A great entry to the genre for a complete outsider
J. R. Boress | 03/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Aside from the Talking Heads' seminal cover of "Take Me to the River," my exposure to the music of Al Green has been very limited. I first heard the song "Let's Stay Together" over a decade ago on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack and it quickly became one of my favorites. I was still mostly a metalhead at that time and just chalked up my enjoyment of the this one track as a fluke.
Now that I'm older and my primary musical tastes have drifted quite a bit, I've been able to come to terms with the idea that I might actually like R&B. Last night I was singing the title track of this album as karaoke to my wife. Today I saw the album pop up for $1.99 on Amazon and snatched it up.
On my first listen through, I can say I'm really enjoying Green's vocal mastery. The instrumentation is smooth and comfortable, though it can feel samey after a few tracks. Still, there are some interesting chord progressions and counterpoints between the backing music and the sung melody. This is probably most evident on "La-La for You" - in my opinion, the second best piece on the album.
Having listened to "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Billy Corgan was an Al Green fan from way back. The guitar picking and string part bring to mind the slower parts of the Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness. Also, the final track, "It Ain't No Fun to Me" reminds me of CCR.
Throughout the album, Green plays with the percussive and tonal qualities of his voice. In this way, he goes beyond being a technically good singer to being an interesting singer. That brings me back to my love of the Talking Heads, just check out "Stop Making Sense" to see how David Byrne's vocals have many similar characteristics.
Well, to sum up, "Let's Stay Together" is a memorable album and a great entry to the genre for someone like me, whose tastes have traditionally run to classic rock or to those bloated catch-all genres, indie & alternative. And Amazon's pricing and easy mp3 purchasing made it a fantastic impulse buy. If you're curious, give it a shot."