Al Green - Gets Next To You

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GETS NEXT TO YOU, like Green's debut, overflows with cover songs that show this soulster to be a disciple of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Like Redding, Green pulled material from Motown (in this case, a vamped up version of the Temptations' "I Can't Get Next To You") along with less likely rock hits (Green unleashes his unique phrasing on the Doors' "Light My Fire"). Like Cooke, Green made ballads a specialty. "Tired Of Being Alone," which reached the top 20, was the first in a long string of Green ballads to float up the charts. Green's pleading falsetto, set above Teenie Hodges' understated guitar playing, a punchy horn section and creamy-sounding backing vocals, set the bar higher for all ballads recorded afterward.

Because he had such a mastery of slow songs, it's easy to overlook Green's funkier side, which shows up on the Stax-flavored "I'm A Ram" and a rollicking cover of Roosevelt Sykes' "Driving Wheel." And Green tipped his hat to the psychedelic soul movement of the early '70s by writing the Sly Stone-inspired "Right Now, Right Now."