Margie Joseph: Let’s Stay Together
From S/T (Atlantic, 1973)
Monty Alexander: Love and Happiness
Form Rass (MPS, 1974)
Al Brown: >Here I Am (Come and Take Me)
From 7″ (Tit For Tat, 1973)
By the time you’re getting to Al Green’s 1971-72 output – Let’s Stay Together, I’m Still In Love With You and Call Me, you’re talking about his most famous, most popular, most reissued material, hands-down. Posting up anything from these three LPs would be like posting up Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On?” If you don’t have that by now…well, you should hang your head in shame and pay penance to the Church of Soul and Salvation.
So, instead, I decided to pick out covers of some of the best-known song from each of these three albums, starting with Margie Joseph’s sultry version of Green’s biggest hit, “Let’s Stay Together.” It’s a loyal cover, doesn’t divert in an extreme way but I like hearing a female voice handle Green’s classic. The arrangement and orchestration is nicey too.
Not only is this one of my favorite Al Green songs, but the way Monty Alexander (along with Ernest Ranglin) approach it is so amazing in nodding both to the original yet transforming the song. Some hip-hop heads will pick up on the various samples in here but really, the song is so much more than that. Ranglin’s guitar work is absolutely gorgeous and Alexander’s choice to use an electric piano is perfect, giving the song a vibe and character that couldn’t have been possible with an acoustic. This is like joy transmuted into a song.
Last, we have Al Brown giving “Here I Am” a reggae makeover that’s loyal to the original but clearly brings in a ska influence to the rhythm section. I dig the guitar especially.