9 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Natural Four’s eponymous 1974 album is one of the great lost classics of harmony soul, largely forgotten in spite of its Lifesavers-colored album cover. The effort was a proud product of Curtom, the label and production team founded in Chicago by Curtis Mayfield. Like everything produced for Curtom, the single “Can This Be Real?” bears the angelically soft touch of Mayfield’s hand, although the album was in fact overseen by Mayfield’s protégé Leroy Hutson, a musical mastermind in his own right. Like Hutson’s own albums from the same period, the Natural Four LP is masterfully conceived from top to bottom and includes little touches that make the songs unique: a murmuring guitar on “Love That Really Counts,” the forward motion of a reggae rhythm on “This Is What’s Happening Now.” This should be considered not only one of the greatest Chicago sweet soul albums, but a work of depth and maturity both in terms of lyrical and musical content. Don’t let the Lifesavers colors fool you, as they have so many before.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Natural Four’s eponymous 1974 album is one of the great lost classics of harmony soul, largely forgotten in spite of its Lifesavers-colored album cover. The effort was a proud product of Curtom, the label and production team founded in Chicago by Curtis Mayfield. Like everything produced for Curtom, the single “Can This Be Real?” bears the angelically soft touch of Mayfield’s hand, although the album was in fact overseen by Mayfield’s protégé Leroy Hutson, a musical mastermind in his own right. Like Hutson’s own albums from the same period, the Natural Four LP is masterfully conceived from top to bottom and includes little touches that make the songs unique: a murmuring guitar on “Love That Really Counts,” the forward motion of a reggae rhythm on “This Is What’s Happening Now.” This should be considered not only one of the greatest Chicago sweet soul albums, but a work of depth and maturity both in terms of lyrical and musical content. Don’t let the Lifesavers colors fool you, as they have so many before.

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