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The Absolute Best

Al Green 12/7/2004


Colin Escott's informative, quote-filled liner essay for this two-disc compilation is called Al Green at Hi Records, and that may well have been a better title for the set than The Absolute Best. While it would be foolish to argue that Green's brilliant sides for Hi -- superbly produced by Willie Mitchell and featuring the impassioned and idiosyncratic vocal performances that were Green's hallmark -- are not his best work, there's still enough great music to be found in Green's later gospel recordings and occasional post-Hi secular sessions that a comprehensive collection of the man's music (especially one of this length) ought to at least acknowledge the full breadth of his legacy. But that grumbling aside, this is a fine and deeply pleasurable overview of the commercial peak of Green's career, which covers his biggest hits along with plenty of worthy lesser-known cuts. Green's records didn't sound quite like anyone else's during his 1970-1978 heyday, thanks to the uncluttered snap of Al Jackson's drums, Teenie Hodges' spidery guitar lines, the sweet-and-sour horn charts, and string sections that softened the edges without robbing the sessions of their funky power, and Green's vocals, which blended a love man's pleadings with a melismatic fervor that came straight from the church, were even more compelling than their backdrops. This set features 34 examples of Green's magic in action, with a handful of rare and unreleased tracks sitting alongside classic singles like "Let's Stay Together," "Tired of Being Alone," "Still in Love With You," "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)," and (of course) much, much more. This is a pretty hefty package for a "Greatest Hits" set, but if there's ever been an artist whose work has an addictive power, it's Green, and the heft of this package should satisfy both fans looking for a solid stand-alone collection of Green's years at Hi and dabblers who are looking for the hits. ~ Mark Deming
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Strong as Death, Sweet as Love Al Green 4:20
  3. 2 Love and Happiness Al Green 5:8
  4. 3 Let's Stay Together Al Green 3:18
  5. 4 I'm a Ram Al Green 3:48
  6. 5 I've Never Found a Girl Al Green 3:42
  7. 6 Driving Wheel Al Green 3:1
  8. 7 La-La for You Al Green 3:31
  9. 8 I Can't Get Next to You [Cover] Al Green 3:49
  10. 9 So You've Leaving Al Green 2:56
  11. 10 Tired of Being Alone Al Green 2:53
  12. 11 Look What You Done for Me Al Green 3:7
  13. 12 I'm Still in Love With You Al Green 3:14
  14. 13 Sweet Song [Previously Unreleased] Al Green 3:26
  15. 14 Love Is Real [Previously Unreleased] Al Green 4:42
  16. 15 Funny How Time Slips Away [Cover] Al Green 5:35
  17. 16 You Out to Be With Me Al Green 3:18
  18. 17 How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? Al Green 6:24
  19. 1 Love Ritual [Remix] Al Green 4:15
  20. 2 Here I Am (Come and Take Me) Al Green 4:16
  21. 3 Call Me (Come Back Home) Al Green 3:4
  22. 4 Livin' for You Al Green 3:13
  23. 5 Rhymes Al Green 3:36
  24. 6 God Blessed Our Love Al Green 3:56
  25. 7 Let's Get Married [LP Version] Al Green 5:35
  26. 8 Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy) Al Green 2:59
  27. 9 Take Me to the River Al Green 3:46
  28. 10 Oh Me, Oh My (Dreams in My Arms) Al Green 2:49
  29. 11 L-O-V-E (Love) Al Green 3:10
  30. 12 Got to Be More (Take Me Higher) Al Green 2:42
  31. 13 Together Again Al Green 5:21
  32. 14 Full of Fire Al Green 5:14
  33. 15 Belle Al Green 4:51
  34. 16 Keep Me Cryin' Al Green 3:8
  35. 17 Simply Beautiful Al Green 4:9

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