesome! Thanks 🙂

  • jm
    Posted at 02:21h, 14 January 2010 Reply

    soooo nice

  • Jan
    Posted at 21:13h, 22 March 2010 Reply

    Thank you for this nice album, it’s beautiful music. Thankx

  • stephphs
    Posted at 23:32h, 21 December 2012 Reply

    thanks for that !

  • Topaz Bon
    Posted at 03:02h, 29 November 2015 Reply

    Fantastic Post, and Curtis the gentle genius! Two fantastic oh so soulful albums. Thank you!

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