Thursday, 12 February 2009

Al Green - Lay It Down

This is a remarkable album, and for me has to be one of the Legend's best albums in YEARS. This, his third, for Blue Note, sees a move away from Willie Mitchell and his working with the whipper-snappers instead! Before you recoil in horror, this is NOT a half-baked street / urban album, oh far from it. Al teams up with hip hop producer ?uestlove and James Poyser as well as contemporary soul heroes such as Anthony Hamilton, John Legend, the Dap-Kings as well as pop star Corrine Bailey-Rae for this set, and boy does it fire on all cylinders. Willie Mitchell may of well have produced this, and its warming to see that these hip-hop producers can actually turn their hand to real, adult music. If only they did this more often! Both Anthony Hamilton and John Legend gel perfectly with Al Green and his classic style. Their respect, I would imagine, is mutual and you get a keen sense of this throughout the very fabric of this recording. Its very satisfying to hear this, and even more satisfying to see an artist like Al Green still doing the business on a major label.Anthony joins Al on the opening cut, “Lay It Down” and both give a remarkable performance. The style is rootsy, southern and right back to what he was recording for the Hi label back in the early 70s. The lush musical accompaniment is amazing, laid back and unapologetically southern. The sound of Memphis is alive and well and brought bang up to date by Messrs ?uestlove and Poyser. Much respect to you both! You should also love the brassy “Just For Me” which is sandwiched by the second Anthony Hamilton collaboration, “You've Got The Love I Need”. Now, this track is a KILLER. I cannot stop playing this, and already it will remind me of a HOT sunny day. Many an afternoon I have been toiling away in garden in the welcome heat and this song has been perfect. This is one to play loud! God, I love this song...funky, rootsy and brassy with all the elements of an Al Green classic. Al's solo effort “What More Do You Want From Me” is another seriously delicious, summery, highlight which easily equals his best 70s recordings. The gorgeous Corinne Bailey-Rae sounds very tasty and sensual on the duet “Take Your Time”aided by her ability to sound dreamy and erotic, matched to Al's more seasoned approach sounds wonderful. This is without a doubt the best thing she has laid down – for me at any rate. My second jaw-dropper is the AWESOME “Stay With Me (By The Sea)” featuring John Legend. My God, this is everything you could hope for from both gentleman encapsulated in one summery, sultry package. Amazing, simply amazing. This album is due for release at the end of May. Make sure that you set aside some of your hard-earned wages for this album. You cannot do better than order this ASAP. Classy, classy, classy.

Barry Towler