Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2013 23:19:28 +0200
Should We Expect More From Al Green?
Al Green turned 62 in April of this year. He’s also responsible for one of the greatest vocal takes in pop history:
MP3: Al Green - “Take Me To The River” (from Al Green Explores Your Mind, 1974).
All of which means he’d be within his rights to rest on his laurels, spending his days preaching the lord’s word, or getting good and fat on a couch in Arkansas. But he’s not. He’s still recording.
The trouble is that he’s not changing. When you listen to his latest record, only the presence of Corinne Bailey Rae and John Legend hints that it was released in 2008, not 1978. The production hasn’t changed: the keyboards still play that slow Green groove, the lo-fi drums keep the rhythm tight. If Al was aiming for that Green-in-the-70s sound, he nailed it.
MP3: Al Green - “Just For Me” (from Lay It Down, 2008).
Unfortunately, we’ve heard it before, and done better (by him!). He’s not teaching us anything we didn’t know. The songs, though they’re almost all good-ish, sound like b-sides from his glory days.
But here’s the question: should we expect anything else? Should we really expect artistic progression and growth after 50? Hasn’t Al Green given us enough already? Shouldn’t he be allowed to rehash his old sound just for the fun of it — just because he enjoys it?
Of course, Al can do what he wants. And, recycled or not, Lay It Down is a better soul record than 90% of soul records released this year. But imagine if he was still pushing hard, trying to squeeze every last drop from his talent. Imagine if he sang about a world that he’s seen change so much since he released Tired Of Being Alone in 1971.
I want the desire of a 58-year old Bruce Springsteen. The weirdness and passion of a 67-year old Bob Dylan. I want Al to want it and fight for it… not to rely on the fact it’ll come to him. But I guess I’ll take a phoned-in Al over no Al at all.
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