In the early and mid-1970s, the release of songs like Let's Stay Together, Love and Happiness, Tired of Being Alone and Take Me to The River made Al Green one of the most successful soul and pop singers in the world. However, as the decade progressed, Green suffered an existential crisis, prompted by a questioning of his own increasingly decadent lifestyle, as well as by the death of a girlfriend who scalded him with hot grits before shooting and killing herself.
He also claims to have had a religious reawakening after performing a concert at Disneyland, as well as periodic meltdowns on stage. All of this led to his abandonment of popular music, his purchase of a Memphis church building, his installation of himself as the pastor of that church, and the start of a part-time career as gospel artist. Robert Mugge's 1984 film Gospel According to Al Green documented the seventh-anniversary service at Green's Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, a rehearsal in his Memphis recording studio, an extended interview and a concert at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.
Also interviewed for the film were legendary record producer Willie Mitchell, who produced and co-wrote Green's most famous soul hits, and music and TV critic Ken Tucker, who helped to place Green's accomplishments in a larger cultural context.
In short, as presented in the film, Green's story is a mythic tale about a rhythm and blues artist who started out singing love songs to women, but ended up singing similar songs to God. In other words, as Mugge once said when introducing screenings of Gospel According To Al Green, "This is a film about love; a film about the connections between soul music and gospel; and a film about a man who flew too close to the sun, got his eyeballs burned, and has been singing ever since with fire coming out of his mouth."
Thanks to the film's 4K remastering, the power of Green's performances and the intimacy of his storytelling, have never shone more brightly.
"GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AL GREEN IS AN IMPORTANT DOCUMENT, NOT ONLY FOR HIS REMINISCES BUT FOR THE ENERGETIC, SOULFUL PERFORMANCES OF HIS SOUL CLASSICS AND GOSPEL STANDARD" - dvdtalk.com
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