Al Green

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Essential Albums

  • Call Me
  • I'm Still In Love with You
  • Let's Stay Together
  • Gets Next to You

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About Al Green

In the '70s, singer Al Green transformed soul music, dispensing with machismo in favor of seductiveness, his creamy, silken croon spiked with church-like interjections, a deep sexuality lurking beneath a hushed vulnerability. Born in Arkansas in 1946, Green moved with his family to Michigan, where at age 10 he started singing with his brothers. He later formed a vocal group of his own; after his first couple of singles failed to connect, in 1969 he hooked up with Memphis producer Willie Mitchell, who signed him to Hi Records and began helping Green develop his own musical identity. Mitchell and his killer house band gave the singer a unique sound: lean grooves meticulously accented with lush strings, fat snare, and horn punctuations that lag ever so slightly behind the beat. Green was given generous space to play with phrasing like it was putty. Beginning with his second album for the label, Al Green Gets Next to You, he released a string of hits, including “Let’s Stay Together” and “I’m Still in Love with You,” that have remained cultural markers and synonyms for intimacy decades later. By the mid-'70s, Green’s personal life had led him toward religion, and in 1976 he established the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis. He continued to record secular music until 1979, at which point he dedicated himself fully to gospel, as Reverend Al Green. Starting in the late ’80s, he sporadically returned to the soul world, and in the 2000s he made a series of albums for Blue Note, including a reunion with Mitchell and another album made with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. He returned to the road in 2019, for the first time in seven years, carrying on a tradition of allowing audiences to sing the words to tunes that have become common currency.

Forrest City, AR, United States
April 13, 1946

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