Green - Call Me
(Hi) (1972) by Kurt Hernon
There is a thread in the fabric of nearly every important
record from the 1970s that is likely never to be replicated.
Its a weird but deeply affecting fiber that somehow
dug its way into the psyche of not only the United States,
but rather ran deep into the spirit of a worldwide culture
that had, in the aftermath of World War Two, looked to the
USA as some sort of beacon of human possibility. Then the
Yet, in a purely historic sense, the most significant thing
about the 1960s, as much as those who lived them would
likely argue, is that they begat the 1970s. While the
60s were a troublesome awakening, an early development
of an evolving and growing culture, they were merely a seeding,
they were the Junior High that was a meager prelude to the
ugliness of the 1970s. Those years, 1970-1979, were
the brutal adolescence of this, the so-called American century.
The effects of this coming of age period were
not confined to gender, religion, age, nor race, this was
as significant a cultural shifting as has ever occurred in
our times. Somehow, this mood, this groove,
this aura, this sense of the times, the places,
the changes occurring, crept into much of the great music
during these times.
Al Greens Call Me is no exception, but rather it is
an exceptional example - perhaps the finest - of where modern
culture was moving; of how the culture would now be of the
people, for the people, and by the people. And beyond all
of that, away from the significant cultural marker that it
serves as, Call Me still towers as one of the great monuments
to musical possibility, rock, soul, or otherwise. It is, quite
simply, one of the greatest musical achievements of the rockroll
Al Green had been on a roll. Four consecutive records of astonishing
soulfulness, countless hit songs, and an otherworldly command
of a voice that seemed to exist as incontrovertible proof
of the existence of a higher power, had preceded Call Me and
had left little in the way of expectations because there was
no apparent higher plane to which Green could carry his music.
Where else could it all go? So little faith
Being a black man singing in a deeply spiritual fashion (albeit
not quite religious yet, as Rev. Al wasnt
quite ready to make the leap hed later make - successfully
- to full-on religiosity) and covering Hank Williams (Im
So Lonesome I Could Cry) and Willie Nelson (Funny
How Time Slips Away) in the early 1970s was more
of a dicey business than it would likely seem nowadays. But
to cover those songs and to command them, to take them and
strip away any pretensions or preconceptions and to pull the
very human soul out of every fiber of the words and music
and to turn that soul into unrequited beauty - again, as a
black man, a mere four years after the assassination of Martin
Luther King, Jr., in the aftermath of what occurred in Watts,
in the midst of the fading days of Vietnam, under the ham
fisted government attempts at urban renewal, and
during the birth and infancy of Watergate itself, well, for
a black man to soulfully sing a Hank Williams song seems positively
sublime if not absurd.
But Green did just that. He avoided the ephemera of the times;
he tossed the old rules out the window; he laid claim to all
things American, even its beloved hillbilly music, with disregard
to the color of skin, or the definition of religion, or the
pretense of social status
after all, in the end, it was
Jesus who was waiting.
Yet, away from the socio-cultural significance of Greens
musical approach to Call Me, beyond the pieces of his dream,
outside of this grand and peaceful claim to his share of the
American Dream, there stands a record of dizzyingly intimate
soul music. There are warm, soothing, and commanding horn
charts. There is Teenie Hodges guitar, announcing its intention
of trying (trying) to compete with Greens vocals. There
is the intimate and brilliant production of Willie Mitchell,
sustaining a sense of otherworldly confidence throughout the
entire recording. There are songs
strength (Have You Been Making Out O.K.), determination
(Stand Up), joy (Your Love is Like the Morning
Sun), and faith (Jesus is Waiting). But
most of all there is Al Green, and his miraculous voice.
Green runs his voice through all of the paces on Call Me.
It soars; it whispers; it cries; it squeals with joyful glee.
It is an instrument, not the work of human hands, but rather,
I am sure Al would tell us, the work of a God who is always
present. And its enough to make you believe.
Brown: Live at the Apollo (King)
greatest live recording ever made in any genre. I dare
you to check this out. The energy of Brown is so intense that
it will amaze you....
There could be a whole website devoted to Mr. Mayfield, a
giant of an artist who came to his solo career as a legend
through his work with The Impressions. Young artists of today
preaching the black experience have nothing on Mayfield. Listening
to this, you breathe the fumes of the '70s gas guzzlers, you
see the junkies bent over heaving from withdrawal, you hear
the stretching and the squeeking of the vinyl mini skirt on
that passing prostitute and you experience his world. A smoking
cauldron of intense life lessons set to song.
"Theme From Shaft" is one of the most powerful recordings
of all time, a synthesis of innovative '70s production, raw
sexuality and emotion.
and the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin'
On Sly's songwriting is stellar as evidenced by "Family Affair."
Sly began having a serious drug problem during this recording,
and this marks the beginning of a decline for one of the lightning
rods in popular music during the '70s.
Every musical influence rolled into one seismic rush of sexual
musical experience. He plays everything and blows everyone's
mind in the process.
A recording that broke through to the masses and for once
they were onto something good.
James: You and I
The title track has a groove that was monstrous, and the whole
recording has a steamy, funky craziness.
Various Artists: Can You Dig It?
The ’70s Soul Experience The best
collection (6 CDs) of soul recordings ever put together. Definitive.
Here's a review
by Eliot Wilder.
James Brown: Star Time The
James Brown box set. James Brown is soul music and
this is a great collection.