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Spotlights [Issue # 14 ]
Al Green: Everything's OK

By Dean Truitt

After nearly 50 years of singing professionally, Al Green seems to have finally come home with his latest CD, Everything’s OK.

After nearly 50 years of singing professionally, Al Green seems to have finally come home with his latest CD, Everything’s OK. Although Green rose to pop stardom with his sexy, soulful vocal delivery, he has been concentrating almost exclusively on gospel recordings since 1976. The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame inductee admits the difficulty in balancing the secular and spiritual worlds of music.

“I wanted to put on this album who I am - to ‘fess up to it,” Green aknowledges. “I’m the Reverend Al Green, and everybody calls me that, from Argentina all the way to the Catskills. So that’s who I am. I’ve got people in the church saying, ‘That’s a secular song,’ and I’m saying, ‘Yeah, but you’ve got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to be anything other than spiritual. You’ve got to live those days, too!’ Everybody still needs love, needs happiness in the family, needs to keep the kids on track.”

Not only is Everything’s OK the third secular album Green has released in three decades, but it is also a reunion with longtime producer and arranger, Willie Mitchell. The landmark collaborator’s Memphis studio is the exact location Green recorded several monumental tracks: “Let’s Stay Together,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Let’s Get Married,” and countless others. Green openly aknowledges Mitchell for helping create his distinctive body of work. The lively singer elaborates, “Willie has that twinkle in his eye, he has a talent. He’s the founder of the Al Green sound, that personal sound. It’s finishing the aural painting that we started with ‘Tired of Being Alone,’ ‘Let’s Stay Together,’ ‘For the Good Times’ and all those things. It’s a beautiful painting and we should finish it, so that’s what we’re doing.”

Ironically, it was the pair’s reconnection that sparked the CD’s optimistic title. While discussing his working relationship with Mitchell throughout the years, Green admits, “We’ve been recording now for 32 years, and we went through some hills and valleys, some low points and high points, some great spots and not-so-great spots. But we looked around and we said, ‘Hey! Everything’s OK!’ Regardless of how we thought it would turn out, everything has turned out OK.”

There are few performers who can write and deliver such stirring love ballads as the Reverend Al Green. The singer/songwriter wrote six of the twelve tracks alone and one gets the feeling that the artist was especially focused in this effort. Even when singing “secular” music, his spiritual optimism radiates through each word with boundless energy. On the title track, Green gleefully croons with more youthful energy than any 58-year-old man should possess. His ecstatic wailing on “I Wanna Hold You” will remind listeners of the most passionate, sensual moments from the “Let’s Stay Together” era.

On the ballads such as “Perfect to Me,” the singer’s silky voice whispers and sails with genuine, touching intimacy. The album’s finest hour may be his remake of the Joe Cocker hit, “You Are So Beautiful to Me.” Instead of Cocker’s sandpaper voice everyone expects, Reverend Green’s refined, pure tenor glides through the song with otherworldly conviction. Once again, Green generously credits Mitchell’s skillful production for the track’s triumphant feeling. He explains, “”That was Willie Mitchell’s baby. He loves that song, and I already knew it because I love Joe Cocker. Willie told me, ‘Let your guard down and then just sing it,’ and that’s what I tried to do.” With his fervent delivery over a bed of organ, woodwinds, and a string section, the standard sounds like a gospel hymn for a new era.

In the end, Green seems happy with his role as a soul-singing reverend and recognizes his many gifts. He beams, “The music is the message, the message is the music. So that’s my little ministry that the Big Man upstairs gave to me - a little ministry called love and happiness.”

Everything's OK
Blue Note

Everything's OK Al Green Everything's OK

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