THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AL GREEN

The sexiest soul smoothie who ever took it to the bridge, Al Green cut his teeth singing gospel music and continued to sing it throughout his years as a pop sensation. So, his official conversion to nonsecular music six years ago didn't mark that big a change in his style.

Still, the gospel tag is apparently off-putting to the mainstream audience, as his Saturday show at the Wiltern drew less than a capacity crowd. The fans who loved his '70s hits but can't find the time for him now fail to understand that lyrics are a secondary issue with Green; whether the subject is his baby or The Father, his central theme is and always has been the body/soul duality. Singing with the unbridled joy of a man possessed, Green put that timeless conflict in a funky Memphis groove on Saturday and invested every note with a raw sensuality that was sinfully wonderful.

Opening the show was gospel singer Tramaine, whose recent hit "Fall Down (Spirit of Love)" topped the disco charts. Tramaine claims she's on a crusade to "get gospel music mainstreamed," and though she has the pipes for the job, she's got a lot to learn about how to pace a show.

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