Soul Not On Ice
I'm Still In Love
With You. "Tired of Being Alone." "Lets 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.
Greens 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 Mitchells
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 Weve 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 bands
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 Greens 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 Cant Stop. But what
about Greens parishioners back at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in
Am I gonna hear about it? Hell yes! Green told reporter Tom Moon.
For a long time people would say You cant sing Love
and Happiness because thats not a gospel song. And then I
started to think Whats the second verse of "Love and Happiness?"
(Sings) Be good to me and Ill be good to you/Well be together to
see each other walk away with victory. Now, if we dont want to see
each other walk away with victory then something must be wrong. !
I Can't Stop