Al Green Gets Funky With ?uestlove On New Album

Al Green is at work on his next Blue Note studio album with the Roots' Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson in the producer's chair. The as-yet-untitled disc has been in the works for two years already, but Tho

Al Green is at work on his next Blue Note studio album with the Roots' Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson in the producer's chair. The as-yet-untitled disc has been in the works for two years already, but Thompson tells Billboard.com he is hoping to finish it up in September.

The pairing came to fruition after Thompson "ran my big mouth" and told [Blue Note senior director of A&R] Eli [Wolf], "'Yo, man. You want a real Al Green record? Come see me.' So now I've got to live up to that."

Thompson admits he has a very specific sound in mind for the follow-up to Green's 2005 album "Everything's O.K.," and that he has met with some resistance about seeing it through. "If it were up to me and it was absolutely totalitarianism, I would live all my derivative fantasies out on this record," he says. "It would be 1974 all over again, sonically. I think they're still getting used to that."

One of the difficulties, according to Thompson, is that veteran artists see their peers reaping commercial rewards by pairing with young, hot talent and have trouble resisting the urge to jump on that bandwagon.

"If you're going to compete with T.I., Chamillionaire and Jay-Z, then by all means, let's try and reach the kids of today," he says. "But if you put the dart in your hand and you're not going to hit a bullseye, you're better off just doing what you know best."

"I'm not saying Al Green wants to do his version of [Chamillionaire's] 'Ridin',' but for veterans, their examples are the Santana of 1999 and the Tony Bennett and Rod Stewart of today," he continues. "They're thinking, 'Okay, that is going to get me to the Grammy podium. Someone phone up John [Legend], Alicia [Keys] and Corinne [Bailey Rae] and let's get on Adult Contemporary radio.' I'm trying to get them out of that mode. It'll be a struggle but I think at the end of the day it will be a quality record."

Green recently enjoyed his highest-charting album on The Billboard 200 since 1975 when "The Definitive Greatest Hits" debuted at No. 46. He has a handful of live performances on tap in the coming months, beginning April 29 at the Tobago Jazz Fest.