Top positive review
Mr. Smooth, Al Green.
Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2017
In his heyday between 1971 and 1974, I swear if you ran the radio dial from one end to the other you'd always find one station or more playing Al Green no matter what time of day or night it was. He was that popular, and on Top 40, R&B and Adult-Contemporary stations as well. He had a rare run of seven gold records in a row and six gold albums. Everybody liked Al Green. He had a smooth sound that once you heard the horn section you knew was definitely Memphis. Unlike the songs of other artists during this fabulous time for R&B which frequently had very elaborate arrangements, Al Green's songs were almost underplayed, a tight group of brass, percussion, keyboards and even strings keeping everything on a high simmer, perfect for his tenor voice and mellow delivery.
He was born in Forrest City, Arkansas near Memphis and in his teens moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. In high school he formed a group, Al Greene (he dropped the extra e later) and the Soul Mates and they actually had a national top 40 hit with Back Up Train. Follow-ups did not chart. While still with the group he met producer Willie Mitchell, who helped him find his voice instead of imitating the singers on the records he learned the songs from. Mitchell signed on to Hi Records in Memphis and brought Al with him. In 1970 he took over the label and soon things really began to happen. He and Al developed a sound together through two albums, the second having his version of I Can't Get Next To You, which made the national Top 50. The Norman Whitfield song (Whitfield tended to write the Temptations hotter, more upbeat songs) was slowed down in a blues rhythm and got him a lot of attention. Six months later he put out Tired of Being Alone and never looked back.
This has been the standard Al Green Greatest Hits CD for years, and copies the 1975 original vinyl LP. it's put out on Hi Records which is really odd nowadays when every small label has been gobbled up by one of the three mega-giants. For some reason they chose a budget format, I guess to sell a lot of copies. That means only ten songs, even on CD, and no booklet or any information on Al Green besides song credits. He deserved the release of a longer disc as well, as most labels do for their artists. I see now they have put out a two-CD Al Green set at a mid-price, but don't like the fact that with 42 songs they managed to leave off Look What You've Done for Me. That shouldn't have happened with two discs. I'll probably get a couple of his classic albums instead. All the hits are here on this disc though they're not in the order of release. Of course I just rearranged them on my own playlist and even burned a disc of his hits in their original order. The sound is absolutely tops.