The highlight of I Can?t Stop, Al Green?s reunion with producer-arranger Willie Mitchell, the architect of his deathless ?70s hits, is "My Problem is You." Over six and a half minutes, Green roars, wails, and rambles throu... more »gh a midtempo exploration of a seemingly unsolvable riddle--the love of a woman and its hold on him. In great voice, his high-end barely touched by time, he makes every moment count over these dozen originals; often lacking the layer of eccentricity that colored tracks as diverse as "I Can?t Get Next to You" and "Belle," the songs still ring with the Reverend?s authority. Mitchell?s grooves add to the ecstatic mood, especially when the thumping bottom-end syncopation of a track like "Million to One" suggests that of, oh, "Look What You Done for Me." The first time this pair has worked together since a 1985 gospel album, I Can?t Stop blows away the dust and finds more life and gutbucket flash in a seemingly inexhaustible vein. --Rickey Wright« less
The highlight of I Can?t Stop, Al Green?s reunion with producer-arranger Willie Mitchell, the architect of his deathless ?70s hits, is "My Problem is You." Over six and a half minutes, Green roars, wails, and rambles through a midtempo exploration of a seemingly unsolvable riddle--the love of a woman and its hold on him. In great voice, his high-end barely touched by time, he makes every moment count over these dozen originals; often lacking the layer of eccentricity that colored tracks as diverse as "I Can?t Get Next to You" and "Belle," the songs still ring with the Reverend?s authority. Mitchell?s grooves add to the ecstatic mood, especially when the thumping bottom-end syncopation of a track like "Million to One" suggests that of, oh, "Look What You Done for Me." The first time this pair has worked together since a 1985 gospel album, I Can?t Stop blows away the dust and finds more life and gutbucket flash in a seemingly inexhaustible vein. --Rickey Wright
Pretty good, but don't expect the magic of the 70s stuff
Michael Kydonieus | San Francisco, CA United States | 03/15/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is not only a reunion of Green and his arranger--quite a few of the original session players and singers are on hand, too. And let's face it--30 years have had an effect on Al Green's voice. It doesn't have quite the same velvet quality as before, but it's astonishing how much range and dexterity Green's voice has retained, particularly in the upper register. Similarly, his background singers sound a little grittier, not as silky smooth as before. What's a little disappointing to me are the songwriting and arrangements. Gone are the subtlety and gently insinuating quality of hits like "Let's Stay Together." The new songs and arrangements have a more aggressive, in-your-face quality, much more in sync with the new millenium's R&B. Sigh. On the other hand, there is more variety to the songs and arrangements than on Al Green's old albums. Actually, maybe it was wise to avoid slavish adherence to the old style. Why mess with perfection? Green's voice, as it stands, is better suited to the new material. Besides, why shouldn't musicians try new things? I guess it's too much to expect the pure magic of the synchronicity between Green, the arranger, background singers, material, and session musicians 30 years later. But hey, it beats the hell out of most R&B these days and it's pretty decent by any standard. Listen to the samples. If you like what you hear, go ahead and buy. Chances are won't be disappointed. Update 3/24/2005: After listening to I Can't Stop a few times, I feel a bit churlish giving it only three stars. On reflection, I'd give it four stars. Really, this cd is better than it has any right to be. Excellent work by all concerned, it's a pleasure in every way and only suffers in comparison to Green's immortal 70s work, which isn't a fair comparison at all."
The Rev. has healed me!
Michael D. Waters | Franklin, TN | 04/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Rev. Al Green is back!! Whether you liked his tunes in the 70s or heard/saw him when Ally McBeal was on FOX, Al Green is back and doing what he does best. Great R&B...true to its style. It's like a trip to Memphis, without the sweltering heat. This one is classic soul music (some call it booty music), put together by the masters of the trade. Put the kids to bed and put this CD in the player, who knows what will happen?"
Okay to Listen To
F. Wells | Baton Rouge, LA | 10/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I Can't Stop is okay to listen to. I wanted to give five stars just because it is Al Green, but I gave four. My reasons are: Al doesn't sound relaxed and laid back enough, and those background singers sound kind of tacky. Al's voice still sounds great, but he sounds like he is just not putting enough of his soul into his singing. Maybe he'll sound better if he records another gospel album."
Glad Green didn't stop making great music
Vincent M. Mastronardi | Michigan | 05/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Right before this release, I saw Al Green live in concert twice. Both times were very recently. Maybe 2001 and 2003. The first time was a smaller indoor arena. He performed most of the hits and sounded great. He had energy and performed the hits with strong vocals....he was on fire. The second time was an outdoor venue and maybe he was not in good health. The background singers did many of the vocals and he just tried but failed to hit many of the notes. Everyone was a bit let down. Then I heard about Al coming back to commercial R&B with the help of Willie Mitchell, his longtime producer on the many of the hit albums and singles that not only made Al a legend, but defined soul music in that area. I had been waiting for this for a while even though I'm not a hardcore Green fan. I was just very interested in the history of this release, being a return to R&B.
Well, Green made up for one iffy concert and is back in full voice and energy with "I Can't Stop". To many music fans, it is a return not only to R&B but a return to his signature sound. Green and Mitchell do not go for modern hip-hop beats or even neo-soul. This is not quite classic Green, either. Some cuts certainly fit well alongside signature hits like "Let's Stay Together". "Million To One" has a nice midempo feel that is a lot like those classic cuts. But there is something about the tracks that strikes me as even older school and reminds me of the fifties. Of course, I wasn't even born in the seventies but the sound of the horns and the often female backing vocals suggests driving in convertibles and listening to great music (not necessarily sock hops and malt shops). Tracks like "I've Been Waiting On You" and "Play To Win", with that funky guitar and bluesy delivery feel that way to me. The title track has tons of energy and fire but then in constrast, a slow sorrow filled "Not Tonight". It's an album that is not all over the place and is solid blues and soul throughout, but fit an particular mood lyrically, especially not love songs. In fact, there is a ton of heartbreak with "Rainin' In My Heart" and "My Problem Is You". And "Too Many" is a funky track about big and small problems in life. But Al is not preaching on the album.
The album's lyrical tone is all over the place but mostly the songs that even some to come from pain have an underlining hope. And on happier tracks about love like "You", his voice (along with the background singers and the musical arrangement) is filled with a joy he is trying to hold in throughout. The album is a fun and heartfelt trip and just good plain real music with actual instruments and strong singers. I really hope if he keeps making strong material like this, that he will never stop."