Picks and Pans Review: Your Heart's in Good Hands
At a recent party for the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack, superproducer Babyface praised Whitney Houston, who performs the film's theme, as "the greatest singer of all time." Huh? Houston has got great pipes for sure, but hasn't Babyface ever heard Al Green sing? R&B may have undergone numerous facelifts in the 15 years since Green, 49, left the genre for straight-up gospel, but the Memphis-based reverend still has one elastic tenor. Amazingly enough, time hasn't eroded its upper range. Green continues to maneuver from guttural growls to squealing falsettos and back with disarming ease.
Unlike his voice, Green's new songs don't offer much of a stretch—the singer remains hooked on "love," with the word popping up in 7 of the 10 titles here—but they manage to be interesting and up-to-date without gratuitously catering to contemporary R & B's young bump-and-grind bunch. "Best Love" and "What Does It Take," with their classic horn-rimmed arrangements, staccato percussion and bluesy, gospel-tinged undercurrents, stand up quite nicely to Green classics like "I'm Still in Love with You" and "Call Me (Come Back Home)." The object of Green's affection these days isn't always as obvious as on those early hits, but whether he's swooning over God or some goddess, the singing reverend delivers one heck of a sermon. Amen. (MCA)