Monday, 23 July 2018
Al Green - Call Me (1973)
Released April 1973
Recorded at Royal Recording Studios, Memphis
Surprisingly, after two excellent albums in 1971’s “Al Green Gets Next To You” and 1972’s “Lets Stay Together”, it is the album, from 1973, considerably later in his career, that is considered Memphis-born Al Green’s classic album.
As with all his albums, the soul delivered is effortlessly good - a Stax-Style punchy horn backing is present and Green’s vocals are sweet, soulful and dripping with honey. You feel that he and his top notch band could put out material like this in their sleep. The sound quality is seriously impressive - bassy, rich, clear and defined.
Songs like the calm but subtly brassy “Call Me” are representative of Green’s brand of soul - all lush strings and captivating horns. “Have You Been Making Out Ok” slows the tempo for a sweet soul ballad with a vocal very much in the Curtis Mayfield fashion. The uplifting drive of the horns and those solidly insistent drums provide the foundation for “Stand Up” where, again, Green sounds so much like Mayfield. Or maybe Mayfield sounded like Green. Lyrically, “Stand Up” is a consciousness, call for awareness and pride, but the song is no tub thumper, Green cannot avoid the nonchalant groove in his delivery, whatever the subject.
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is a Hank Williams country song, but you would never have known. Here it sounds like an authentic, copper-bottomed slice of pure Memphis soul. The backing is beautiful and Green’s delivery peerless once again. “Your Love Is Like The Morning Sun” has the most addictive cymbals and bass with attendant organ backing. It is slow-paced soul of the highest quality. The bass on this song is just so good. I love big full bass lines like this. They give a song such life. “Here I Am (Come And Take Me)” has been covered by reggae artists Bob Marley & The Wailers and UB40 among others, but this is the original. Its immaculate horn riff suits reggae 1970s style too, so the ensuing covers were not a surprise. It was made for reggae, but made for Memphis soul even more. Just heavenly. When those melodious horn bursts kick in - Lord have mercy!
“Funny How Time Slips Away” is a Willie Nelson cover but in Green’s hands, yet again he makes it his own. Many artists have covered this one - Elvis, The Supremes and Bryan Ferry to name just a few. This is probably the best of them all. Green is so good he makes even cover versions sound like he is the first person ever to sing the song. “You Ought To Be With Me” is classic Al Green soul. Indeed it was a hit single. It has that confident, insistent groove and, of course, that trademark vocal. It is just a little like “Let’s Stay Together, but no matter. “Jesus Is Waiting” is suitably devotional from a future Minister of the church. Slow, punchy and dignified. As indeed is the whole album.