http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/4d3b83e4c7d14449bfbd976a1fde7a31405e61eb.jpg Sweet Exorcist

Curtis Mayfield

Sweet Exorcist

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
August 1, 1974

Like many an overextended or depleted artist, Mayfield has dug into his past for material for this album, which sounds hastily conceived and then competently executed to meet some contractual deadline. Four of the seven tunes were written prior to 1971, during the time Mayfield was trying to find himself as a solo artist. "To Be Invisible" comes from the Claudine soundtrack, which Mayfield recently wrote and produced for Gladys Knight and the Pips. The very titles of the two new numbers, "Kung Fu" and "Sweet Exorcist," signal the lack of invention.

Mayfield has run into the same problems that marred his first three albums. Without a clear focus, a Superfly or a Claudine character to identify with, Mayfield goes off in a hundred different directions — peace, ecology, divorce, future shock — always ponderously. His love songs come out curiously detached and abstract, and consequently monotonous.

He'll sacrifice anything for a rhyme: "Don't put yourself in solitude / Who can I trust with my life?/When people tend to be so rude!"

Some of his conceits are particularly silly: "My momma borned me in a ghetto! / But no, she couldn't call me Jesus/I wasn't white enough, she said / And then she named me Kung Fu."

The music is competently routine. Almost all of it is in the Superfly boogie-down mold, but without the extras that made the best Superfly cuts stand out. The hustler hero of the movie seemed to inspire a vitality in his singing which is missing here. As are the searing tenor sax/violin charts he and Johnny Pate wrote for the soundtrack. As is the melodic inventiveness of the best Superfly cuts.

All that's left is Mayfield's basic competence in using the studio. At this point, the Superfly-derived material the Motown writers have been coming up with for Eddie Kendricks is far superior to what Mayfield can come up with.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Whoomp! (There It Is)”

    Tag Team | 1993

    Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

    More Song Stories entries »