Al Green: Tired of Being Alone + Light My Fire
From Gets Next To You (Hi, 1971)
Also available on The Immortal Soul of Al Green
From what I can tell, the consensus “best” Al Green albums are the holy trinity of Let’s Stay Together, I’m Still In Love With You, and Call Me which oddly leaves the also-excellent Gets Next To you out in the cold. I always thought of this LP as a sleeper hit: you maybe not notice it at first but once you discover it, you’ll wonder how you got by without it.
Apart from being Green’s first major success on Hi (the preceding Green Is Blues did modestly well), this also has some of the best Green songs outside of the trinity albums. Green and producer Willie Mitchell were still developing the sound that Green would eventually become known for and you hear the tantalizing early manifestations on “Tired of Being Alone,” a slow-tempo groover held down by the incomparable Al Jackson on drums and nicely accented by Chalmers and Rhodes on background vocals. It’s like a ballad you can dance to (or a dance cut you can swoon to) and allows Green to explore the full range of his voice.
As for “Light My Fire,” Green was apparently reluctant to cover such a well-known song but in tackling the Doors’ classic, Green and the Hi Rhythm Section completely transform the tune into their own. The transition between Green’s practically talking through the first set of lyrics and crooning his way into the chorus (which he flat out kills) is brilliant. Not to take anything away from Jim Morrison and company but this one of those covers that equals, if not exceeds, the original.