Review #427: Call Me, Al Green

Karla Clifton
2 min readAug 9, 2023

#427: Call Me, Al Green

Dig deep — you remember Al Green. I’m Still In Love With You, #306, smiling in white like the Wizard of Oz. Call Me came a year after Still In Love, and Let’s Stay Together was a bit before that. (Why would RS include Green’s Greatest Hits (#456) but not Let’s Stay Together? Whatever.)

This is the last album Green put out before his world was rocked by tragedy in 1974, when girlfriend Mary Woodson threw boiling hot grits all over his body and then shot herself. After a stage injury five years later, Green turned to gospel music and pastoring for a while. He certainly had a turbulent life, and his life continues to be touched by turbulence: his sister, Maxine, is still missing.

Green’s voice is downy soft, his falsetto never strained even when it’s literally cracking with tenderness (“Have You Been Making Out OK”). He croons over his backup singers like a throatier Bing Crosby (“Call Me (Come Back Home)”). Sometimes he barely whispers (“Your Love Is Like the Morning Sun,” a duet between him and a set of strings pretending to be horns).

Green’s covers are surprising takes on country standards: a gospeled-up Hank Williams“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and a sexier Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away.” Somehow the most country-fried song on the record is “Jesus Is Waiting,” a song that tackles a common country topic but mixes the horny string section with a remarkably restrained acoustic guitar. (If you came to Green for more straight-soul-sex jams, though, you can still find some: see “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” “You Ought to Be With Me.”)

I think some R&B really hits for me, and some really doesn’t. I can’t figure out why I so prefer Sam Cooke to Al Green. Does anyone have a recommendation for the best Al Green live album? I’m interested in what these songs sound like when they’re, you know, alive.

Least Favorite: “Stand Up.” It’s just not the best “Stand” song I’ve ever heard.

Fun Fact: In 1976, Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw ALSO released a cover of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” And it did WELL. It peaked at #17 on the country singles chart, and #91 on the US Hot 100.

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