GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AL GREEN
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The soulful story of an R&B legend
"A powerful vocal spectacle . . . James Brown times ten." --Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
"A revelation. Pure musical electricity." --The Boston Phoenix
Al Green was a soul singer with a million-dollar career when he awoke one day in a hotel room praising God. Full of this new spirit, he became a gospel singer and a Pentecostal preacher. Award-winning filmmaker Robert Mugge (New Orleans Music in Exile, Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus) examines Green’s life and music in intimate interviews, passionate performances ("Let’s Stay Together," "Free at Last," "Amazing Grace"), and a sermon both spoken and sung--a fiery crescendo of conviction, inspiration, and joy. Filmed in the recording studio, in concert at Bolling Air Force base, and at Green’s church in Memphis, Tenn., powered by his energy, honesty, and incandescent smile, this is an indelible portrait of an artist who takes you higher.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE 90-minute audio interview with Al Green, reflections by director Robert Mugge, concert excerpts, extended song, extended audio excerpt of church service, original theatrical trailer, and discography.
Now that's filmmaking! Grade: A- -- The A.V. Club / The Onion
Rich with solid storytelling. -- MovieWeb
The interviews are note-worthy and the performances are often electrifying. -- DVD Talk
[The Gospel According to Al Green & Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus] give Mugge and we viewers the greatest gift: the outpourings of their immediate, fully-committed inspirations -- Jazz Beyond Jazz blog
[The Gospel According to Al Green & Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus]blend insights and splendid, rare performance footage in a manner that distinguishes them from basic concert or documentary items. -- Nashville City Paper
[The Gospel According to Al Green & Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus]hold up well as vital profiles of their subjects at turning points in their lives, each combining a concert film with a journalistic backstory. -- The Wall Street Journal
supreme craftsmanship -- All Movie Guide
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Top Customer Reviews
It’s worth every cent and it will never grow old.
The first time I saw “The Gospel According To Al Green” was on PBS when I was in high school. I have since owned over a dozen copies that I have loaned out to various people in who’s possession it has mysteriously disappeared and I have had to buy a new copy.
I’ve never regretted spreading the love…
Thanks to my parents I was already a huge soul R&B fan with Al Green, The Temps and James Brown as my faves; and I had just seen James Brown live (with the JBs) and was fiending for more live stuff. “The Gospel According to Al Green” took me totally by surprise it changed the way I heard and played music from then on.
In this, Robert Mugge's 1984 documentary we get to see Al Green in his home studio, being interviewed, plucking a Gibson electric guitar, singing way "I love you with all my heart," picking out a few notes here and there and telling you about how he did this or felt about that and you really feel like you’re sitting there talking to the guy. A few minutes later, “Al” tells you the story about early in his career when he not getting paid for a show in Dallas, then he’s telling you about driving back home to Michigan, his girlfriend with him, he sings a new song he'd written, "Tired of Being Alone"…strumming the guitar the whole time mind you, stopping in the middle of story where the song and story intersect, culminating the tale with, "The girl said, 'Would you please put that thing down, you're driving me nuts,'" …he stops, thinks and remembers suddenly, his perma-grin surging to 1200 lummens and he finally says, "But I was gone on that song."
Throughout every interview, when songs are mentioned, he ‘ll weave bits of singing in and out of the conversation fluently as if the music was part of his particular dialect.
In a sentence, “The Gospel According To Al Green” is the a story of pop-music lore now; of an R&B singer, who gave up a meteoric singing career to become a gospel minister; in his own words.
Al Green, a Michigan soul singer with Southern roots, discovered by Memphis producer Willie Mitchell in Texas, lured to Tennessee; and how Green and Mitchell collaborated perfect that now familiar, unique soul sound that bridged 60s edge and 70s silk. You get his almost Sam Cooke moment when he was scalded with hot grits by an crazy lover, who then killed herself and the dramatic “born again” moment of his religious awakening; abandoning pop music “to peach the word” at his own Memphis church — the Full Gospel Tabernacle on Hale Road.
If you’ve a fan, you’ll be a mega fan. If you’ve been under a rock or on Gilligan’s Island up until now, you’ll be an instant fan; but, being a music collector, a musician and history geek I can honestly say that I have never heard ay story of any musician’s journey told with as much intimacy and honesty as is told, by Al himself, and his friends, in “The Gospel According to Al Green”.
“The Rev” is candid and friendly and sincere, but something about hearing the words in his tender, soulful and amazing voice, you can watch, hypnotized as he sings and tells you his life story with the same charm and soul as he sings and performs.
In “The Gospel According to Al Green” we see alone in his home studio (my favorite part), on stage at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C. for a "Black History Week" concert, and finally, preaching the word at the Full Gospel Tabernacle.
Also interviewed are Willie Mitchell, Al Green’s seminal producer and collaborator, at Royal Studio, where most of Al’s greatest work was recorded, and pop critic Ken Tucker, calling “The Revthe synthesis of “the soft, wounded style of Smokey Robinson and the grit of Wilson Pickett"
Director Mugge wisely keeps the documentary to what’s important: Al Green talking, singing, and preaching — AMAZING one and all.
There are riveting performances of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" and deep gospel standards like "Nearer My God to Thee" oven masterfully in with rivetingly, candid accounts of the "grits" incident, his middle-of-the-night religious awakening and his impulsive purchase of his church.
"You know how I wrote the check?," Green asks, reaching into the breast pocket of his suit and pulling out his glasses. "Out of a little book I had in my pocket. Just a little pad book. Not even a real, real, real book. Just a little pad book. "I wrote the check right on out for the whole building," Green says, running his fingers over his glasses as if they were the checkbook. "And signed it," he says, waving his hand dismissively. "Through with that. Cause see, now, Sunday I'm preaching. That's all."
Striking is immediately noticeable how little difference there is between Al Green's speaking, singing, and preaching. What you see if what you get and he is present in every moment and improvisational, his voicing always wavering between between speech and song.
This is a film about love and soul music and gospel, and a guy who’s been singing with fire coming out of his mouth ever since….and to borrow a title “The Rev” the is “full of fire” in this film.
This Robert Mugge documentary captured Green at his most contemplative and charismatic. Get it, set aside a night when you can focus your attention and watch it with your best gal/guy and you will share a meaningful experience. A nice California red of your choice would be a fine accompaniment.
has performances along with commentary and colleagues of Green sharing their memories!
Great for a gospel collection and appreciation of Al Green
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