Mindblowing work by The Impressions – a double-length set that's totally great! First up is the soundtrack for the Fred Williamson/
Jim Kelly action flick Three The Hard Way – not only a great soundtrack, but one of the best 70s albums by The Impressions! The set was written, arranged, and produced by the Curtom super-team of Rich Tufo and Lowrell Simon – and it's got a super-dope feel that reminds us of the work by Natural Four from the same time, with sweet harmonies over funky backings, in a hip 70s groove that's totally great! All cuts are vocal, but they have plenty of funky moments – and in a way, the whole album's as great as the lead track, which is normally the best one in a blacksploitation soundtrack like this. In other words, if you dig hit soundtrack theme songs like "Across 110th Street" or "Theme from Cleopatra Jones", you'll dig this entire album! Tracks include the great "Having A Ball", plus "Make A Resolution", "Something's Mighty Mighty Wrong", and "Three The Hard Way (Chase & Theme)". First Impressions is hardly the first album by The Impressions, despite the title – but a wonderful batch of modern soul tunes that proves that the group could groove long after Curtis Mayfield was gone! As with other Curtom gems from the 70s, the album has the group working with some really top-shelf help in the studio – production from Ed Townsend, who does a really great job of making the harmonies sparkle with a rich quality that really stands out – a mode that returns the group to the mellow brilliance of their 60s recordings, but still keeps some of the maturity they picked up along the way. Townsend also wrote most of the tracks on the set, with a confident male soul style that's not unlike the best love-heavy territory that Marvin Gaye
was exploring at the time – a perfect fit for the newly-refined vocals of the mid 70s quartet lineup that included original members Sam Gooden and Fred Cash, plus Ralph Johnson and Reggie Toran. Titles include the sublime "Groove", which has a nice two-step feel, and "Sooner Or Later", which is a nice mellow cut with an undercurrent of funk – and other tracks include "Old Before My Time", "Same Thing It Took", "I'm So Glad", and "How High Is High".