The Belle Album is the last great secular record Al Green made before turning his life over to preaching the Gospel. (He returned to the Hi formula in 2003 with I Can't Stop, but that's another story.) It is the first album Green produced himself, and the first to feature only his compositions, most co-written with bass man Reuben Fairfax and keyboard player Fred Jordan. The production isn't as crisp as it was on his classic Hi albums, even on this reissue; still, the songs are every bit as compelling. "Loving You" celebrates secular and spiritual love with Green's usual fire. "All in All" drops a bit of Motown into its rhythm, one of the most stirring gospel tunes he has ever cut. "I Feel Good," with its extended instrumental vamp, was aimed at the disco market, and it still packs a punch. In 1977 people, forgetting soul music's deep roots in the black church, seemed puzzled by Green's desire to mix earthly and heavenly material. With 20/20 hindsight, The Belle Album stands as another soulful page in Green's book of love.
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