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Al Green Balancing New, Old Sounds

Of the Oakland Press

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Al Green and his producers had a bit of a collision of sensibilities while making his latest album, “Here I Am.” But the R&B legend says it was a friendly one.

“I thought today’s music would have to be played, because that’s where we are in time,” explains Green, 62, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee in 1995. But Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson of the Roots and James Poyser were thinking more of vintage Green, the R&B legend whose wealth of ’70s hits includes “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Tired of Being Alone” and “I’m Still in Love With You.”

“I think the concept of retaining some of the sound of ’75 and ’76 and ’72, that was real good,” Green acknowledges, “and I think they did a great job with it. They mixed it up quite well and still came up with a good product, I thought.”

The album pairs Green with young hitmakers John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae and Anthony Hamilton, with the Dap Kings horn section — which works with Amy Winehouse — playing behind them. Thompson says he

views “Here I Am” as the true followup to “The Belle Album,” Green’s 1977 “farewell” to secular music, and the coproducer also balked at using too many guests because “you run the risk of losing yourself” amid the high-profile duet partners.

Green, however, says he would have been happy to have even more folks on the album.

“We were gonna work with Aretha Franklin ... and D’Angel, but we never did get to do that,” he says. “We can’t work with everybody at one time — I know that. I like Anthony Hamilton’s work; I think he’s good. I think Corrine Bailey Rae is a very exciting artist, and

John Legend’s doing real good.

“I just sing with people I like, and I’m blessed they want to come sing with me, too. It’s a good situation.”

Al Green and Alicia Myers perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday (July 11) at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, 14900 Metropolitan Parkway at Schoenherr Road, Sterling Heights. Tickets are $55 and $35 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (586) 268-5100 or visit www.freedomhill.net.

Web Site: www.freedomhill.net

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