Al Green

I Can't Get Next to You

Composed by Barrett Strong / Norman Whitfield

Song Review by

In 1968 the Temptations original version of this song was a rocking/funky Sly and the Family Stone inspired track. By 1970 Al Green had other ideas for it. The sessions for his second album, Al Green Gets Next To You were filled with experimentation, some sex, hard-edged, bass heavy r&b—and of course the loving pit stop to Jesus. It was on “I Can’t Get Next To You” Green improbably put most of the elements together for one song. As Green proudly if not giddily explained, in the 1983 film, The Gospel According to Al Green, the genesis of his cover was simple. Green’s take slowed the song down to a seductive beat. While the original’s lyrics had all of the five Temptations taking the role of the song’s protagonist, with Green the intent was more striking. For Green in particular having all of these alleged superpowers, yet not getting the woman was more dramatic. The maverick spirit of the sessions came through loud and clear by way of Teenie Hodges’s acid rock and blazing guitar solo. Near the song’s end Green’s barely controlled singing, “Lord, I’ve been working on it baby.” To no avail obviously as he lets out a frustrated high pitched moan that says it all. Not only was “I Can’t Get Next To You” the perfect way to start the album, it’s stark power stood in contrast to his later hits on 1975’s Greatest Hits.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Gets Next to You 1971 Fat Possum / Fat Wreck Chords
Al Green's Greatest Hits 1975 Fat Possum 3:52
The Supreme Al Green: The Greatest Hits 1992 Hi Records
Motown Songbook 1995
Various Artists
Alex 3:47
Hi Times: The Hi Records R&B Years [Box] 1995
Various Artists
Capitol 3:53
Unchained Melody 1995 Collectables 3:46
Al 1995
Beechwood Music
Royal Memphis Soul 1996
Various Artists
Hi Records / Hibook 3:46
Anthology 1997 Capitol 4:44
Hi and Mighty: The Story of Al Green (1969-1978) 1998 Hi Records
Hi Masters 1998 Hi Records 3:46
Soul from the Cities, Vol. 3: Memphis 2000
Various Artists
The Hi Singles A's and B's 2000 Hi Records 3:48
Take Me to the River 2000 Capitol 5:29
The Very Best of Al Green [EMI Canada] 2000 EMI Music Distribution
The Very Best of Al Green [Shock] 2001 Shock 3:46
Love & Happiness 2001 Music Deluxe (UK) / Demon / Music Club 3:46
The Very Best of Love 2003 Madacy 3:46
The Absolute Best 2004 The Right Stuff 3:49
Love: The Essential 2004 Hi Records 3:46
Back to Back Hits: Al Green & Bobby Womack 2004 EMI-Capitol Special Markets / EMI Music Distribution 3:53
The Immortal Soul of Al Green 2004 EMI Music Distribution / Hi/The Right Stuff 3:47
The Very Best of Al Green [Crimson] 2005 Crimson Productions 3:46
The Legendary Hi Albums 2006 Edsel 3:47
Greatest Hits [Get Back] 2006 Fat Possum / Hi Records / Turnstile 3:52
The Definitive Greatest Hits 2007 Capitol/EMI Records 3:48
Platinum [Capitol] 2007 Capitol/EMI Records 3:49
Al Green [Madacy] 2007 Madacy 3:53
What Makes the World Go 'Round? 2008 Starbucks
Al Green for Lovers 2008 Q Records 4:20
Plug It In! Turn It Up! Electric Blues - The Definitive Collection, Pt. 4: 1970-2005 2012
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 3:45
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