Tuesday 2 April 2019

Marvin Gaye - You’re The Man

The release of these 1972 recordings should be a major event in the music calendar. It's not for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they’ve almost all been released before. Secondly, Tamla have released *everything* and chucked in some very unnecessary contemporary remixes. A pared down, tightened up version would showcase the true successor to the all-time classic What’s Going On.

If we were coming fresh to Where Are We Going?, the sessions’ stand out track, then all music publications would have held their front pages. Like a number of the album’s songs, it’s got laid-back funk, supple Latin American rhythms and a richly decorative arrangement.

This record is a missed opportunity to give Marvin’s back catalogue an album his reputation deserves. You see, I think he’s a little overrated. Or not as good as his contemporaries. If I’m making a list of the top 5 acts 1970-75, it’s:

Curtis Mayfield
The Chi-Lites
Neil Young
James Brown
Al Green

If I carry on, it’d still be mostly soul - The Isley Brothers, Bobby Womack, The O'Jays, Tyrone Davies, Joni Mitchell. Rock music from that period is largely very uninteresting. Oh, I think Bowie is *really* overrated. Hardcore soul fans will raise an eyebrow at Stevie Wonder not making the list, then question Funkadelic’s omission. Make your own list.

I’d consider Dylan but only for 74's Blood On The Tracks and 75's Desire. So if you're looking at two-shot artists from that era, then the Raspberries, Big Star, Judee Sill and Nick Drake are at least equal along with Marvin for What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On.

A 1972 release of You’re The Man would have elevated him in my ranking at least. Some of these songs are Marvin Gaye at his best. And when he’s at his best - love in all its pleasure, pain, jubilation and tragedy - very few can touch him.

So strip away the remixes, the alternate title track mix and Christmas in the City, and you've got a 10 out of 10 stone cold classic.

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