Picks and Pans Review: I Get Joy

updated 07/17/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/17/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Al Green

It's not a long distance, either in title or attitude, from Green's 1971 hit, "Let's Stay Together," to his new one, "As Long as We're Together," but the supernal soul singer took quite a journey in between. At the height of his pop stardom, he got religion, being dramatically reborn in a Southern California hotel room in 1973. (Lawdy, Miss Clawdy, shades of Little Richard!) In later years, Green became an ordained minister in Memphis and devotted himself to inspirational music. "As Long as We're Together" marks a scintillating return to his earlier earthly style, I with religious overtones. Mixed by Al B. Sure!, it is up-to-date boom-boom funk of I the first order. Green's voice is still extraordinarily seductive and gripping.

"As Long as We're Together" may be the record's selling point, but Get Joy is by no means a stone soul picnic. It's more of a tent revival meeting. Most of the album contains pop-gospel numbers like "Blessed" and "Mighty Cloud of Joy." "Praise Him" will have the congregation on its feet. At times, as on "You're Everything to Me," Green suggests both the sacred and profane: You can't tell if he's singing to the Lord or a lady, but then, from a listener's standpoint, it doesn't much matter. Rapture is rapture wherever you find it. (A&M)

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