Marvin Gaye

Classics Collection

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Creative packaging of three classic Marvin Gaye LPs, and 15 previously unissued tracks. Versatile and talented, Trouble Man displayed Gaye's ability to produce a quality soundtrack album. Because of the work involved, he always considered it his best work. It's a traditional soundtrack, not like the piecemeal efforts that became the vogue in the '90s. The title track, and "Don't Mess with Mr. T," are frequently covered by prominent jazz artists. His libido runs out of the closet on "Let's Get It On," an in-your-face testimonial to lust, passion, and sex. The urgency in his voice is matched by sensuous grooves and licks by studio musicians who were on the same page and in the same frame of mind as Gaye was. The loving must have been bombastic to create and dramatize a song as intense as "If I Should Die Tonight." Like Smokey Robinson's "Ooh Baby, Baby," "Distant Lover" is carried solely by longing, hurt, and a deep pain. On paper, both songs are elementary reads, but in the hands of voice masters, the words transform into unforgettable classics. Equally as luscious, but pudding smooth, is Gaye's I Want You album. Originally recorded by Leon Ware, Motown made a good decision in removing Ware's vocals and letting Marvin, a more popular singer, record the tracks. Sung in a higher register than "Let's Get It On," "I Want You" mirrors its passion, but is more laid-back. Diana Ross' brother, Arthur "T Boy" Ross, and Leon Ware wrote it, and many others, on the LP. T-Boy died violently, he was found, alongside his girlfriend, murdered in the basement of a home in Detroit, the apparent victim of a drug deal gone bad. The slinky, grooving "After the Dance" is as irresistible as any Marvin Gaye recording, his vocal is multi-tracked and can be heard all over the cut, on lead and background. The unissued tracks come from a variety of producers, so continuity is nil as each producer brings their own style to the mix. "This Love Starved Heart of Mine (It's Killing Me)" was written by blue-eye soul sisters Helen and Kay Lewis, who also recorded (unsuccessfully) for Motown. It has achieved a modicum of popularity in Europe, and has a similar feel to "This Poor Heart of Mine," written by Ashford & Simpson, and recorded by Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Underrated Motown writers William Stevenson and Ivy Hunter contribute two tracks: "Sad Souvenirs," a moody ballad, and "It's a Lonely World Without Your Love," a rolling, uptempo romp, previously done by the Four Tops and the Temptations, respectively. Gaye, true to form, does justice to both. Most interesting is "Court of Common Plea," which was omitted from Hear My Dear. If you only get down with hits, this will be an overdose of Gaye, but if you're interested in the essence of the man, and want to hear more, then Classic Collection is for you.

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