Born in 1946 as Al Greene, in Arkansas, not far from Memphis, Tennessee, which later became his home. He's part of the "Fraternity of E" (that I just made up) - Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye (and, briefly, Dionne Warwick/Warwicke) tacked one on; Al took his off. A singer of the highest rank; the Voice of Memphis, after Stax Records fizzled in the 70s. He (with producer Willie Mitchell and the Hi Records house band) made the radio a rare joy of a listen, with songs like "Love and Happiness", "L-O-V-E", "Here I Am", "Call Me", "Still in Love with You", new flavors of the laid-back soul music that had won the city its 60s fame. A cover of his "Take Me to the River" became Talking Heads' further ticket into the mainstream (had they continued to be identified only with "Psycho Killer", it would have left them a cult band at best; in the finest Everything tradition, I should mention that "River" was one of Brian Eno's earliest productions with the band).

But it's a hard life being "L-O-V-E on Two Legs": relationship troubles (including having hot grits thrown on him during a domestic dispute) had him turning, with some struggle, to The Lord, culminating in The Belle Album, with its line "It's you that I want, but it's Him that I need", thus turning the notion of soul-as-secularized-gospel-music on its head. He went into the ministry (he's now pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis), and, for years, refused to sing any of his old material, other than, perhaps, gospel stuff that might have been in the old Greene Brothers pre-stardom repertoire. After a few testing-the-waters poppish religious albums, he returned to singing his old hits - he does so now with a renewed joie de vivre that is one part Class Clown and one part Lover Man of old; his performance on Paula Poundstone's extremely short-lived (blink, and you missed it; Joel Hodgson joined the ranks of the unemployed) TV "series" stole the show.

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