Marvin Gaye

Greatest Hits Live [Video]

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This is a vintage 23-song film of Marvin Gaye's first European tour from 1976. Directed by Charles Leeuvenhanp at Eden Halle in Amsterdam, the production from Howard and Jeffrey Kruger has been in release for many years in various formats and different titles -- VHS and Laserdisc as Greatest Hits Live or Marvin Gaye Live, as well as on DVD licensed to a number of companies as Greatest Hits: Live in '76. Eagle Vision's EV Classics line has released a repackaged version in September of 2007 that contains no liner notes and no bonus tracks, just the wonderful concert of the superstar singer. It captures a hard-working Gaye in great smooth voice, excellent wardrobe, and with superbly soulful stage moves as well as some extraordinary dancing (with two partners). Non-hits like "Come Get to This" are as inviting as his terrific version of "Let's Get It On," and though it runs less than an hour, it's a highly entertaining show. In concert Gaye gets his point across, extending his message sometimes with more force than on the studio versions -- but not overdoing it. The guy was one of the most subtle powers in music with that great intuitive ability to slip the magic into your heart before you realize the musical seduction at play. His green, yellow, and white attire reveal a classy Mayor of Soul on this effort which balances the earlier Motown hits with his creative latter-day statements. The Alan Peters Orchestra under conductor Leslie Drayton is marvelous, allowing Gaye to be the rock/soul star rather than the genius producer. Set free from generating his thickly layered studio sounds he provides some brilliant stage moves while the orchestra does an admirable job of re-creating the 1971 classics from What's Going On. The title track is mistitled "What's Happening?," which is ridiculous as it is one of his greatest moments and a huge selling point. Gaye follows "Inner City Blues(Make Me Wanna Holler)" " with that nugget as well as "Save the Children." Liner notes and someone going over these artifacts to add more information (and corrections) would truly be appreciated as would some interview footage -- either newsreels of the star or chats with people associated with this production. With so many versions of this concert in release, one would hope some company would put the extra effort in. Florence Lyles is in excellent voice helping out on the classic duets "You're All I Need to Get By," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," "Heaven Must Have Sent You," "It Takes Two," and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." It's great stuff followed by a solo "Distant Lover" from the Let's Get It On album, Gaye on his knees, sweating, ending a classic concert that makes you wish he was filmed a lot more often.

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