With their gospel-soaked, sweet soul harmonies Chicago’s The Impressions proved to be one of the most influential African-American vocal groups of the 1960s. Led by Curtis Mayfield’s seraphic tenor voice and featuring the plaintive harmony vocals of Fred Cash and Sam Gooden, the group racked up an astonishing 29 Billboard R&B smashes between 1961 and 1969. What distinguished them from their rivals was their self-sufficiency in terms of songs – in Curtis Mayfield, the bespectacled ‘gentle genius,’ they had an articulate, profoundly perceptive writer whose message-laden material seemed to chronicle the life and times of black America in the Civil Rights era. This superlative 2-DVD documentary features contributions from Mayfield himself, along with Cash, Gooden and a host of luminaries – these include arranger, Johnny Pate, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Carlos Santana and politician Andrew Young, who claims “you hear in Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions the spiritual power of Dr Martin Luther King.” Interspersed between the spoken commentaries there’s plenty of rare footage of the group, taken from US TV. The second DVD focuses on Mayfield’s 70s solo canon (including lots of ‘Superfly’-era footage) when his work took on a more overt socio-political stance. This is a fabulous – and dare I say it, highly impressive – documentary about the trailblazing ’60s group and their leader. Mandatory viewing for soul collectors.