required listening

LP Review

MARVIN GAYE  -  You’re The Man

Motown/UMC (UK) 00602577163395 (2lp)

You’re The Man (+ version 2); The World Is Rated X; Piece Of Clay; Where Are We Going; I’m Gonna Give You Respect; Try It You’ll Like It; You Are That Special One; We Can Make It Baby; My Last Chance; Symphony; I’d Give My Life For You; Woman Of The World; Christmas In The City (inst.); I Want To Come Home For Christmas; I’m Going Home (Move); Checking Out (Double Clutch)

Released officially on vinyl only at the time of writing - although the cd version will follow shortly - ‘You’re The Man’ is the ‘lost’ Marvin Gaye album that, in its original guise was intended to follow up (in 1972) the classic ‘What’s Going On’ from a year earlier.  Now issued to celebrate what would have been the late star’s 80th birthday on April 2 this year, as it stands it poses a number of questions, one being just how successful it would have been in comparison with its immediate predecessor when several folks may well have been expecting merely a ‘WGO‘ part two and another being whose decision it ultimately became to shelve the set, Berry Gordy, who believed the title track already issued on 45 to be too ‘political’ - it overtly criticised President Nixon - Marvin himself, who possibly realised the set, produced by no less than five different persons/teams, lacked the cohesion of ‘WGO’, or indeed a combination of the two.  Over the interim years, the tracks in one form or another have been issued on cd across a number of releases but the bulk have by-passed vinyl to this point.  (Writing in the liners, Gaye’s biographer, David Ritz appears to disagree with yours truly regarding cohesion, or lack of, but my defense comes not least because the recordings here span January 1969 to November 1972, with studio involvement from both Detroit and America’s West Coast.  In addition, ‘My Last Chance’, ‘Symphony’ and ‘I’d Give My Life For You’, each pleasant enough when finally allowed to see the light of day, are presented here in previously unreleased - and, one might add, unnecessary - mixes undertaken by Salaam Remi, who I am advised is apparently the producer long associated with Nas, the Fugees and Amy Winehouse.)  Maybe it is best then to check out this set as a collection of ideas, the title track and ‘The World Is Rated X‘ continuing along the ‘WGO‘ mould, while the four Willie Hutch songs and productions -  ‘I’m Gonna Give You Respect‘ through to ‘We Can Make It Baby‘ as listed above - are the closest we get to Marvin the straight-forward soul singer of straight-forward soul songs.  Thanks to the backgrounding of brothers, Larry and Fonce Mizell, ‘Where Are We Going‘ and ‘Woman Of The World‘ present jazzier style additions to the Marvin Gaye repertoire while the opposite side of the coin is offered up by the smaltzy, sickly ‘I Want To Come Home For Christmas‘ - not even Marvin Gaye can deliver a Christmas song I can stomach!  Of the rest, one of the finest numbers here, the Gloria Jones/Pam Sawyer ballad, ‘Piece Of Clay‘ is sadly somewhat marred by harsh guitar support and ‘Checking Out (Double Clutch)‘ is basically a jam over which Marvin speaks atop a performance by the Bohannon Band on a number he gets additional writing credit alongside performers, Hamilton Bohannon and Michael Henderson.

N.B.  A cd version of this product will be issued in the UK very shortly.

review posted 24/4/19