Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Willie Mitchell, who produced all of Al Green's classic albums, died today. It's weird, I wrote about him yesterday: he was supposed to be working on Solomon Burke's next album.

He did some of his own music in the '60s, and also worked with other R&B artists like O.V. Wright and Ann Peebles, but his main legacy is the string of albums he made with Al Green: 1970's Green Is Blues, 1971's Al Green Gets Next To You, 1972's I'm Still In Love With You, 1972's Let's Stay Together, 1973's Call Me, 1974's Al Green Explores Your Mind and 1975's Al Green Is Love. They worked on and off over the years, and reunited this decade for two solid albums, 2003's I Can't Stop and 2005's Everything's OK.

Al Green's '70s albums offer some of the very best music I have ever heard in my life. And a lot of that is down to Al, whose voice is just gorgeous. But there is something magical about the music he did with Willie (vs. the music that he did with other producers). Willie created a more laid back funk that stopped short of being lite music (or "quiet storm"), it still had some grit to it, and it suited Al's singing perfectly. As great as Al is, I think working with Willie Mitchell at Hi Records is what allowed him to thrive in a way that he may not have, had he signed to Stax or Motown or Chess. Thank you for the music Willie.

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