When I was just a youngun’ I fell in love with Al Green. I was probably 11 or 12. It was my mama’s fault. She was a complete and utter Al Green fiend, nutcase, crackpot! She wore green clothes in his honor! She simply adored the man. And as I listen to these following songs, at this time, 35 plus years later, I completely understand why. Who doesn’t know and love him? He has the most beautiful, soulful voice this side of heaven! Mr. Albert Greene was born on April 13, 1946 in Forest Park, Arkansas. He was the 6th of 10 children born to his parents, Robert and Cora Greene. When Al was 10 years old he was part of a group called the Greene Brothers and they toured extensively in the 1950s.
One day, Al made the mistake of listening to Jackie Wilson in his father’s earshot, so he was kicked out of the Greene Brothers group. This didn’t deter Al, since he later hooked up with some high school buddies and put together the group, Al Greene and the Creations, which was later changed to Al Greene and the Soul Mates. The band had a hit called Back Up Train on the RandB charts, but couldn’t follow it up. Al Greene later met the band leader Willie Mitchell of Memphis’ Hi Records in 1969 and was hired first as a vocalist then later signed with his label.
Mitchell saw the potential in Al and predicted that he’d be successful. He encouraged and coached Al to develop his own powerful and expressive singing voice and stop copying the styles of his musical heroes, Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, James Brown and Sam Cooke. Mitchell arranged, engineered and produced Al’s songs. Al’s first album, Green is Blues, was a slow, soulful, horn driven, with that famous Memphis style, but was only a moderate success. The second album, Al Green Gets Next to You, was the massive success that Mitchell predicted. Lets Stay Together, Call Me, I’m Still In Love With You, and Al Green Explores Your Mind followed and were even bigger! The women were swooning all over America! There was one woman in particular, Mrs. Mary White, who wanted Al for herself, even though she was married. And the famous grits incident occurred, where she poured boiling grits on Al while he was in the shower, causing him third degree burns over his back, arms and stomach.
All of that aside, we MUST admit and concede that there’s no one who can beat Al Green’s expressive and sensually angelic (?) voice. There is one who actually had the nerve to try, and comes somewhere in the vicinity–Maxwell, singing Simply Beautiful, but there’s no Memphis Sounds connected with it! Queen Latifah gave it a shot as well. As for Al’s voice, I could feel it when I was just a child, even though I don’t really know what it was I felt. His awesome voice is Simply Beautiful!!