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Cirque Du Soleil
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Patricia Barber
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Cirque Du Soleil
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Julius Curcio
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Spotlights [Issue # 6 ]
Al Green: Soul Not On Ice

By Ken Micallef

I'm Still In Love With You.” "Tired of Being Alone." "Let’s Stay Together."

If you grew up in the early 1970s these titles will spark a flood of memories that begin and end with one of the world's greatest soul singers, Al Green. From 1972 to 1975 Al Green owned the AM charts with his riveting funk grooves saturated like silk by his wailing, moaning, highly emotional soul singing. Even today, an Al Green single can make you act silly and lose your good sense. Green’s is sweet soul music free of cliché; real soul as God intended. And God apparently intended Al Green to serve him and not Mammon.

Riding high on multiple hits in October of 1974, Green was relaxing in his hot tub when his former girlfriend, Mary Woodson, broke into his Memphis home and dumped scalding hot grits on the singer, causing second-degree burns on his back, stomach and arm. After toasting Green to a near cinder, Woodson killed herself with his gun. Green saw the horrific act as a sign from God and he left the music business for the gospel, and almost never turned back.

With mighty producer Willie Mitchell back on board and drummer Steve Potts faithfully recreating the deep grooves of the late Al Jackson, Al Green returns! I Can't Stop picks up where Green left off (at least for secular music lovers) back in '75, creating sensational soul soirees that grab you by the heart like Jesus and shake your butt like the devil himself. This is gospel-sanctified soul propelled by the same rock and roll ghosts that dogged Robert Johnson and Elvis, grooves reveling in sex and sin but saved by the redemptive power of Green's still magnificent voice. The Mitchell-Green reunion may not have produced songs as simply stupendous as those of Let's Stay Together (1972) or Call Me (73), but good Lord! the spirit is willing and still on fire. Returning to Mitchell’s Royal Studios where he used the same mic (an RCA No. 9) as on his '70s hits, Green found the reunion a hallowed event.

"It was magic," Green says. "We got together because Willie said he wanted to finish an aural painting. He said ‘We’ve got to finish it and sign it.' "

To help recapture that '70s magic Mitchell not only recorded Green in the same Memphis studio, he also brought in many musicians from those classic sessions.

"The atmosphere was way up in the sky," Mitchell explains. "After we got through doing one of the songs, I said ‘Al, come on and sing it again.' He said, 'What's wrong?' And I said 'Well, you know, the band’s running over you.' And he said 'Nobody runs over Al Green!' But, yeah, then he did another take and it was much better."

I Can't Stop comes surprisingly close to equaling the Mitchell-Green classics, but only falls short in time, place and temperament. Nothing is ever as fresh the second time around. But Green’s voice sounds eerily similar to that ecstatic crooner of 30 years ago, a truly remarkable feat given his tendency to jump into falsetto and scream like a man possessed (by Jesus). Fans of Green's bedroom soul songs will surely warm to I Can’t Stop. But what about Green’s parishioners back at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis?

“Am I gonna hear about it? Hell yes!” Green told reporter Tom Moon. “For a long time people would say ‘You can’t sing ‘Love and Happiness’ because that’s not a gospel song.’ And then I started to think ‘What’s the second verse of "Love and Happiness?" (Sings) Be good to me and I’ll be good to you/We’ll be together to see each other walk away with victory.’ Now, if we don’t want to see each other walk away with victory then something must be wrong.” !

I Can't Stop
Blue Note

Soul Not On Ice Al Green I Can't Stop

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