Compilations of two sonic soul forces

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Barry White – Al Green

Al Green

UNIVERSAL

LOVE: THE ESSENTIAL AL GREEN

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White’s elaborate productions, with their captivating bass and pseudo-sophisticated strings, still await their critical due. Love Songs differs from previous White compilations in that we get full-length album versions of symphonic soul epics like “Never Gonna Give You Up”, reminding us of their debt to ’60s psychedelia (those harpsichords and atonal string intros), while 1991’s “Dark And Lovely” proves his creativity never dried up.

Al Green’s art, in contrast, was minimalist. Memphis-based producer Willie Mitchell cut out all echo, and Green’s voice is far more vulnerable (“Livin’ For You”). Most of this two-CD set’s 35 tracks sound self-enclosed, yet their subtle force remains evident, particularly on “Simply Beautiful”, where his intimate vocals seem to?as his ’74 album had it?explore your mind.