Personnel: Al Green (vocals); Margie Joseph (vocals); Reuben Fairfax, Jr. (guitar); Jesse Butler (keyboards); Aaron Purdie (drums).
Recording information: American Music Studio, Memphis, Tennessee.
Photographer: Alan Messer.
By the late '70s, Al Green had turned his concerns chiefly to gospel, releasing critically acclaimed though low-selling albums. While many were pleased that Green went full throttle with his religious devotion, 1980's Lord Will Make a Way found him occasionally over-cautious. That's certainly not the case here. Higher Plane is a heartening return to form that has Green again imbuing his music with strong measures of sensuality and humor -- especially for such a buttoned-down genre. The title track has Green again strutting with characteristic charm and sets the tone of the album. A duet cover of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" has Green and Margie Joseph slowing the song down and singing the refrain "Thank the lord" enough times it has to break through. A pair of strong album tracks -- the playful "By My Side" and the drama of "The Spirit Might Come - On and On" -- exemplify Higher Plane's skill of running the gamut of emotions without a false note. "Where Love Rules" and "His Name Is Jesus" are simply two of Green's finest songs, hitting a strong level of emotion, especially for being up-tempo. Green seems more than comfortable incorporating his quirks and sound in the pure religious idiom for Higher Plane. That fact makes this an inspired and definitive album from an artist who has his fair share of them. ~ Jason Elias