Finally, The Al Green Everyone’s Been Waiting For Arrives

Apr 29th, 2008 // 12 Comments

algreenlayitdown.jpg
ARTIST: Al Green
TITLE: Lay It Down
RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2008
WEB DEBUT: April 28, 2008

ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: Lay It Down, produced by ?uestlove and James Poyser, has been a hotly anticipated album for a while now–and thankfully, it’s pretty good. It’s sort of a strange listen, as the tracks that lack neo-soul guest stars sound like they’re lifted directly from the Willie Mitchell/Hi Records era that Green is most widely known for. The nearly ever-present Dap-King Horns? Check. Solid session guys on guitar and bass? Yep. I could have lived without John Legend’s cameo or the duet between Green and Corinne Bailey Rae, although Anthony Hamilton’s appearances were welcome.

Maybe it’s the long lead time stoking my anticipation, but Down didn’t have many “Wow” moments–it’s a good album, but one that may be a little forgettable in the long-term. Closing track “Standing In The Rain” is the closest to a real highlight; it’s upbeat and layers some hot guitar licks over the swelling horns. It seems wrong to complain about a solid Al Green album (and maybe I’m preparing myself for the stampede of critics ready to proclaim Lay It Down the album of the year), so I’ll just say that in the end, I’m happy to hear Al returning to his classic sound–even if the results might be a bit too safe.

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  1. Chris N.

    It’s definitely the baby-making album of the year (so far).

  2. Weezy F Baby

    shit! i’ve got to get home and grab this, didn’t realize anthony hamilton was on it!

  3. Lucas Jensen

    Didn’t he do an album like this a couple of years ago? Another comeback?

  4. brainchild

    *relives that night back in october ’05 at electric lady studios when they recorded the first notes for this project*

  5. Chris Molanphy

    @Big Gray.: Right, but this time he’s got ?uestlove on it, which is the big news. It’s a “comeback” that might actually connect with, y’know, “the kids today,” etc.

  6. brainchild

    @Chris Molanphy: it’s not just that. It’s the fact that the two comeback albums he did with Willie Mitchell sounded too polished and too clean. This new album connects with that southern grit that you got with each new Al Green album back in the ’70s.

    Special shout out to Chalmers “Spanky” Alford who played guitar on this album. He passed away a few weeks ago.

  7. Lucas Jensen

    @Chris Molanphy: Does anybody REALLY like the Roots, though? I mean, like actual kids? Besides white people like us?

  8. Vince Neilstein

    i saw Green at New Orleans Jazz Fest on Sunday. Amazing!

  9. knots

    as a citiazen of the great/debauched city of Memphis I find it hilarious that people are looking for Al to return to his classic sound while teaming up with modern hip hop / Neo soul stars instead of listening to his last 2 Willie Mitchell produced albums.

    It seems as though what critics really want from Al is to record his songs on a 1976 mixing board that sounds scratchy.
    Listen to the bo-keys.. clean polished and classic funk..it doesn’t have to be “dirty” to sound classic

    …damn crackers

  10. Chump Change

    This baby’s been online for almost a week now.

  11. loudersoft

    Late to this post but I have played this record on repeat for days now. I can’t believe how completely perfect and seamless it is in nearly every way. It captures the Hi Records sound with such precision, I keep swearing this was secretly recorded in 1973 and we just didn’t know about it.

  12. joe bananas

    I cant get enough of this record.

    I liked the last two Blue Note/Willie Mitchell records — “I Cant Stop” a little more than…the other one — but this one to me is what I was expecting those records to deliver.

    Also, WTF “Thought It Out” doesnt make the cut?!

    FWIW, The Roots are one of my fave bands of all time.

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