This entry in my newly-semi-regular CC Vinyl series is the sleeve for The Impressions’ early 1966 album Ridin’ High with slick pasted slightly askew. The Impressions was a group out of Chicago led by one of my favourite artists; Curtis Mayfield. That’s him on the Cobra.
Mayfield’s Cobra was a 1965 427-equipped CSX-numbered monster. Sam Gooden (l) and Fred Cash had to make do with pre-427 Corvettes, a subtle nod to the hierarchy within the group. Although The Impressions recorded out of Chicago, this pic brings to mind an excerpt from a Mojo Magazine article discussing Detroit’s Motown label;
‘The label even operated a protocol involving the type of car you owned. “You weren’t allowed to have certain cars until you reached a certain level,” explains keyboard player Johnny Griffith. “It was like a class system. If a musician bought a Cadillac before it was considered proper, they’d stop calling you on sessions for a while. Every weekend I’d fly somewhere to do a session, and I’d have me a Cadillac convertible waiting at the airport. When I came back home, I drove an old Buick.”‘ – Ben Edmonds, Mojo March 1999.
Curtis was prolific, writing for The Impressions, Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers, Baby Huey and others, as well as having a brilliant solo career. His most complete album was the Super Fly soundtrack, which does not qualify for CC Vinyl due to my entirely arbitrary rule that a car must feature on the sleeve and, alas, this evocative artwork above was not used on the cover. He wrote the lyrics in counterpoint to the movie’s exploitative narrative and placed them over plaintive melodic soul. If you’re looking for a Curtis Mayfield starter album, this is the one.
For now, I’ll leave you with a track from Ridin’ High called ‘Too Slow’. Stick it on play and enjoy while I redirect you to CC.