Love Songs: Bedroom Ballads

Marvin Gaye

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Love Songs: Bedroom Ballads Review

by William Ruhlmann

If the midline-priced Marvin Gaye compilation Love Songs: Bedroom Ballads seems to have two titles grafted together, that's not inappropriate to the album's contents. The album's love songs are the seven romantic standards Gaye labored over for more than a decade and never released during his lifetime, tracks that finally were issued in 1997 under the title Vulnerable. Working with lush string arrangements arranged by Bobby Scott, Gaye rewrites the melodies of familiar songs like "The Shadow of Your Smile" (heard here with a previously unreleased alternate vocal), rendering the material fresh and claiming it for his own. The "bedroom ballads" portion of the album, interspersed with the other songs, consists of six tracks that appeared originally on Gaye's albums Let's Get It On, I Want You, In Our Lifetime, and Here, My Dear. Written or co-written by Gaye himself, these songs employ the singer's mixture of romance with blunt eroticism, notably on tunes with titles like "You Sure Love to Ball" and "Funk Me," and on "Since I Had You," which contains an orgasmic background vocal track that couldn't be bettered by Donna Summer. Gaye collaborator and biographer David Ritz conceived this compilation, which is true to Gaye's romantic sensibility, a combination of sophistication and physicality.

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