on November 18, 2003
With the title like the one I chose to give this review, you may be asking yourself, why is it the best? It's not only that this 18 track collection is very tight, cohesive, and representative of a living legend, or that there are not possibly 2 or 3 other Al Green greatest hits collections that are almost as good as this one, but for me the statement is a broader one in that out of all the greatst hits collections have been put out EVER, to me this is the one that I would pick if I could only have one over all others. UPDATE: Since this review was first written a 2 CD titled "Absolute Best" was released and that one also blew my mind.
I am a huge music fan and have too many favorites to name, but in the soul/r&b arena they include from Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Ron Isley, Marvin Gaye just to name a few. As much as I consider them all to be natural treasures, there is something so potent about quality of the music that Al put out in his too short career in secular music (1971-1976) that takes him just an inch further in my collection of must haves. I also give this particular greatest hits collection the edge over the re-released version of "Greatest Hits" as it includes the MUST HAVE "Take Me To The River". The song list is as follows
1. Let's Stay Together 3:18
2. Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy) 2:57
3. L-O-V-E (Love) 3:03
4. Tired of Being Alone 2:51
5. Call Me (Come Back Home) 3:03
6. Simply Beautiful 4:14
7. I'm Still in Love With You 3:13
8. Here I Am (Come and Take Me) 4:16
9. Look What You Done for Me 3:05
10. Take Me to the River 3:43
11. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? 6:18
12. You Ought to Be With Me 3:16
13. Let's Get Married 5:35
14. Full of Fire 5:12
15. Livin' for You 3:10
16. Keep Me Cryin' 3:07
17. I Say a Little Prayer 2:12
18. Unchained Melody 5:34
There is simply not a dud in the bunch and the reason is the combination of great material and the most unique voice I've ever heard. Sam Cooke's death in 1964 left a huge void in the world of soul music not filled until Al Green's breakthrough. Although many great male soul singers came and went in the years following Cooke's death, none came close to the smooth and creamy style that translated to consistent cross-over success. While Otis Redding was gritty and James Brown relentless, in Green's hands, R&B was sophisticated and suave. Al Green is so addictive that I am not sure whether his music should illegal or mandatory listening for the masses.
If I only could buy a limited amount of CDs in my lifetime, I would without a doubt consider buying this one, that is how good I think this is. Enjoy!