Friday, May 27, 2005

Al Green Threatens To Pummel All Comers. Willie Mitchell Looks On... Posted by Hello

Now we're talking. See, I listened to the crowds, the business men and women, the cats on the corner and yes, I'll say it, the freaks. We've all got one thing in common: We want to hear some Al Green. We like reading about him too. Everything's Ok is good stuff...

Al Green’s-Everything’s Ok- Blue Note Records.

Al Green doing secular music isn’t too much of a surprise. Throughout his over 30 year career he’s been straddling between the religious and romantic often blurring the lines to the point where it seemed to freak him out. No worries here however. This biggest surprise is that Green is again paired with Willie Mitchell, the producer/mentor responsible for Green’s brilliant musical and commercial run in the ‘70s. For those who thought that 2003’s I Can’t Stop was the definitive statement, Everything’s OK is simply a sharper, less polite and more engrossing affair

The title track pretty much sums up this CD’s ethos; coasting on great groove rather than offering great songs. Like most of Green’s better and charmed efforts, Everything’s OK does get an amazing performance out of nowhere on Bruce Fisher and Billy Preston’s patently overripe “You Are So Beautiful.” It’s certainly not the world’s greatest song but Green gives it his full attention as the arrangement is as fulfilling and oddly sweet. The very idea of it seemed so spawn the sturdy, “Perfect to Me.”

Everything's OK like the best of Green’s best work with Willie Mitchell finds most of its emotion in pretty, well-arranged mid-tempo tracks. The playful “Build Me Up” sneaks in jazzy chords, smart changes and has Green harmonizing with himself, gladly doing the “love notes” he seemingly had sworn off of by the Carter administration. The equally horny, “I Wanna Hold You” gets there a whit better with its kinetic production and swaggering horn arrangement.

All through Everything’s OK it’s clear that Green is actually sounding like Al Green again which might be shocking for his longtime fans. Really the stuff is so good here the only true bump on this “Magic Road” is the low octane shuffler, “I Can Make Music.” It’s “all better” by the close of Everything’s OK however. The potentially cutesy and disposable “All the Time” is saved by a funky, hard rocking bridge. If there’s only downer, it’s the sound of this CD. Sometimes low hi-fi and veering towards the mono zone, it’s a far cry from the sonic excellence of 70’s Mitchell/Green product. That being said, with Green willing to embrace his eccentricity and charisma, Everything's OK proves to more than live up to its title.

Jason Elias
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