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May 2005

Al Green
Everything's OK
Blue Note Records

Sometime around 1978, Al Green's heart traveled in a new direction from his previous, Top-40 scaling work ("Let's Stay Together," "Tired of Being Alone," etc.). He gave up his ways as a self-described "no good, woman-huntin', champagne drinking, good-time-having, Saturday night blues-singing man," to focus almost exclusively on gospel music for the next 25 years. But only the material changed. Green's unshakeable vocal authority and inimitable rich blend of gutbucket grit and angelic falsetto remained the same. Which made his spectacular return to the secular fold with last year's Grammy-nominated I Can't Stop entirely welcome but, again, given the magnitude of his talent, hardly surprising. Likewise his aptly titled, equally majestic follow-up, Everything's OK. Spanning 11 originals written or co-written by Green and one cover (a butter-soft "You Are So Beautiful"), all the touchstone trademarks are here: the funkified self-awareness ("Magic Road," "I Can Make Music," "All the Time" and the exuberant title track); the percolated joy ("Build Me Up," "Be My Baby," "I Wanna Hold You"); the romantic satisfaction that doubles as religious devotion in "Perfect to Me" and "Nobody But You"; and the fulfilled longing, shot through with glowering sexual energy ("Real Love"). Listening to Everything's OK, particularly the triumphant "Another Day," which ranks among Green's all-time finest achievements, I'm tempted to suggest that three decades have melted away and he's still riding his mid-'70s Hi Records high. Tempting, but unfair, since Green suffered absolutely no intermediary fallow period. Indeed, with Ray Charles now gone, Green can, at long last, give up his long-standing status as prince heir and ascend to the pop-soul throne. Long may he reign.

Originally published in May 2005
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