[12] Curtis Mayfield, ‘Superfly’

Curtis Mayfield

You have to hand it to ‘Superfly’: it walks the walk. Few records – even amid the heap of dapper soul from the early 70s – exhibit this sort of swagger, and a still more exclusive number do it while weighed down by a title of such expectation. ‘Superfly’ is superfly. It doesn’t so much start as lean in. Curtis, steel within silk, eases over brass stabs and wakka-wakka guitar, apparently putting in the graft of a Dimitar Berbatov, while we pop our earphones on and pimp-roll through Charing Cross station.

Obviously, Junior thinks Mayfield’s bigging up an insect with awesome powers – but she catches the real sense; the sense that makes swing her hips and put up the customary two thumbs in honour of this cat of the slum.

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[6] The Charlatans, ‘North Country Boy’

Junior was laughing again with this one. Coincidentally, I was singing. She rocked from side to side, like a chubby metronome, and was at one with The Charlatans’ good-time bluster. It’s a joyous record, sung with a smile on its lips. Their run of great singles was coming to an end, but it had been a cracking few years.

With this single, their Dylan passion was made flesh. The title’s a riff on ‘Girl From The North Country’, the sleeve’s a pastiche of Nashville Skyline’s, even Tim Burgess’s phrasing is the culmination of years of botched impressions.

Burgess has always been one for a bit of hero worship, from the Stone Roses through Dylan to, in recent years, Curtis Mayfield. He’s not gone as far as breaking his spine, though. Charlatan.