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How bittersweet it is,
This review is from: The Very Best Of Marvin Gaye (Audio CD)
Marvin Gaye was the proud if tortured possessor of one of the most soulful, moving and beautiful voices in twentieth century popular music.
This is an exemplary 2-CD compilation of songs from throughout his career, from his early Motown hits such as Stubborn Kind Of Fellow, How Sweet It Is, and Ain`t That Peculiar (which have never sounded as crisp as on this remaster) to the impassioned later masterpieces from LPs like What`s Going On, Let`s Get It On, and Midnight Love.
I am so grateful to the compilers, not only for including several of his duets with Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell - the wonderful It Takes Two, unforgettable You`re All I Need To Get By, and emotive Your Precious Love - but for excluding both his duet with Diana Ross, You Are Everything, and The Onion Song, neither of which I`ve ever liked much. I don`t miss Abraham, Martin and John too much, though there would have been plenty of room for it as the first disc is less than an hour long (while CD2 is packed to the gills) and it would have been good to have it.
What you do get is a couple of hours of heaven from one of the great voices. Marvin Gaye could be smooth as silk one minute, sexily soulful the next, then gutsily abrasive a moment later. Only Al Green and Otis have that fluid, sinuous quality to such an extent.
If CD1 is the earlier, more obviously commercial stuff, CD2 is where he really takes flight. Three tracks apiece from What`s Going On (political) and Let`s Get It On (sexual, and my favourite Gaye record) plus the title tracks from Trouble Man and I Want You, along with his last major hit, the immortal Sexual Healing.
Along the way there are many other gems, including a rather lovely traditional spiritual song, His Eye Is On The Sparrow, a fine song called You, and a smattering of stray late tracks that got away, or haven`t been heard much.
The six-minute live version of Distant Lover is so impassioned it`s almost too much to bear, and it sounds like the frenzied audience felt the same way.
The twelve-minutes of Got To Give It Up are, with the best will in the world, rather repetitive.
It all ends with Sexual Healing - which is as it should be! - though I would have liked one or two more tracks from Midnight Love. To hear Marvin sing that first miraculous "Bay-bee..." still makes my spine tingle.
Compilers seldom get it right, at least in my experience, but this collection does Marvin proud. It isn`t perfect, but it`s around two hours of one of soul music`s most expressive voices, complex personalities, and passionate souls.
I needed the shelter of someone`s arms
and there you were...