Al Green - Greatest Hits (180 Gram Vinyl) [LP]
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Personnel: Al Green (vocals); Teenie Hodges (guitar); The Memphis Strings (strings); Andrew Love, Ed Logan (tenor saxophone); James Mitchell (baritone saxophone); Wayne Jackson (trumpet); Jack Hale (trombone); Charles Hodges (organ, piano); Archie Turner, Michael Allen (piano); Leroy Hodges (bass); Howard Grimes, Al Jackson (drums, congo, bongo); Rhodes, Chalmers, Rhodes (background vocals). Recorded at Royal Recording Studios, Memphis, Tennessee. The expanded version of GREATEST HITS includes 5 bonus tracks and is newly remastered. Sam Cooke's death in 1964 left a huge void in the world of soul music not filled until Al Green's breakthrough in the early '70s. Although many great male soul singers came and went in the years following Cooke's death, none came close to the smooth and creamy style that translated to consistent crossover success. While Otis Redding was gritty and James Brown relentless, in Green's hands, R&B was sophisticated and suave. GREATEST HITS basks in a style of sultry soul that Green inherited from Cooke. Yet, Green's style owed as much to producer Willie Mitchell's delicate production as it did to the singer's pure falsetto. While not inclined to use the vast numbers of musicians that Phil Spector did, Mitchell's use of James Mitchell (no relation) and Charles Chalmer's string arrangements, the Memphis Horns and the background vocals of Rhodes, Chalmers and Rhodes gave Green's songs a full sound that wrapped itself around Green's aching emotivity. "Here I Am (Come And Take Me)" features all these elements at play, along with the crack cadence of former MG drummer Al Jackson and brothers Teenie and Charles Hodges, whose respective guitar and organ juice up the rhythm. Thematically, listening to GREATEST HITS is like thumbing through a primer on the evolution of a relationship, and the ups and downs that come with it. The despair of "Tired Of Being Alone" gives way to a fleeting affair in "Call Me (Come Back Home)." The joy Green finds in "Love And Happiness" is temporary before the pleading begins anew with "Let's Stay Together," then gets tied up with a declaration ("L-O-V-E [Love]") and a proposal ("Let's Get Married").