Behind an array of rhythm sections, horn sections, backing vocals, and engineering crews, Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together is one of the most impactful soul albums to ever be pressed onto wax. The way that Green can capture in a sense, a timestamp of the 1970’s while maintaining a still current approachability in a modern age over 46-years later is impressive.
It is important to look at Green as a more than a microphone controller, he is a storyteller that manipulates the listener into hearing every single inflection, every single vocalist change, every single slight detail that makes Let’s Stay Togetherdifferent every single time. As Green explains in his title opening “Let’s Stay Together”, there is this method of suave, dimly-lit clubs of the sunset-ridden 1970’s. The golden coast of Green’s style was reliant on the change of drum patterns and smooth string sections that formed the back bone of the cheerful hit. It was Green’s first number one single and marked a changing moment in Green’s career as the horn section plays these bravados and rising actions to fill in the gaps left by the strings. It forms well over the listener, cascading them as Green explains, “Let’s stay together, loving you whether times are good or bad, happy or sad.”
Green is then backed by a vocal team of Donna Rhodes, Sandra Rhodes, and Charles Chalmers who provide more of the light-heartedness behind Green’s approachable sound. Even on the following, “La-La For You” where his the subtle horns that then take to the foreground and illustrate this strong abrasive method. The horns become moving parts in a more intricate puzzle that eventually has Green nearly screaming “It’s for you sure that I’m a man, take the bread out of my hand. Now you wanna know how strong I am, All I can say. La la la la you babe.”
Musically, Let’s Stay Together is a progressive piece that uses Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love, as well as Ed Logan and James Mitchell on the horn section. Jack Hale Sr. also makes an appearance which rounds the section out with Howard Grimes and Al Jackson Jr. on the percussion. The bass guitar is headed by Leroy Hodges with Charles and Teenie Hodges on the stringed instruments like piano and guitar.
With many of the tracks talking about the re-discovery of love, the smooth style of Green, or the bitterness of breaking up; Al Green covers similar topics but makes each track feel as a new journey. He keeps the action continually interesting while relying on the instrumentation changes to keep a flow of motion.
His vocal performance is powerful and actually moving in some instances where “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” comes into frame and displays Green’s ability. Through the slow build-up of organs and the subtly of a sudden action, Green displays high notes that are so passionate and are a perfect send off into the unknown of what would become Al Green’s following success with Let’s Stay Together.