Monday, November 24, 2014

Impressions, "It's All Right" (1963)

Oct. 12, 1963, #4

Here's the biggest single for the Impressions and for lead singer and songwriter Curtis Mayfield too, at least until his solo career got underway in the '70s and he matched the chart performance with "Freddie's Dead." But that was 1972 and this is 1963 and therein lies all the difference. In many ways you wouldn't even know it's the same artist. That was the year that gave us "Be My Baby," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Guantanamera," "In My Room," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Louie Louie," "Ring of Fire," and "Surfin' Bird," so it's easy to lose track of "It's All Right" in the shuffle. Built for comfort, it moves slow—"When lights are low / When you move it slow / It sounds like a motor," as the song explains—powered by luminous harmonies and inflected by a nagging guitar upstroke and the kindest horn section you may ever hear. It is at once earthly and celestial. "When you wake up early in the morning / Feeling sad like so many of us do," you will know just what to do, now that you are reminded of the existence of this song. It's pitched at such a simple level that when the handclaps start near the end they are amazingly effective—the rousing moral equivalent of a guitar solo. And there is always hope, that is what this song is here to tell us. It's about enduring. "Someday I'll find me a woman / Who will love and treat me real nice / Then my woe's got to go / And my love, she will know / From morning, noon, and night ... / ... whoa, it's all right." Aw yeah.

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