If you like Al Green's gospel material but are hesitant to check this out since there was a previous best-of-Green's-gospel compilation - One in a Million - there are a few good reasons not to be wary. Right off the bat, it should be clear that there is little duplication between Greatest Gospel Hits and One in a Million, as only two songs from the latter ("Amazing Grace" and "Where Love Rules") are on the former. Also, Greatest Gospel Hits has 17 tracks, whereas One in a Million only has ten. Plus, it definitely seems as though Greatest Gospel Hits has been conceived as a more accessible introduction to Green's gospel world: One in a Million was heavy on spiritual standards, while Greatest Gospel Hits leans toward gospel with a soul bent. That's evidenced by the greater presence of more contemporary material, including songs written or co-written by Green, and covers of Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" and Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready." The chronological span is also wider, covering 1974-1995, although the focus is largely upon his 1980s work. As for the music, there are two ways of looking at this. One is that it's going to have far more secular appeal than most gospel, since Green is an excellent soul singer in both the pop and gospel contexts and uses much the same style in gospel as he did on his classic soul sides. On the other hand, it's the 1970s soul records that are stronger, musically speaking, and which will be preferred by most casual listeners, even if his vocals on the gospel sides are equal in ability and command to those on the soul discs. It's still a decent overview, particularly for those who want a taste of Green's gospel material without getting deep into his gospel catalog.
The odds on the top 12
Hometown: Shaker Heights, Ohio
Professional experience: Performs locally and also plays the trumpet
Musical style: Pop balladeer
Odds to win: 25 to 1
Nickname: The Mack Truck
Bottom line: Has a soulful voice, but not very warm and fuzzy on stage.
Hometown: Checotah, Okla.
Professional experience: Journalism major at Northeastern University
Musical style: Country and western balladeer
Odds to win: 7 to 2
Nickname: The Cowgirl
Bottom line: This year's Kelly Clarkson, but Carrie's prettier