Full title: Impressed: 24 Groups Inspired By The Impressions & Curtis Mayfield.
Performers include: The Expressions, Voice Masters, The Falcons, The Poets, The Climates, The Larks, The Marvellos, The Saints, Four Puzzles, The Mad Lads, The Brilliants, The Dontells, Detroit Emeralds, The Notations, The Sonics, The Manhattans, The Enjoyables.
Liner Note Author: Ady Croasdell.
Arrangers: Floyd Morris; Lincoln Mayorga; Miles Grayson; Rene Hall; Artie Butler; Sonny Sanders; Willie Mitchell; Riley Hampton.
Stars inspire imitation, and you don't have to be a musicologist to be familiar with a lot of songs and artists that have imitated singers and genres like Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Motown, Bob Dylan, and so forth. It's not always remembered, though, that some smaller-scale stars also inspired a surprising wealth of, if not exactly imitations, recordings that certainly owed a lot to a definite source. That's the concept behind this intriguing compilation, devoted to a couple dozen songs from the 1960s and early '70s that were blatantly or subtly influenced or inspired by the Impressions. None of the groups on this anthology were huge names, though some -- like the Astors, Larks, Detroit Emeralds, Manhattans, and Mad Lads -- had hits and were reasonably popular. Most, though, were no-names on indie labels big and small, creating smooth, group-vocalized soul that approximated the feel of familiar radio hits. What was missing? The vocals of Curtis Mayfield and the like, of course, but more importantly, songs as strong and immediately distinctive as "People Get Ready" or "We're a Winner." Still, if you're a fan of well-organized soul vocals and arrangements that fall on the slicker side of 1960s soul, this material is always competent, and sometimes (though not always) pretty respectable on its own grounds. And different phases of the Impressions are emulated, too: the Astors do a nice 1963 cut in the spirit of early Mayfield-Impressions Latin-tempoed efforts, "Just Enough to Hurt Me," while entries like the Marvellos' "In the Sunshine" are lush late-'60s productions. The Poets, represented by a 1965 single, would eventually evolve into the Main Ingredient. If the compilers had really wanted to be adventurous, they could have licensed a 1960s Jamaican reggae cut or two from the Wailers or others who showed a definite debt to the Impressions. The liner notes are a big plus since most of these groups (and certainly most of these cuts) are barely known. It seems like the 1962 date given for the Brilliants' track, though, has to be wrong: as the liners properly note, it bears similarity to "People Get Ready," a song that wasn't a hit until 1965. ~ Richie Unterberger
Living Blues (11/02, p.81) - "...A mighty potent tribute CD..."
Mojo (Publisher) (April 2002, p.124) - "...Presents evidence of the wide influence on the diaspora of '60s groups exerted by...The Impressions..."