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The Best of the Gospel Sessions

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Album Review

Al Green has sold some 20 million records, been named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and been given a Lifetime Achievement Award by BET, among other honors, and most of that has stemmed from his secular pop career and the smooth, soulful Hi Records sound he helped build with producer Willie Mitchell in the 1970s. But he’s also been elected to the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame, and if Green's fame largely rests with pop hits like “Let’s Stay Together” and “Tired of Being Alone,” his perceived personal calling has always been gospel, and as this well-chosen and sequenced selection of some of his best non-secular sides from the 1980s shows, he’s a singer’s singer no matter what the genre — given that Green's themes have always been about the need for love and respect, exactly who he addresses the song to starts to feel like a mere detail. There’s a lot to love here, from his reverent version of Curtis Mayfield's “People Get Ready” to the jaunty and soothing “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (which has a backing track that eerily resembles Marvin Gaye's “Sexual Healing,” another song that has the connection between love and God as its core subject), and when one compares a track like “Higher Plane” here with Green's peak commercial work with Mitchell from the '70s, the similarities far outweigh the differences.


Born: April 13, 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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The Best of the Gospel Sessions, Al Green
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