Al Green

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Al Green

I Can't Stop (Blue Note) James Brown may be the most sampled man in show business, but Al Green has stepped up competition for the crown of King of Soul. The funk on the reverend's latest may be too smooth for some, but I Can't Stop will make even casual fans want to jump up and kiss somebody. For close to three decades, Green has stayed away from the secular stage, but this reunion with producer Willie Mitchell and a host of musicians from their swinging heyday rarely lets up. Mitchell and Green met in Midland, Texas (of all places), back in 1969, and here they return to the Memphis studio where they crafted their Hi Records hits, including "Let's Stay Together" and "Love and Happiness." It's a sad fact that the 57-year-old Green can no longer hit the high notes all that easily, but his distinctive falsetto and impeccable phrasing emerge often enough to remind us this is a rare talent indeed. Witness "I've Been Thinkin' Bout You," featuring the seductive backing vocals of longtime Hi collaborators Donna Rhodes and Sandra Rhodes and the studio's still-smoking Royal Horns. For those who think this is just make-out music for oldsters, trust me, forget the purple pills, spin a few cuts for the object of your affection, lie back, and enjoy. Hey, Marvin Gaye modeled some of his best work on Green. It's about time the Memphis minister got back to spreading the word of Love. Hallelujah.

***.5 

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