ARTIST: Al Green
TITLE: Back Up Train
YEAR RELEASED: 1967
CHART ACTION: #162, #37 US R&B
SINGLES: Back Up Train (#41, #5 R&B), Don’t Hurt Me No More (#127), A Lover’s Hideaway
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No. This didn’t get a lot of run.
LINEUP: Al Green, Palmer James, Curtis Rogers and others
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First release from the smooth soul singer with his early group the Soul Mates. It led to his recording contract in Memphis.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A little label, formed by two friends of Al Green, got one of their singles on the R&B charts and almost on the Top 40. Such was a possibility in 1967.
The single, “Back Up Train” was a great showcase for Green, who had the raw materials already to become a successful soul singer. His issue was he was trying to be more of an imitator than creator. That worked to a success, as James and Rogers wrote songs to fit his various personas, but it made Green sound a bit generic (as much as you can make Al Green sound generic).
I’m really surprised the record is a strong and deep as it is. While nothing is earth shattering, nor are the rest of the cuts as good as the main single, it’s all enjoyable 60’s soul music. You can’t go wrong with just putting it on and listening to a young Al Green.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Green’s father caught him listening to Jackie Wilson and kicked him out of the house.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: B-: There are 13 pretty decent cuts of 60’s soul here, and one pretty decent single to top it all off.