Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

The Immortal Soul of Al Green
Hi/The Right Stuff

Few dreamed during Al Green's commercial heyday that 30 years later the last soul man would also turn out to be the greatest. Soul men were supposed to be rough and macho, not smooth and fey; they were supposed to knock your socks off and love you all night long, not wheedle and sidle and moan. But moved along by the producer Willie Mitchell's light touch with color and groove, Green's quirky phrasing and timbral ingenuity have achieved a universality that Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett can't touch.

Green's albums were wonderful pretty much front to back, and there are songs on Livin' for You and the glorious Call Me that I'll proudly play you after you've memorized the selections on this utilitarian, cost-effective box. By sticking to his '70s studio output (meaning none of the live finds of 1997's Al Green Anthology and no gospel music, either), The Immortal Soul proves one of the few such conspicuous consumables that passes the dreaded disc-four test: Green sounds (almost) as good after his pop moment passes as he does on the 1972 smashes "Let's Stay Together" and "I'm Still in Love With You." After all, his "Take Me to the River" was never even a single.

Tracks, Dec. 2004-Jan. 2005