Friday, February 26, 2010

#23 You, me, a bottle of wine and Mr. Al Green

If you want to hear some funky soul that will groove you to the depths of yourself, then maybe you should give a listen to Mr. Al Green. He has been performing music for over fifty years and is showing no signs of slowing down these days. There is just something about the music of Al Green that makes you want to stoke the fire, open up a bottle of wine with that special someone and have yourselves a groovy little evening if you catch my meaning. Green's debut album with Hi Records in 1969 was 'Green is Blues', a mellow, horn-driven album that allowed Green to show off his powerful and expressive voice. Since then he has released 27 studio albums to date, with a catalog that is a wide range of music including R&B, Soul, Blues, Funk and Pop.

Al Green has always been known for his wildly improvisational, ecstatic cries and moans that came directly from his love of gospel music. In the late-1970s he returned to the Baptist church as a preacher. He continues to record albums in a pop-gospel style and is now often referred to as the Reverend Al Green. It is awesome that this conversion did not force him to cut the close ties the singer had to the Memphis soul and music that made him famous. This spiritual shift was partly due to a crisis of the soul that Green had suffered in 1974 after he was hospitalized with second-degree burns on his back, arm, and stomach after a former girlfriend, Mary Woodson of New Jersey, had poured boiling grits on him while he was bathing in his Memphis home and then killed herself with his gun. Green referred to the incident as a wakeup call and it signified the change over to a more gospel sound for his future releases.

The writing of Al Green always revolves around love and passion which have always been at the root of soul music. Songs like 'I'm Still in Love with You', and 'L-O-V-E LOVE' are pretty self explanatory in their lyrical style. They come across as a very Marvin Gaye style but with a bit more depth and roots feeling to them. One of his songs that I really enjoy is 'Take Me To The River' off 1974's 'Al Green Explores Your Mind'. It is an extremely funky track that wasn't very famous at first but has since been covered by many different artists. In fact, quite a few people think that it is a Talking Heads song, whereas in actuality they did a cover of it. In 2004, 'Take Me to the River' was ranked number 117 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. In terms of entire albums you have to check out 1973's 'Call Me'. It is the sixth album by Green and is widely regarded as his masterpiece. Many critics and fans alike have hailed this album as one of the best soul albums ever made. He really breaks out of his own mold on this record and incorporates some country influences (He covers both Willie Nelson and Hank Williams on this album). Al often gets overlooked in the soul department but he really is one of the best there ever was. If you are looking for something to go with that wine and candle light, then I suggest you dig Al Green.

The Facts:

- Green received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.
- In 2009, Al Green was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame.
- Al was kicked out of his first band 'The Greene brothers' by his own father after he was caught listening to the music of Jackie Wilson.

My Fave Album:

-'The Definitive Greatest Hits', was originally released in1975 as 'The Greatest Hits' and has consistently ranked as not just a well selling compilation but also as one of the best compiled 'greatest hits' albums in music history.It blew me away on the first listen through and remains my fave soul album to date. In 2003, the album was ranked number 52 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. This is a fantastic album and packs in over twenty of Green's funkiest, most soulful hits. This album easily stands alone and should be a must have in any collection of awesome tunes. The addition of 'Take Me To The River' makes this version way more worth it then the original 1975 package. It also contains 5 other tracks that are gold star additions to the mix. I highly recommend this album if you want to enjoy some funky good times.

Dig this live video of Al performing Let's Stay Together. This man is the KING of soul.


Anonymous said...

yes he IS the king of soul! I am definitely in an Al Green kinda mood now, but don't have the wine, or a you and me..or the snuggles, but he is good for boppnig around the house doing housework lol

Anonymous said...

you know Tosh, I could see you wearing that suit! ;)