I recently had a four album Al Green listening party. I was sitting around one night, thinking about Al when I realized. I have never listened to Gets Next To You(1971), Lets Stay Together(1972), I’m Still In Love With You(1972), and Call Me(1973) back to back to back to back. Seems like something I should have done a long time ago, but I had not. So I did it. Let me tell you, I should have done it a long fucking time ago. It was beautiful. It was life changing. It was glorious.
A few thoughts on my listening journey.
-Al Green is even better in mass quantity. Any “Best Of Package” that is less then two discs is not a best of package for Al. Its a tease. An intro. If you listen to a one disc best of Al Green package you are being blue balled.
–Lets Stay Together and I’m Still In Love With You in the same year? Fuck Al, you are a soul music Giant. How could one man create to stone cold master pieces in the same year?
–Call Me was not as strong as it once was. Still brilliant, and classic. But no longer number two on my Al Green list. It falls to number three behind Lets Stay Together. Number one being I’m Still In Love With You.
-If you pay close attention to “God Is Standing By” off Gets Next To You and “Jesus Is Waiting” off Call Me. You will realize that Al is just as amazing when he is singing about God and Jesus as he is when he is singing about love and heartbreak. I’m am basing that statement on those two songs alone. I have not dove into Al’s religious material. I will though. From now on if I see a Al Green religious record at the store you can bet your ass I am picking it up.
In short the listening experience when like this. You feel the excitement and the build up during Gets Next To You. You know you are about to have your heart warmed by the sweet sounds of Al Green. The experience picks up steam at the begining of Lets Stay Together. The peak is the end of Lets Stay Together and beginning of I’m Still In love With You. By the time “Jesus Is Waiting” starts, you are ready to give your mind, body and soul to Al, to do with it what he pleases. You trust him, you know you will not do you wrong.
If you have a couple hours, and you want to feel the warmth and love of Al Green. Do what I did. Listen to these records back to back to back to back. It will be two of the best hours of your life.
One side note for you if you are going to do this: Make sure that the version of “Jesus Is Waiting” on your Call Me album is over nine minutes long. The shorter version is not the right version. The shorter version should not even exist.