Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Al Green - Green Is Blues (1969)
Released April 1969
This was Al Green's first album for Hi Records and began a run of truly classic Willie Mitchell produced offerings. This was his first work with Mitchell. You can tell instantly. That Al Green sound just hits you right there in your soul. Al Green had arrived.
The sound on the remastered version is just so good, thumping bassily right out of your speakers with one huge soulful punch. This album is true soul heaven. The backing is provided by the Hi Rhythm section and is just lip-smackingly good.
1. One Woman
2. Talk To Me
3. My Girl
4. The Letter
5. I Stand Accused
6. Gotta Find A New World
7. What Am I Gonna Do With Myself
8. Tomorrow's Dream
9. Get Back Baby
10. Get Back
"One Woman" is an example of everything that Al Green's brand of soul was gong to be about for the next six or seven years - it is in possession of a beautiful, gospelly vocal and that intoxicating Stax-style churchy organ backing. It is perfect slow and dignified soul. When it finally builds up into its horn-powered chorus it is so uplifting. Great stuff. "Talk To Me" is Sam Cooke meets Stax soul. Oh Lordy, that bass line those Memphis horns. Heavenly. Green's cover of The Temptations' "My Girl" is sublime. Only in the hands of someone like Green with Mitchell's production can such a cover succeed. It does, superbly. The same applies to a cooking cover of The Box Tops' "The Letter" that just drips with bubbling soul. Green's ad-libbing vocals are mouth-wateringly good.
A beautiful gospel-influenced organ break introduces "I Stand Accused" (made famous the following by The Isaac Hayes Movement). The sublte percussion backing is infectious and Green's vocal once again just soars over the stately horns. "Gotta Find A New World" has another wonderful, deep bass line and effortless vocals. The soul here is just so pure, man.
"What Am I Gonna Do With Myself" has an unusually sharp, loud, cymbal sound that threatens to dominate the track, but Green's vocal ensures that doesn't happen. The warm, deep soul sound returns with the sumptuous "Tomorrow's Dream". For some reason, though, Green's voice is a little low down in the mix on this one. "Get Back Baby" has Green getting the funk, James Brown-style, for the first time. Continuing the "get back" theme comes a cover of The Beatles' "Get Back". It is a rousing, organ-driven pumper, giving the rock track an injection of Southern soul, wonderfully. Ella Fitzgerald's "Summertime" is given the Memphis treatment as well, with impressive results.
Al Green released many more albums for Hi Records, some truly great ones too, but this is up there with the best. It is a purity and joie de vivre about it that makes it one of soul music's greatest works, for me.
- February 27, 2019