Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Al Green - Let's Stay Together (1972)


Released January 1972

After 1971's "Gets Next To You" this is another classic Willie Mitchell-produced Al Green album full of those sumptuous Memphis horns driving along a solid soul rhythm and Green's at times husky at others so smooth voice soaring above everything. The sound on these early seventies Memphis-style soul albums is invariably excellent too, vibrant and intoxicating.


1. Let's Stay Together
2. La-La For You
3. So You're Leaving
4. What Is This Feeling
5. Old Time Lovin'
6. I've Never Found A Girl
7. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
8. Judy
9. It Ain't No Fun To Me

The huge hit from the album kicks it off - "Let's Stay Together". It really needs no introduction. It is Memphis soul perfection. Green's voice controls the whole thing beautifully. An absolute soul classic.   The quality continues in the punchy, laid-back but powerful "La-La For You", which has beautiful horn passages and Green sounding James Brown-esque in his gruff delivery. Check out the lovely introduction to "So You're Leaving". On this one, Green's voice sounds very Curtis Mayfield in its higher pitch. The percussion, drums, bas, horns, backing vocals. They all blend so well on this number, as indeed they do on the whole album. Just as with "Gets Next To You" and 1973's "Call Me" you know what you are going to get - honest, grinding soul of the highest quality. Even those who aren't huge soul fans can find themselves respecting this. It really is pretty flawless.

"What Is This Feeling" follows the same recipe. Most of the songs are pretty similar, to be honest, but it doesn't really matter. It is half an hour or so of a great soul vibe. Green's vocals are effortless, almost improvised at times - sometimes rasping, sometimes honey sweet, sometimes deep, other times growling. He is not often, surprisingly, mentioned as one of the truly great soul singers, but surely he is.

"Old Time Lovin'" sees Green slowing down things on a gospelly, yearningly soulful number, while "I've Never Found A Girl" has just the most infectious, soulfully driving rhythm. This one is such a great example of the genre. It is simply a perfect piece of early seventies, cooking Memphis-style soul. The child of the great late sixties Stax material. "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" is a six minute slice of entrancing soul beauty. It is full of sweeping but subtle strings and an appealing organ underpinning the whole thing, not to mention Green's matchless vocals. Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield - Al Green deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.


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