The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

2/27/2005

Al Green - "Tired of Being Alone"

I'm going to mutter a cultural heresy.

I think Al Green is one of the most over-rated singers in the rock/R&B pantheon.

There, I said it. It needed to be said.

How could I say such a thing? He was a singles artist whose best work was done over a very brief time period in the early 70s (1971-1973). Yes he had a rich resonant voice, but his soulful tenor really only hit one emotional note: pent-up, repressed, frustrated sexual tension. No one can seriously argue that a music fan needs more Al Green in his/her collection than his Greatest Hits, especially since the CD repackage adds "Belle" from the original vinyl, which is his one great song from his post-peak period. While a true legend like Aretha Franklin makes you want to mine her back catalog for hidden gems (plague-like avoiding those early years when Columbia Records was trying to make her the black Patti Page), with Al Green, the greatest hits package has it all, and a little more.

I don't understand the elevation of Al Green to "legend." He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame way back in 1995. Saying you like Al Green is generally considered shorthand for saying, "I'm cool." In reality, he was a quality singer, with a resonant voice, who put out some great songs.

My favorite? The first of his great Hi Records to hit big on the pop charts: His plaintive 1971 #11 hit, "Tired of Being Alone." There's more pent-up frustration and sexuality-in-chains than any of his other hits. A great song I never get tired of hearing.

Am I being hyper-critical of Rev. Green? I don't think so. He's a talented singer, but my question is: Is he "Hall of Fame" worthy? Just like pointing out all those mid-century New York Giants have no business in the Baseball Hall of Fame does not diminish those players' actual skills and contributions to the game, pointing out Rev. Green's limitations should not be interpreted as maligning what he has managed to accomplish. "Let's Stay Together" and "I'm Still in Love with You" are still great songs, well-sung with great Willie Mitchell production.

And it's not heretical to point that out.
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