Saturday, March 29, 2014

52 Greatest Hits (1975) Al Green



1. Tired Of Being Alone
2. Call Me (Come Back Home)
3. I'm Still In Love With You
4. Here I Am (Come And Take Me)
5. Love And Happiness
6. Let's Stay Together
7. I Can't Get Next To You
8. You Ought To Be With me
9. Look What You Done For Me
10. Let's Get Married

Al Green wants to love you. He wants to feel your body against his naked torso. Ooooh yeah he wants to make sweet, sweet love to your sexy body. He's burning deep down inside for you and he wants you to come and take him. Take him now because as he says there's love inside him baby and it's ready for exploding. He's just a sexed up love machine who wants your body now.

But he also wants you to find Jesus, he wants that too.

The close relation to Gospel has always been one of the strange aspects of early soul music. Many of the early soul musicians got their start singing in churches and belting out gospel tunes in choirs. Their early music was religious praise and certainly wasn't about enticing people into bed. Then they saw the riches of the recording studio and performing circuit and turned to sweet, sexy, seductive soul music which had no place in a religious building. Some of them stayed singing soul music, some like Little Richard has tried to keep a foot in both camps but Al Green is one of those who has wandered between the two genres. At times in his career he's posing half naked on an album cover and at others he's wearing a nice suit and fronting albums with titles like The Lord Will Make a Way.

Personally I think Al Green should stick to Gospel music because he definitely has that kind of voice. He's not nearly as sexy sounding as Marvin Gaye or other soul singers and has a sound that lends itself to great Gospel music. His dulcet tones are somehow naturally soothing. If he sings that Jesus loves you and everything is okay in the arms of God you tend to believe him. But if he sings that he wants your sexy body it's a lot less convincing.

Greatest hits definitely contains the finest moments of his earlier career. His best hits are here and they're all classics without any of the filler. If you've ever rushed to turn of the radio when  UB40's terrible version of Here I am comes on then you should put that prejudice out of your mind while you give the original version a listen. While UB40 took all the soul out of it and turned it into a terrible pop cliche, Green fills it with soulful excess and makes it a beautiful listen. It's a perfect song and this should be the version that everyone hears.

The same can't be said about Can't Get Next To You which was originally a hit for the Temptations as a fast tempo Psychedelic Soul number. Green slows it down and to my mind lessens the impact considerably. He turns it from a fantastic number into a shadow of its former self. Changing the tempo of a well known track and forcing it at gunpoint to cross the bridge from rocker to ballad (or vice versa) is always an interesting trick. At times it produces a really interesting result but at other times it just makes you long for the original version. I'm a huge Temptations fan and I have to say that this just makes me want to hit stop and find my copy of their version instead.

Al Green's soul music isn't as memorable as Marvin's or Sam Cooke's but it's still a great listen. This compilation is a little high in the list for my liking (is it really better than Electric Ladyland?) but it's certainly the best introduction to an artist that you really should give some time to if you want to learn about the history of Soul Music.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "since you changed your format, no more business until I hear from you.Icant even download any songs. Until I hear from you no see.It is not the product, you should not have changed any programs"

-Why have you chosen Al Green's Greatest hits to get sniffy about an Amazon policy decision?

So how do you feel about Al, Jesus and Al and Jesus? Let me know below.

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