Edel America Records didn't unlock any lost Marvin Gaye live tapes to compile this baby; these are the same tracks that appeared on an assortment of mediocre Gaye live albums shortly after the soul man's untimely death; the bootleg live tape found its way onto cassettes at a time when people were buying anything with Gaye's name on it. While these badly mixed tracks sound better on CD, the quality's still poor. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is a mess; he does "Come Get to This" differently every time he performs it -- heck, he recorded it two different ways! This time he starts it off as slow bluesy vamp. It doesn't sound like Gaye singing "What's Going On" or "Let's Get It On." Maybe it's his brother, Frankie. The worthwhile cuts are the later ones; he really gets into "Joy," "Rockin' After Midnight," and "Sexual Healing," which evolves into hedonist singalong. The duets, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "Heaven Must Have Sent You," work because the female sings them as if they were new releases spurring a freshness in Gaye, who sounds hoarse and disinterested, especially on the early stuff.
Live: The Real Thing Review
by Andrew Hamilton