Musician and crate-digger extraordinaire Jeb Loy Nichols tells the stories behind the stops on his musical railroad, from a deep friendship with Adrian Sherwood and the heroes of Muscle Shoals that led to a love of bluegrass, country, reggae and soul
Curtis Mayfield - Sweet Exorcist
This is the man, and the record, that I put on when I feel swarmed on by the world. I could pick any one of his records. I could also pick a Merle Haggard record or a Sun Ra record or something by Hank Williams, but most often I pick Curtis. The depth and width of his ambition, his delicacy, his willingness to be fragile, his subtleness, his political questioning, his guitar playing, his songwriting, it's all perfect. Mary Clayton, the great soul singer, used to call everyone 'Two'. When asked why, she said: because Curtis is 'One'. I agree. To go from the funk of 'Kung Fu' and 'Make Me Believe In You' to the purity of To Be Invisible, is an incredible feat. I don't know if Sweet Exorcist is the best record he ever made, it's like asking what the best storm you ever saw was, or the best wave, or the best spring. Just know this: this is strong medicine; this is as real and as great as it gets.