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Al Green 
biography, soul albums, photos, I Can't Stop
Buy sheet music by Al Green
Article added on January 1, 2004
 
I Can't Stop
 
In November 2003, Al Green's refreshingly uncompromising, "old-fashioned" soul album I Can't Stop was released. It takes up where the great songs of his years of fame left off. The transition is so smooth that only I'Ve Been Thinkin' Bout You does not hold up to the high standards set in the 1970s. Anybody who does not feel the heart-warming effect of this soul album must be emotionally void.

The album is the occasion for a reunion with his old-time producer Willie Mitchell. One wished they had never separated. There was only one short collaboration between the two since 1976, the 1985 gospel record He Is The Light.

I Can't Stop is above all great 1970s soul, a mix of Memphis soul, gospel, blues and early rock 'n' roll. It was recorded at Mitchell's Royal Recording Studios, on the same old microphone (No. 9, an RCA ribbon mic reserved for Green's use only) and with many of the same musicians from the original Hi Records sessions.
 

Al Green. Photo © EMI.
 
Al Green's biography, albums and singles
 
Albert Greene was born in Forrest City, Arkansas, in 1946. At the age of nine, he started to perform professionally in his hometown. Together with his brothers, he formed a gospel quartet called Greene Brothers; Al dropped the final "e" from his surname when he went solo.

In the mid- and late-1950s, the gospel quartet toured first the South and then Michigan when the family relocated to Grand Rapids.

At 16, Green formed a pop group, Al Greene and the Creations, with high school friends. Their 1967-single "Back Up Train", released under the name Al Greene and the Soul Mates, went to #5 on the national R&B chart.

Soon after his decision in 1969 to begin a solo career, Al Green met producer Willie Mitchell. The renowned bandleader, arranger and trumpeter Mitchell hired Green as his front singer of his band for a gig in Midland, Texas.

Impressed by what he had heard, he approached the young singer after the show and told him: "You come to Memphis and you can be a star." Green asked: "How long?" And Mitchell said: "Eighteen months, it's going to take a little work." Green first replied that he did not have that much time but quickly reconsidered because he needed money - and asked for fifteen hundred dollars. Mitchell forked over the money and signed Green to Hi Records.

They quickly began recording at Mitchell's Royal Recording Studios - with Mitchell arranging, producing and engineering the sessions himself. But above all, Mitchell coached Green, pushing him to find his unique soul voice. According to Mitchell, with the song "Tired of Being Alone", Green had found his own voice and was not trying to copy other soul stars anymore.

In early 1969, they released the Beatles cover "I Want to Hold Your Hand". A year later, Al Green's debut album Green Is Blues followed. His first success was a remake of the Temptations' song "Can't Get Next To You". The second album, Al Green Gets Next To You was a big seller and went gold thanks to the hit single mentioned above, "Tired of Being Alone", which went to #11 in 1971.

Al Green's most successful album - and my favorite song - came in 1972: Let's Stay Together. The album reached the Top 10, its hit single and title track went to #1. Let's Stay Together was a collaboration of Al Green, Willie Mitchell and Al Jackson. It was the first of fifteen Top 10 singles for Green.

Still in 1972, I'm Still in Love With You reached #4. The following year, the album Call Me included three Top 10 singles, the title song as well as "Here I Am" and "Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)". 

Other albums by Al Green released on Mitchell's Hi Records were Al Green Explores Your Mind in 1974, Al Green Is Love in 1975 as well as Full of Fire and Have a Good Time in 1976.
 
A turning point in his life came in October 1974 when his former girlfriend, Mary Woodson, assaulted him at home with hot grits, burning him seriously before killing herself. The shock was so profound for Green that he later turned away from secular music. He found God and founded his own congregation in Memphis, the Church of the Full Gospel Tabernacle, where he still preaches from time to time until this day.
 
Green and Mitchell successfully recorded eight albums that sold over twenty million copies worldwide until their separation in 1976, when Green began to change his focus to gospel, the religious "sister" of secular soul music. Green subsequently won eight Grammy Awards in gospel categories.
 
In 1977, Green founded his own studio, American Music, and produced the albums The Belle Album in 1977 and Truth and Time in 1978 himself. Despite positive reviews, he could not follow up his previous commercial success.

In 1979, Green accidentally fell off the stage during a concert. Although not seriously injured, he took it as another heavenly message. He decided to switch from secular soul to gospel music. He began to record gospel standards, religious pop and R&B songs.

In the mid-1980s, Green signed to A&M records and recorded "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" with Annie Lennox for the Scrooged soundtrack. It marked his return to secular, mainstream music. In 1989, his duet with Al B. Sure, "As Long as We're Together", became his first Top 40 R&B single in over a decade.

In the 1990s, Green moved to BMG Records and released Your Heart's in Good Hands in 1995, the year in which he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2003, he released his first EMI/Blue Note album, I Can't Stop.

The World's largest selection - Shop now!
 - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com
 - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com
 - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com

 
The World's largest selection - Shop now!
 - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com
 - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com
 - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com




Al Green: Lay It Down, EMI / Blue Note 2008. Order the CD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr or Amazon.de. Who said that soul music is dead? Reverend Al Green's eleven new songs recorded together with guests such as Corinne Bailey Ray, Anthony Hamilton and John Legend sound as good as ever. Lay It Down brings you back to the good old times!
 

Al Green: I Can't Stop. Blue Note / EMI, 2003. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.de.

Sources, literature
EMI; Peter Guralnick Sweet Soul Music p. 303-307; Russell Gersten "Al Green: For the Roses or Free at Last" in The Real Paper, July 10, 1974; Vivien Goldman "Tired ob Being Alone? in Melody Maker, August 25, 1979; Anthony Heilbut "Al Green's Sanctified Solipsism" in The Village Voice, September 27, 1983; Robert Palmer "Memphis Magic: The Al Green Sound" in Rolling Stone, October 25, 1973. Sheet music by Al Green.
 

Al Green. Photo © EMI.



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