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Al Green

Green River

AlR&B/soul legend Al Green collaborates again with longtime producer/mentor Willie Mitchell on "Everything's OK," due this week via Blue Note. It's the follow-up to 2003's "I Can't Stop," which was his first secular album with Mitchell at the helm since 1976. "This ain't something we wrote 20 years ago and put out," he says. "This is happening now. This is fresh cream."

Also on hand for the singer's return engagement at Memphis' Royal Studios were backing vocalists Donna Rhodes, Charlie Chalmers and Sandra Rhodes (aka Rhodes/Chalmers/Rhodes) and bassist Leroy Hodges. Additional musicians include the eight-piece New Memphis Strings.

Green adds "Rev." to his billing on "Everything's OK." But he deftly deflects questions about his ongoing sacred/secular balancing act by talking about his parishioners.

"Like I told members of my church [Full Gospel Tabernacle]: Every mother in the church ought to know what [the single "Perfect to Me"] means," Green says between hums. "The mothers started smiling and moving around, but they wouldn't look at the pastor. But you can't fool me."