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The Independent Culture

Curtis Mayfield: New World Order (Warners, CD/LP/tape). There has been a slight whiff of condescension about some of the hyperbole this record has attracted: people weren't making so much fuss about the Superfly soul legend before he was paralysed in a horrific accident. It's not just physical incapacity that Curtis Mayfield has to do battle with. The unique quality of his voice - that intoxicating combination of frailty and strength - has to somehow make itself heard through the bedside babble of well- meaning helpers (Aretha Franklin, Narada Michael Walden, TLC-producers Organized Noize) and over disabling preconceptions of heroism against the odds. On highlights like the supple title-track and the potent, gangster- bashing "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue", it succeeds miraculously.