Smokey Robinson vs. Curtis Mayfield [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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09-07-2015, 12:06 PM
I recently ripped all my music to lossless for my home but with my recent purchase of a 2015 I realized I could now listen to ALL my music on a thumb drive. With the higher resolution MP3's now passing "double blind tests" with WAV and FLAC I decided it would be nice to have it all! In the process of converting everything over I began to notice how similar the career's of Smokey Robinson and Curtis Mayfield were. The more I thought about it the more I felt a compare was necessary... so here we go!

Longevity: Both wrote hits from the late 50's for themselves and others from the late 60's until the Curtis' untimely death. As for this category I rate them about EVEN

Output: The Songwriters Hall of Fame says Smokey wrote about 310 songs. The same source says Curtis wrote 320 songs. In that Curtis died in 1999 he gets the nod in that he's had the greater output in a shorter amount of time. Winner CURTIS

Chops: Both men had distinctive falsetto voices. Curtis' was more soulful but Smokey's was smoother an seemed effortless. Vocal chops goes to Smokey. Winner SMOKEY

Sex Appeal: Smoky was sex incarnate. Girls never swooned over Curtis. Winner SMOKEY

Hits: This was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Each man wrote hits by the bushels and it's hard to choose which one wrote the bigger ones. Smokey penned "My Girl", "My Guy", "Ohh Baby Baby" "Tears of a Clown" , "Second That Emotion" "Goin' to A Go Go" "Mickey's Monkey" and many more

Curtis penned "People Get Ready", "Gypsy Woman", "Monkey Time", and dozens of other hits.... and let's not forget the "Superfly" Soundtrack. Looking at both men's total song list, I give the nod to Curtis. Winner CURTIS

Social Significance: Curtis hands down, he was the Soundtrack to the civil rights movement. "Move on Up" "We're Winner", "Keep on Pushin", "People Get Ready" and "Amen" defined the era and the movement. And he got even more relevant as he aged. "Choice of Colors", "This is My Country". Winner CURTIS

Musical Influence: Early reggae is replete with Curtis Covers... His influence on The Wailers and all of reggae is undeniable. Winner CURTIS

Other Media: Curtis' movie soundtracks "Claudine", "Superfly", "Sparkle" etc... give him this one hands down.

When all is said and done, I have to give Curtis Mayfield the nod over Smokey. Both are double inductees in the RnR Hall of Fame and both are part of the fabric of my life. Still it's Curtis I love the best.


Finch Platte
09-07-2015, 05:57 PM
Nice research and thread, but Tears Of A Clown usurps all.

Mr Peabody
09-07-2015, 06:37 PM
I'd have to say Smokie based on I could list some of his songs where I couldn't from Curtis except for the Super Fly thing. So was Smokie more commercially successful, or, was it he had more crossover hits, those that would be played on mainstream radio opposed to just R&B?

Good info

Just a side question, Worf, do you have any Terry Callier? I have to credit Frenchmon for turning me onto him, I've got two of his albums so far.

09-08-2015, 12:30 PM
Peabody hit the nail on the head Worf, but even Smokey's successful cross over was the deals Barry Gordy had made with thousands of Radio stations to play Motown recordings.

Both are superstars in the R&B genre, but Smokeys' appeal to the mainstream media will give him the node in most camps.

09-08-2015, 08:06 PM
The Motown Media Machine is partially responsible for the fact that most folks don't know Curtis Mayfield's name. Berry's moxie and money opened a lot of doors that Curtis couldn't when he founded Curtom Records. Plus Motown got a lot more crossover play. Curtis was also huge in England. But as a singer/songwriter I have to give him the nod.