Everything Is OKis Al Green's second album for Blue Note, following 2003's I Can't Stop. Once again, it's a collaboration with arranger and co-producer Willie Mitchell, a relationship that stretches right back to their classic run of 1970's albums on the Hi label.
The opening title track develops over a mellow disco-funk vamp, setting the tone for most of what follows. Green's voice is understandably paramount to the proceedings, with each song slowlyraising towards aspirited climax. The vocal chorus of Rhodes, Chalmers & Rhodes maintain a call-and-response dialogue, supporting their leader's exhortations.
The Royal Horns and The New Memphis Strings should theoretically provide a rich spread of textures but, in reality, the album's productionsoundsthin, with the band mixed so democratically that there is little light, shade or space. Even Green's vocals have a curious boxed-in acoustic, sounding like some kind of phasing effect was employed.
The Reverend'stestifying is always tightly controlled, but the drama of his voice is diminished by the dullness of the musical setting. There are a few brief instrumental flourishes, with harmonica fills on "I Can Make Music",and afruity saxophone solo enlivening "Be My Baby". But by the time "I Wanna Hold You" arrives, ten tracks in, the formula is becoming very repetitive.
This album suffers in comparison with Solomon Burke's Make Do With What You Got, released in the same month. Burke's sound may be a hybrid of rock, funk and blues - but it always acts to enhance his stentorian emissions. In attempting to appeal to a wider audience Green has opted for a lightweight disco and soft pop-soul vocabulary,watering down the impact of what was once one of soul music's most distinctive voices. --Martin Longley
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