Let me draw you a map of how i discovered this album. A long time ago I was living in Balmain and had just started my Nursing training. If I wasn’t rostered on to work, myself and as many fellow comrades as we could rustle up, would wander down to The Sir William Wallace pub for a Sunday afternoon beer, a game of pool and on occasions an innings or two of ‘street cricket’. Balmain was already well on its way to that 10th circle of hell, Urban Gentrification but there was still pockets of students, blue collar workers, old school Tigers supporters and retirees from the Power Stations, Shipyards and Docks that ringed Balmain before the developers got their claws into it. And as luck would have it there were still a few hotels that hadn’t been tarted up to within an inch of their life.
As an aside.
Many years later when i was working at Macquarrie Psychiatric Hospital we set up a ‘Mens Health’ group. Part of that program was to take a bunch of the male patient’s down to the Willy Wallace on a quiet weekday afternoon for a few beers and some “male bonding” (tongue firmly in cheek). It sounds like a bit of a wank but you have to remember that most of these guys had a primary diagnosis of Schizophrenia and concomitant Drug & Alcohol problems, usually as a result of trying to self-medicate their illness. Not only that but if you are an involuntary patient stuck in a Schedule 5 Hospital you have usually been interviewed/counseled/talked
too at for most of your waking moments. Lance (who set up this particular program) saw the benefits in chatting to the blokes in an everyday setting away from the Hospital grounds. Doing normal everyday things and at the same time giving them an opportunity to learn how to have a social drink without getting inebriated. It was great program while it lasted and the Wallace Hotel was the perfect setting.
Anyway I’m rambling so back to the map.
One of the William Wallace’s major attractions was their Juke box. Now this is pre-digital remember. Old fashioned ’45’s’ that would swing out from the rack when you made your selection and a turntable and stylus to coax the sound out of the grooves. One of the most played tracks was this worn out recording of a song that the Talking Heads made famous; Take me to the River by The Reverend Al Green. What can I say. I loved what David & Company did with this song but it was pretty special to begin with. So of course I hunt out other Al Green and come across Jesus is Waiting and the L.P it was cut from Call Me. Now Jesus is Waiting is the closing track on the album and for me is the Pearl in the Oyster Shell. It wasn’t chosen as one of the singles and it doesn’t get much of a mention in the critiques of Al Greens work but I just love it. I’ve been playing Call Me pretty solidly for the past week now and while i do the right thing and listen through from start to finish. At Track Nine however I turn up the volume up and when it’s finished hit replay. Then hit replay again and then again half a dozen times till I’m sated.
What else grabs me on this Album? Have you Been Making Out O.K was a big hit and justifiably so. His silky smooth whisper and angelic falsetto are just so seductive. The Willie Nelson cover Funny How Time Slips Away is equally great and proof positive that a good song is, well a good song, regardless of what genre it was first penned in.
Country? Gospel? it makes no difference if the bones are solid :- )
For me, coming from a non-religious background, this is secular music that is about God and if that sounds like a Non sequitur, I apologise but no apologies for the Album selection. It’s a perennial favorite of mine.