This is our third CD by the Impressions featuring two original ABC Paramount albums on one CD. The first two were THE IMPRESSIONS (ABC 450) / THE NEVER ENDING IMPRESSIONS (ABC 468) - CDKEND 126 and KEEP ON PUSHING (ABC 493) / PEOPLE GET READY (ABC 505) - CDKEND 130.
The first album on ABC demonstrates that crucial period in the history of soul music where doo wop segues into what we now call "The Birth of Soul" (see CDKEND 123 & CDKEND 147). Their previous Vee-Jay material shows the same youthful innocence in Curtis' songwriting as many of the songs on the first ABC album. The difference lies in the groundbreaking arrangements created by Johnny Pate. His work with the Impressions and others is recognised as one of the keystones on which "uptown" soul music was built.
The first taste of a change in direction in Curtis' songwriting came with It's All Right, their biggest pop hit. This showed the first inklings of Curtis' famous anthems to black awareness that were to reach fruition in the third and fourth albums with Keep On Pushing and People Get Ready. The second album in many ways reflected a regression from what was to come, with its sprinkling of standards blended in with Curtis' more romantic side, such as the splendour of I'm So Proud.
With the fifth album there is a return to standards with just a few Curtis-penned gems. It's as though they were practising for the supper club circuit in case the hits dried up! Thankfully Curtis' songwriting skills were so powerful that the hits never did dry up and his songs are still revered to this day. Fortunately Johnny Pate's arrangements are so scintillating and Curtis' unique soaring falsetto so alluring that even the old chestnuts sound great. Sandwiched in between the standards is one of Curtis' most underrated songs Just One Kiss From You.
Finally to the sixth album we have a return to all Curtis material with a difference. Here you have new songs such as Ridin' High and Too Slow coupled with many songs made hits by others, now sung by Curtis himself, with lots of that special guitar sound only Curtis can play. In an interview with Alan Warner he explained how he re-tuned the guitar to suit himself as he preferred it to the standard tuning.
We have two more original albums to come with THE FABULOUS IMPRESSIONS (ABC 606) and WE'RE A WINNER (ABC 635) where Curtis' full crossover into black consciousness reached fruition and took him on to his famous solo recordings.
ABC released a final album called THE VERSATILE IMPRESSIONS which contained a selection of previously unreleased material. We are hoping to release a last CD mopping up all the unreleased material and other sides that did not make it to albums.
by Trevor Churchill