_ You can call

him Al

Like Little Richard, who also took to preaching, Al Green couldn’t quit popular music forever. Alastair Mabbott is glad to welcome him to the Glasgow Jazz Festival.

Every cliche that‘s worth repeating is true. So every

time you stifle a yawn while someone‘s banging on about how the best black American music has grown

out of the tension between the sacred and the sensual.

remember: it's more than just some socio-cultural theory dreamed up by a bunch of Late Show panellists. That's what soul is. It's the line you can draw through Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye (a tortured man who was writing songs like ‘Sanctified Pussy' in his final years in an attempt to get to grips with his situation) to Prince. who continues to blur the carnal and the consecrated.

With Al Green‘s recent decision to expand his repertoire from pure gospel to the soul stylings that made him a living legend. that tradition seems somehow to have been given a fresh injection of life. Cooke. Redding. Gaye . . . so many are dead. but Al Green is again taking to the stage in dapper silk suit and shades. rings on his fingers and lovin‘ on his mind.

Cooke, Bedding and Gaye are dead, but Al Green is again taking to the stage in dapper silk suit and shades, rings on his fingers and lovin’ on his mind.

There had been signs here and there: the l988 duet with Annie Lennox and the fact that he had taken to slipping verses from his old hits into live performances. But last summer. admitting he was ‘tired‘ after singing gospel for twelve years straight. Green started appearing at open-air festivals with an eighteen-piece band on the same bills as Ray Charles. Junior Walker. Gladys Knight and The Stylistics. Shortly after that. he set to work on his

first non-gospel album since the 7()s. roping in talents

like famed New York dance producer Arthur Baker and. controversially. David Steele and Andy Cox of Fine Young Cannibals to give his music a contemporary edge. The resulting album. [)on 'I Look Back. emerged in November and. despite reservations over a duct with Curtis Stigers on the

title track and one song lifted from Charles & Eddie's

album. was greeted with a resounding thumbs-up. Those lucky ones who saw him fronting a pick-up

band at the Tramway in the pre-recording of a

Hogmanay show last December (his first visit to

Scotland in all these years) saw him throw off his jacket and break into ‘Let's Stay Together'. Just like

old times.

But those old times had never gone away. if you

i accept what Green told the press at the time: 1' ‘Because soul music is directly related to gospel

music. If I’m saying “Oh Lord. I don‘t know if I can

face tomorrow" or I‘m saying “Without my baby I don‘t know if I could face tomorrow“. then you see it‘s really in the same desire that I say these things.‘ Since I976. he has of course been the Reverend Al Green. pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis. Received wisdom had it that he was bom again in 1974. after a girlfriend. Mary Woodson. whose proposal of man'iage he had rejected. poured


i boiling grits on to his naked body and then shot

herself with his gun. Green has dismissed this

interpretation ofevents as ‘silly'. insisting he'd

l committed himself to God a full year earlier. but now

3 he is willing to admit that the incident did make him

ll change his ways.

E He says it took fourteen years before he was fully

accepted in the church ‘and still they ponder about it.‘ How his congregation will get used to their pastor reprising ‘How Can You Mend A Broken Heart' and ‘Tired Of Being Alone' once more is up for debate. but the rest of us won‘t need much persuasion.

' Al Green plays Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ml 5 Thurs 7.

_-. .. .094"