May 4, 2018

RhoDeo 1817 Grooves


Today an African American singer, songwriter and record producer, best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including "Take Me to the River", "Tired of Being Alone", "I'm Still in Love with You", "Love and Happiness", and his signature song, "Let's Stay Together". Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, he was referred to on the museum's site as being "one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music". He has also been referred to as "The Last of the Great Soul Singers". Green was included in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, ranking at No. 65. ..... 'N Joy

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Al Green was the first great soul singer of the '70s and arguably the last great Southern soul singer. With his seductive singles for Hi Records in the early '70s, Green bridged the gap between deep soul and smooth Philadelphia soul. He incorporated elements of gospel, interjecting his performances with wild moans and wails, but his records were stylish, boasting immaculate productions that rolled along with a tight beat, sexy backing vocals, and lush strings. The distinctive Hi Records sound that the vocalist and producer Willie Mitchell developed made Al Green the most popular and influential soul singer of the early '70s, influencing not only his contemporaries, but also veterans like Marvin Gaye. Green was at the peak of his popularity when he suddenly decided to join the ministry in the mid-'70s. At first, he continued to record secular material, but by the '80s, he was concentrating solely on gospel. During the late '80s and '90s, he occasionally returned to R&B, but he remained primarily a religious performer for the rest of his career. Nevertheless, Green's classic early- '70s recordings retained their power and influence throughout the decades, setting the standard for smooth soul.

Green was born in Forrest City, AR, where he formed a gospel quartet, the Green Brothers, at the age of nine. The group toured throughout the South in the mid-'50s, before the family relocated to Grand Rapids, MI. The Green Brothers continued to perform in Grand Rapids, but Al's father kicked the boy out of the group after he caught his son listening to Jackie Wilson. At the age of 16, Al formed an R&B group, Al Green & the Creations, with several of his high-school friends. Two Creation members, Curtis Rogers and Palmer James, founded their own independent record company, Hot Line Music Journal, and had the group record for the label. By that time, the Creations had been re-named the Soul Mates. The group's first single, "Back Up Train," became a surprise hit, climbing to number five on the R&B charts early in 1968. The Soul Mates attempted to record another hit, but all of their subsequent singles failed to find an audience.

In 1969, Al Green met bandleader and Hi Records vice president Willie Mitchell while on tour in Midland, Texas. Impressed with Green's voice, he signed the singer to Hi Records, and began collaborating with Al on his debut album. Released in early 1970, Green's debut album, Green Is Blues, showcased the signature sound he and Mitchell devised -- a sinewy, sexy groove highlighted by horn punctuations and string beds that let Green showcase his remarkable falsetto. While the album didn't spawn any hit singles, it was well-received and set the stage for the breakthrough success of his second album. Al Green Gets Next to You (1970) launched his first hit single, "Tired of Being Alone," which began a streak of four straight gold singles. Let's Stay Together (1972) was his first genuine hit album, climbing to number eight on the pop charts; its title track became his first number one single. I'm Still in Love With You, which followed only a few months later, was an even greater success, peaking at number four and launching the hits "Look What You Done for Me" and "I'm Still in Love With You."

By the release of 1973's Call Me, Green was known as both a hitmaker and an artist who released consistently engaging, frequently excellent, critically-acclaimed albums. His hits continued uninterrupted through the next two years, with "Call Me," "Here I Am," and "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)" all becoming Top Ten gold singles. At the height of his popularity, Green's former girlfriend, Mrs. Mary Woodson, broke into his Memphis home in October 1974 and poured boiling grits on the singer as he was bathing, inflicting second-degree burns on his back, stomach, and arm; after assaulting Green, she killed herself with his gun. Green interpreted the violent incident as a sign from God that he should enter the ministry. By 1976, he had bought a church in Memphis and had become an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle. Though he had begun to seriously pursue religion, he had not given up singing R&B and he released three other Mitchell-produced albums -- Al Green Is Love (1975), Full of Fire (1976), Have a Good Time (1976) -- after the incident. However, his albums began to sound formulaic, and his sales started to slip by the end of 1976, with disco cutting heavily into his audience.

In order to break free from his slump, Green stopped working with Willie Mitchell in 1977 and built his own studio, American Music, where he intended to produce his own records. The first album he made at American Music was The Belle Album, an intimate record that was critically acclaimed but failed to win a crossover audience. Truth and Time (1978) failed to even generate a major R&B hit. During a concert in Cincinnati in 1979, Green fell off the stage and nearly injured himself seriously. Interpreting the accident as a sign from God, Green retired from performing secular music and devoted himself to preaching. Throughout the '80s, he released a series of gospel albums on Myrrh Records. In 1982, Green appeared in the gospel musical Your Arms Too Short to Box With God with Patti Labelle. In 1985, he reunited with Willie Mitchell for He Is the Light, his first album for A&M Records.

Green tentatively returned to R&B in 1988 when he sang "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" with Annie Lennox for the Bill Murray comedy Scrooged. Four years later, he recorded his first full-fledged soul album since 1978 with the U.K.-only Don't Look Back. Al Green was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. That same year, he released Your Heart's in Good Hands, an urban contemporary record that represented his first secular album to be released in America since Truth and Time. Though the album received positive reviews, it failed to become a hit. Green did achieve widespread recognition eight years later with his first album for Blue Note, I Can't Stop. One and a half years later, he followed it with Everything's OK. His third Blue Note album, 2008's Lay It Down, featured an updated sound that still echoed the feel of his classic earlier soul style.

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By the time of 1974's Al Green Explores Your Mind, this version of the Memphis sound was the production style for only a handful of artists. Producer Willie Mitchell used a lighter touch for his most famous artist, and it's all but crafted into the Al Green sound. Despite his skills, Green never falls into mannerism here and gives heartfelt and cogent vocals rooted in intelligence and technique. "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)," although lyrically slight, has the artist's charisma and Mitchell's pop chops. "Take Me to the River," with perfect backing from Hi Rhythm and a horn and string arrangement, finds Green at his most persuasive. The last track, "School Days," has Green longing for a school girlfriend and despite the potentially sappy sentiment, it works like a charm. The greatness of Al Green Explores Your Mind comes from a collective effort, including James Mitchell's dreamlike string arrangements and the always skilled backing vocals of Rhodes, Chalmers & Rhodes. But the biggest draw here is Green's phrasing and intimate vocals, making the record an extremely strong effort. In a short time, Al Green became a premier singer in R&B and pop. With songs like "Look What You've Done for Me" and "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)," among many others, Green and producer Willie Mitchell refined the sounds of each genre. As Al Green Explores Your Mind was the peak of Green's carelessness, Al Green Is Love finds a starker reality -- the majority of the tracks here are ruminative but not always coherent. The first track, the propulsive "L-O-V-E (Love)," would be even more believable if Green didn't sound so ambivalent. Other up-tempo tracks, "I Gotta Be More" and "Rhymes," are edgy and dark, with great riffs from guitarist Mabon Hodges. The heart of Al Green Is Love is the ballads, though Green's not very happy, and those looking for heartwarming thoughts on romance won't find it here. "The Love Sermon" and, even better, "I Didn't Know" are spare, dirge-like songs that give Green great opportunities to turn in raw and emotional performances. "I Wish You Were Here" and "Could I Be the One" have producer Willie Mitchell offering suitably bleak arrangements to go with Green's airy vocals. The best track here, "There Is Love," strikes a balance between the customary production grace and the album's pervading sorrow. Al Green Is Love might be too depressing for some, but his fans will find Green's truthfulness appealing and some of the songs among his best.

Al Green Explores Your Mind and Al Green Is Love   (flac 463mb)

Al Green Explores Your Mind
01 Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy) 2:59
02 Take Me To The River 3:43
03 God Blessed Our Love 3:55
04 The City 3:22
05 One Nite Stand 2:23
06 I'm Hooked On You 3:19
07 Stay With Me Forever 3:12
08 Hangin' On 4:19
09 School Days 3:11
Al Green Is Love
10 L-O-V-E (Love) 3:04
11 Rhymes 3:32
12 The Love Sermon 6:34
13 There Is Love 3:03
14 Could I Be The One 4:05
15 Love Ritual 4:18
16 I Didn't Know 7:45
17 Oh Me,Oh My (Dreams In My Arms) 2:45
18 I Gotta Be More ( Take Me Higher ) 2:43
19 I Wish You Were Here 3:18
20 Strong As Death (Sweet As Love) 4:18

Al Green Explores Your Mind and Al Green Is Love (ogg  169mb)

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Full of Fire is the second to last '70s effort that Al Green co-produced with Willie Mitchell. While much of Green's previous work (I'm Still in Love With You, Call Me, Al Green Explores Your Mind) spotlighted Green's skill at doing songs filled with romance and longing, on Full of Fire he's more concerned with his burgeoning religious nature. Although that may seem slightly boring, the album is better structured and, as a whole, comes off even better than Al Green Is Love. The first track, "Glory, Glory," sneaks in religion so deftly that even Willie Mitchell probably didn't even get it until the track was done. One of the few romantic tracks, the sweet and old-fashioned "Always," has him coming in soft with much charm. "I'd Fly Away" and "Soon as I Get Home" both have Green fantasizing about heaven, but they're both spacey rather than morbid. The last track, the hard-edged "Let It Shine" is enlivened by Howard Grimes' patently surprising drumming. Although Green isn't always all there on Full of Fire, his co-production with Mitchell and the playing of Hi Rhythm makes this an essential offering. The final offering from the magical collaboration between Al Green and producer Willie Mitchell, Have a Good Time found the dynamic duo in the midst of a creative crossroads. Green had just purchased a church and was looking to pour his energies into his congregation and his newly appointed title of Reverend. While the message and tones of religion aren't as obvious on Have a Good Time as they were on Full of Fire, they still do make appearances here and there. But it wasn't just a change in Green's life that made Have a Good Time so distinct from the earlier classics; it was also the changing shift in cultural tastes (thanks in no small part to the emergence of disco to the forefront of America's collective dance consciousness). With style shifts and members of a once solid backing band going their own way, the writing on the wall couldn't have been any clearer to both Green and Mitchell. With Have a Good Time they recapture moments of classic collaboration, the wonderful "Nothing Takes the Place of You" being the prime example of how good the two could be when they were in sync.

Al Green, Full Of Fire ~ Have A Good Time    (flac 351mb)

Full Of Fire
01 Glory Glory
02 That's The Way It Is
03 Always
04 There's No Way
05 I'd Fly Away
06 Full Of Fire
07 Together Again
08 Soon As I Get Home
09 Let It Shine
Have A Good Time
10 Keep Me Cryin'
11 Smile A Little Bit More
12 I Tried To Tell Myself
13 Something
14 The Truth Marches On
15 Have A Good Time
16 Nothing Takes The Place Of You
17 Happy
18 Hold On Forever

Al Green, Full Of Fire ~ Have A Good Time  (ogg  141mb )


Al Green severed his ties with longtime producer Willie Mitchell in 1977, establishing his own backup band and seizing the production reins. But he hadn't yet made the final break with soul; this was the last secular work he would make for many years, and it was brilliant, even though it didn't come close to equaling his previous commercial heights. In retrospect, many just didn't understand where he was going, while others were turned off by the blurred lyrical focus of songs like "Belle." But "I Feel Good" had as much danceable energy and soulful fire as any Green up-tempo tune, and "Lovin' You" and "Dream" were sorely underrated compositions. Returning to the formula of his classic Hi albums, Al Green assembled a fine collection of originals and covers for Truth N' Time. Although Green is in good voice, and his version of "Say a Little Prayer" is impressive, the album feels a bit like a holding pattern, simply repeating ideas that were more fruitful the first time around. Given the generally listless nature of Truth N' Time, and the way Green sounds vaguely uninterested in the material, it's not a surprise that it was his last secular record for a very long time.


Al Green, The Belle Album ~ Truth N' Time    (flac  372mb)

The Belle Album
01 Belle
02 Loving You
03 Feels Like Summer
04 Georgia Boy
05 I Feel Good
06 All N All
07 Chariots Of Fire
08 Dream
Truth N' Time
09 Blow Me Down
10 Lo And Behold
11 Wait Here
12 To Sir With Love
13 Truth N' Time
14 King Of All
15 I Say A Little Prayer
16 Happy Days

 Al Green, The Belle Album ~ Truth N' Time  (ogg  148mb)

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