Written By: Ethan Griggs
My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com
When Otis Redding died in December of 1967, the world was left without a true modern soul-star like that of Redding or his predecessor Sam Cooke. James Brown popularity was starting to decline and many younger folks wanted an alternative. Enter the strapping, young soulster from Forrest City, Arkansas – originally performing under his unmodified surname Greene in the early 60’s, the singer found immense success when he changed his stage name to Al Green. To this day he remains the most consistent soul-star to come out of the 1970’s and has earned the title of The Reverend. Here are five of his greatest moments:
1. “Tired Of Being Alone” from Al Green Gets Next To You (1971)
This song is worthy enough to open up the singer’s first and most famous compilation, Al Green’s Greatest Hits. This is how many people in the United States were introduced to Al Green, including myself. Featuring the model of many future hits – a stinging horn section that battles with Green’s raspy howl. This single was the spark that led to his long and fruitful relationship with Hi Records.
2. “Let’s Stay Together” from Let’s Stay Together (1972)
Arguably the Reverend’s most well known song, it contains an unforgettable melody and one of the most famous openings of a soul song – on the same as “Let’s Get It On” or “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay”. His only tune to hit the top of the US pop charts, it was infamously sung by President Barack Obama in a speech during a fundraiser at the immortal Apollo Theatre in Harlem, with Green himself in attendance. “I’m so in love with you…”
3. “I’m Still In Love With You” from I’m Still In Love With You (1972)
One of the singer’s most sentimental songs opens the follow up to his previous achievement. Featuring a serendipitous string section, the tune is one of Green’s greatest ballads. The true highlight of this track, along with Green’s inimitable falsetto, is the duality of the strings panned hard left and the typical brass phrases panned hard right.
4. “Love and Happiness” from I’m Still In Love With You (1972)
Although this song wasn’t released as a single until 1977, it’s another one of Green’s most renowned numbers and one of the true highlights of his fourth album. The musical highlight of this track is the watery organ played by Charles Hodges. Clicking in at five minutes, it’s absolutely one of the Reverend’s most artful and dynamic pieces.
5. “You Ought To Be With Me” from Call Me (1973)
Riding high on the success of his early work, Al was ready to move it up to the next level. “You Ought To Be With Me” is another great ballad from the singer but it also serves as a precursor for a lot of the soft rock and new disco trends to come out of the 70’s. With another powerful performance from both the brass and string section, it presents an Al Green that has come into his full form.