- Audio CD (November 14, 2000)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Import
- Label: Hi Records UK
- ASIN: B00004YTYF
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,449 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Listen: The Rarities
Thanks in large part to Reverend Al's soul classic 'Let's Stay Together' being prominently featured in the hit film 'Pulp Fiction', a newfound appreciation & interest in this R&B legend amongst both Baby Boomers rediscovering him and Gen Xer's yearning for musical sustenance in a world overrun by a swarm of hollow teenyboppers and bland 'alternative' rockers. Thus 'Listen - The Rarities' is an ideal compilation for disciples new & old looking to expand their collection of quality recordings by the original Rev as it contains a whopping 18 rare tracks, remixes and cuts that were unreleased at the time of the performance. Best of all, no other retrospective like this exists anywhere in the world! 2000 release.Standard jewelcase.
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I've always been a fan of Al Green since he reached number one on the U.S. pop and r&b charts in 1971, with his single "Let's Stay Together". From 1972 to 1975, beginning with LET'S STAY TOGETHER, he released six albums. Each album reached number one on the U.S. r&b charts. The first three were also top ten albums on the U.S. pop charts. I saw him on two tours in those years, and have most of his albums. The recordings in this collection, rate as some of his best work.
The first track, "Love Ritual(Bwana mix)" is a great song with what is described as an Afro-Latin backing track. He sounds as if he's relaxed, in a very good mood and having a great time.
One of the best tracks is "Ride, Sally, Ride", which gives credit to Al Green as songwriter, but sounds as it was based on the song "Mustang Sally", made famous by Wilson Pickett.
He does a secular rewriting of the Johnny Taylor song, "God Is Standing By", titled "I'll Be Standing By", which has the sound of his best work. His cover of Chuck Berry's "Memphis" sounds like a rehearsal. In one verse, he seems to forget the lyrics, laughs, and waits as the band continues to the next verse before he begins singing again, but it's still a great recording and demonstrates how he could take a well known song, and make it his own. According to the recording notes, he abandoned the song in it's early stages, before it was completed. He also does a great cover of "Baby, What's Wrong With You" by Jimmy Reed.
Many of the songs are upbeat, but he also slows it down on some songs, like "Eli's Game" and "Mimi", which is one of five songs in this collection, written by Al Green. One other song, "So Good To Be Here" has his name as a co-writer. Nine songs are credited to "unidentified".
Another of my favorite tracks is "Beware(extended version)". This recording was edited to eight minutes, and released on his 1973 album, LIVIN' FOR YOU, but here we get the full 15:07 recording. His vocals are some of his best ever, and we also hear him picking on an acoustic guitar, which adds a lot to the feeling of the song.
"Surprise Attack/Highway To Heaven" and "Real Love", with one of his best grooves ever, were both recorded on July 8, 1976, and are the beginning of Al Green's transition from secular to gospel music. The next three tracks, "Sweet Song", "Everything To Me" and "Starting All Over Again", all recorded on March 1, 1977, continue the gospel theme.
Al Green cited the incident on October 18, 1974, when he was severely burned with a pan of hot grits, as a wake-up call to change his life. He became an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in 1976, where continues to serve in that capacity. In the years since, he has recorded many gospel albums. He has also returned to recording secular music, with his past two albums.
LISTEN:THE RARITIES includes a booklet with some photos, musical history of Al Green from past to present, and some information about the recording of these tracks. One of my favorite photos is one of Al with a Jackie Wilson style pompadour.
Al Green has one of the best and most versatile voices of any singer, past or present. He and this group of musicians, have always worked well together and created some of the greatest and most popular music ever.
I'm happy Hi Records decided to release these recordings. If you're a fan of the classic Al Green recordings, I think you will appreciate this collection as much as I do. If they have more as good as these, it would be nice to see a volume II.
Unlike the "Love Ritual..." lp, there is room for extended tracks and, with the playing time at almost 80 minutes, this is a Must-Have purchase. Personally, I think it's the best example of his work (though one will still want to own select "classics" like Let's Stay Together and Call Me).