Birmingham Sunday Mercury
Born in Arkansas in 1946, Al Green moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan aged nine and soon joined the local gospel choir. By the mid-70s the Reverend Green had scored a bunch of soulful hits on both sides of the Atlantic.
This collection of his work features none of those, however, and concentrates instead on 20 classic compositions from the 60s, 70s and 80s – all sung in that unique and stylised Al Green fashion. Some work better than others.
It was unwise to take on Orbison’s Pretty Woman or The Beatles’ Get Back. But there are some nice versions of Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Smokey Robinson’s My Girl, Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away and Kris Kristofferson’s For The Good Times.
Al Green wrote and recorded R&B classics such as Let’s Stay Together, I’m Still In Love With You and Call Me, but this album concentrates instead on his talents as a cover artist. Among the songs he tackles with his usual elegance are a slow and tortured take on The Bee Gees’ How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, The Beatles’ Get Back and I Want To Hold Your Hand and Take Me To The River, which Green wrote but was first recorded by labelmate Syl Johnson, so is technically a cover.