Marvin Gaye

Sexual Healing: The Love Collection

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"Sexual Healing," the title tune that leads off this two-disc, 21-track anthology, was as close as Marvin Gaye ever came to merging the sacred and secular sides of his complex personality on record, and it ranks as one of the most honest and translucent pop songs of the 20th century. Had the rest of this set simply lived up to that beginning and its own subtitle, The Love Collection, this would have been an impressive package, for few singers could make a love song (or any song, for that matter) reverberate as personally as Gaye. Unfortunately, there are songs here that -- although they are marvelous -- have nothing at all to do with love, like Gaye's cover of the Temptations' "Cloud Nine," the atmospheric, jazzy, and quietly edgy "Trouble Man," and the gorgeous (but hardly a love song) "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)." And where is "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," one of the most ominous and paranoid love songs ever set to vinyl? OK, to be fair, Sexual Healing: The Love Collection doesn't live up to the conceptual premise of its title, but it does feature the aforementioned Marvin Gaye classics (although not "Grapevine"), along with lesser material (and lesser material from Gaye is still damn good), so it is hardly a wash.

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