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The Gospel Collection

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Album Review

Al Green has spent his career wrestling with the secular/sacred divide in his music and much like Marvin Gaye, the pull between opposing forces, between sexual release and spiritual transcendence, has given the best of his work a magnificent emotive power. From his first hit in 1967 ("Back Up Train") through his forlorn and funky hits with Willie Mitchell on Hi Records in the mid-'70s, Green has chased both kinds of joy toward the corridors of Heaven, finally switching over completely to gospel in the 1980s. The tension in his work doesn't end there, though. With his sexy falsetto swoops and honey-tinged tenor growls, Green is too good a singer not to take any song he tackles downtown. Substitute girl for God in these songs and you've got the same old Al Green wrestling with the same old angels, and that's just what the doctor ordered.


Born: 13 April 1946 in Forrest City, AR

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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