It was 1970 when Curtis Mayfield left R&B group The Impressions, to set off on his own solo path. What followed was a rich and highly celebrated career, during which Mayfield produced some of the most influential R&B, soul, funk, and gospel recordings of all time. Along with Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, Mayfield is credited with helping to ring in a new era of socially-aware funk and soul music, all while raking in numerous Billboard-charting hits both as a performer and a songwriter. Though he died in 1999, he left behind a vast legacy of innovation and long-lasting music, and has been ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Artists of all-time.
Coming hot on the heels of his powerhouse hit soundtrack for the film Superfly was 1973’s Back To The World. Mayfield’s music always had a socially-conscious and political bent to it, but the tracks on Back To The World cranked this conceit up to an even higher degree, largely inspired the increasingly industrial world around him, and the social and environmental concerns that followed it. (The album’s lead single “Future Shock” was named for an Alvin Toffler book on the subject.) Though not the smash commercial success of his previous efforts, Back To The World still landed in the Billboard Top 20, and is considered an underrated, and overlooked entry in the soul innovator’s catalog.