My Favorite Records:Al Green – Call Me

As we meander through my vast record collection, we are done with the numbers and now move into the letters. Because records are indexed on my music server under the artists’ first name, we’ll use the same convention here.

As my roommates and anyone else who knew me in college will gladly attest, from 1978-1982 was the middle of my “Al Green Phase.” I had such a jones for Al that for most of 1981 I hardly listened to anything else. I pretty much wore out all his pre-1976 records, but Call Me, from 1973, was and remains my favorite.

allgreencallmeIt starts out with the most soulful title track, which just may be the best boy longs for girl song ever. Next is the mellow, groove-filled Have You Been Making Out OK. It’s hard to describe what a hip, sad, cool, wistful vibe this song has. Stand Up puts a funky horn arrangement to an empowerment message. There are two excellent country covers- Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and Willie’s Funny How Time Slips Away, the latter being my definitive version of the song. My two favorite songs are at the end of the record. You Ought to Be with Me, is a theme song for every guy who ever courted a girl. Jesus is Waiting is so funky that you have to pay attention to the words to remember that it’s a gospel number.

Oh, and by the way, there’s another top ten hit that I didn’t even mention- Here I Am (Come and Take Me).

The songs are all excellent, but what makes this my favorite Al Green record is the tight arrangements and excellent playing. Great guitar and horns (by the renowned Menphis Horns) throughout. And I don’t know what Al paid the drummer on these sessions (Booker T and the MGs drummer, Al Jackson, who also played on many of Otis Redding’s records, including Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay), but it wasn’t enough. This record is a clinic on how a drummer can be understated and still chase the melody. There is no song on which the drumming is front and center, but there is no song on which you don’t tap along with the beat.

I had an old Marantz stereo and speakers in my room in our apartment back then (Broadmoor Apartments, Winston-Salem, NC). I’d sit in this orange garage sale chair I had and listen to Al for hours and hours.

A great record by a master of soul.

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