Pop Albums: Curtis Mayfield - New World Order

Warner Bros 9362-46348-2

Curtis Mayfield's first album since his paralysing accident is a typical blend of polemical steel and beatific soft-heartedness, though unsurprisingly, the latter is in the ascendant as he grows older. There's nothing wrong with that, although I could live without the crying baby on the title track and the weeping on "No One Knows About a Good Thing (You Don't Have to Cry)".

What's more worrying is that few of the newer songs can match the lyrical bite of his classic "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue", included here in a less earthy vein than on his 1971 solo debut: "We people who are darker than blue/ Don't let us hang around this town/ And let what others say come true". Only "Here But I'm Gone", a crack addict's blunt self- assessment, comes close to matching its impact. But for the most part, his attitude can best be summed up by "Back To Living Again", his duet with Aretha Franklin: "I don't want to hear about all that's bad/ Because all that's bad just makes me sad". And who could blame him?