Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No. 285: I'm Still in Love With You

Band: Al Green
Album: I'm Still in Love With You
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: One of Green's classic albums, "I'm Still in Love with You" has him doing rock standards and his usual sugary sweet R&B.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I have not really fallen in love with Green.
Best song: The title track is great.
Worst song: "Oh, Pretty Woman" is bad.
Is it awesome?: I don't think so.

One of the fun things about this project is doing the research for each album. In the original 1972 review for "I'm Still in Love With You," Rolling Stone reviewer Vince Aletti writes:

Both Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield are taking steps in these same directions but neither have that certain ego-driven Star Quality that would qualify them as top contenders for the long-vacant Otis Redding heavyweight spot

Weird, eh? Withers has no albums on the list, though I'd argue that "Still Bill" deserves a spot. Mayfield has one proper album and one compilation with the Impressions. Green has two proper albums and a greatest hits compilation.

So, just as in 1972, Al Green wins out.


Maybe it's because I tend towards being a contrarian or maybe it's because I just don't like too much sugar in vocals, but I'm not in love with Al Green. Certainly hearing him do "Oh, Pretty Woman" is odd. Not in that he's playing a rock and roll standard -- Otis played several in his time. Rather, it's striking to hear such a different version that is so very inferior to the original and -- to a lesser extent -- another version (Van Halen's cover on "Diver Down").

Still, the highlights of the record are pretty excellent. The album highlight, "Love and Happiness," was never released as a single but radio devoured it. It's a wonderful little song, influenced as much by a preacher's sermon in rhythm as it is by the church of Otis Redding.

"Look What You've Done for Me" and the title track are nice little romantic songs and "Simply Beautiful" is sweet. Green's version of the Kris Kristofferson-penned "For the Good Times" is much better than Green's version of Orbison's classic, certainly.

I wouldn't heap the praises RS has (both in 2003 and in 1972), but "I'm Still in Love with You" is one of Green's best albums. He's still a greatest hits artist for me, but this one is not bad.

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