Picks and Pans Review: I Can't Stop

updated 01/12/2004 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/12/2004 01:00AM

R&B

Al Green

CRITIC'S CHOICE

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The title of this disc says it all. Though Al Green has been the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis since 1976 and has won eight Grammys in his career for gospel projects, he can't stop being the R&B hitmaker behind such timeless '70s songs as "Let's Stay Together" and "Love and Happiness." So now, after a 27-year hiatus from recording pop albums, Green is back doing what fans remember best. The blaring horns, organ riffs, silky strings and—even better—that soulful falsetto are back. Would it be blasphemous, Reverend Green, to say "Amen"? It would, perhaps, if this CD weren't so good. But musically, Green (teamed again with producer Willie Mitchell) lets loose his trademark sensuality on a dozen new tracks and makes the familiar fresh. From plaintive poetry ("I keep looking at the sun, but it's raining in my heart," on "Rainin' in My Heart") to a rumbling bass beneath the gospel-tinged "My Problem Is You," this is a stylish lovefest of feel-good, groove-driven insistent emotion.

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