Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who stole the soul?

Here's something you don't see every day: a soul record getting criticized, not for any musical lack, but for a spiritual one. And on Pitchfork, no less...

From the review (of the new Al Green):

The hole in the middle of the album is, in fact, Jesus-shaped. Green's Christianity was always an enormous presence in his music, even before he gave up secular singing for a while; his constant awareness of mortality and divinity is what raised the stakes on his love songs. His best album, Call Me, followed "You Ought to Be With Me" with "Jesus Is Waiting", and the ever-present tension between the sacred and the secular on his records came to a head on 1977's "Belle": "It's you that I want, but it's Him that I need".

There's none of that here-- the closest Green comes is singing about "a love divine" on "Too Much", and he doesn't really mean "divine." Instead, we get flabby romantic couplets ("You're the best thing I ever had/ Losing you, that would make me feel so bad"; "Your love is more than true, oh baby/ It's just, it's just for me and you"). There's no desire here for a person (or a God) that Green wants to bring closer to himself, just an appreciation of someone he's already got. Yes, it's a pleasure to hear Green articulate romantic satisfaction, and good for him if he's satisfied. But the grain and pull of his voice is all about longing for both flesh and spirit, and it doesn't quite fit here. Green's classic records were never just baby-making music, and without a context greater than a shared bedroom, this precise reconstruction of their sound is a ritual that's lost a lot of its meaning.

The Devil may have the best music, but the stuff God cranks out is a close second. (And either are preferable to whatever the hell someone like Richard Dawkins puts on his iPod....)

Speaking of Al Green, you do know the best-ever Green ripoff/tribute was by Keith Richards, don't you? (See it here.)

1 comment:

Zachariah Wells said...

Dawkins doesn't listen to music, he makes it, yo.