Friday, June 10, 2016

The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye

This is the 1961 debut album by the one and only soul legend, the man who stood up to Berry Gordy, the Prince of Soul, the one the only Marvin Gaye. I love Marvin and think he's great, that goes for everything about him minus the drug stuff. Though the '70s/80s is the cream of the crop, he has other solid records/tracks prior to those monsters. Before he was every woman's "man" he was every woman's "guy", so to say. Something I read some where was he was described as a "clean college boy" prior to 1971. On this cover he looks like a youthful fellow, maybe even a little stubborn. This was followed by the, better all around, 1962 album That Stubborn Kinda Fellow. That features the titular track, Pride And Joy, and also the awesome Hitch Hike. This was Marvin's debut though, and it was the #2 Motown release, second in chronological order to Hi... We're The Miracles (also that bands debut). This is basically a Jazz standards album. I'm not sure if these tracks were "standards" yet, but listen to any Jazz record by any artist and there's bound to be one of the following tracks, more or less. I always see
  1. (I'm Afraid) The Mascarade Is Over: Opening the album we have a cover of the Magidson/Wrubel classic. Now the thing is, this isn't half bad. While he isn't really singing the way he would later, this ain't half bad. There is a charm to the way he's singing this song and I gotta support it. He's also singing restrained, he isn't really using the power he'd use on later records. Maybe he wasn't good enough, maybe he was just going for a certain sound, who know. I still dig it. My only complaint is its 5 minutes long, maybe cut it at 3 minutes or so. But I still like the song. 
  2. My Funny Valentine: Of the many versions Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis, Carly Simon, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald among others. Actually, the original dates to 1945 and was by a guy named Hal McIntyre. I don't love this version, but I do like the drums when they pick up. But I mean I just don't really care for the way this overall sounds. I do like the  chorus, but I don't know how often I'll visit though outside of the novelty of re-visitation and the review. 
  3. Witchcraft: Another track that I know, and I love this version. This is exciting, where the last two were more laid back and crooners. This really is a nice change of pace and shows good track listing. This is just such a fun damn song, I don't know if I like this or Sinatra's version more, but I love the guitar tone and the drumming. There is a nice guitar solo by someone who don't get credit. Fuck You Berry Gordy and you no crediting performers. This really is an early stand out and make you wanna listen to the rest of this thing. I love the head.
  4. Easy Living: This is a cover of the Billy Holiday song track from 1950's. A laid back number, there is something about this that makes me wanna smoke a cigarette relax and reflect on certain things. This is a very pretty song, and I'll be damned if Sinatra didn't do a version (though Nat King Cole or Sammy might be better fit to do this). I really like the drums here, brushes on the snare. I also really like the guitar lines and it sounds pretty damn slick. I'd love to get a copy of the lead sheet to this track. Also I cant forget to mention that piano that opens and closes the track. 
  5. How Deep The Ocean (How High The Sky): This is a famous Irving Berlin song. This is a other more laid back vocal jazz number. A solid tune, and this is a pretty solid version of the song. 
  6. Love For Sale: This along with track two are very often covered jazz standards. Some other versions include the likes of Cannonball Adderley, Billy Holiday, The Manhattan Transfer. Written by Cole Porter my boy Marvin does a solid job. I dig the big swing to it, and there are some tasty drum fills. I like that guitar and the bass' tone. This kind of feels like a Bond theme. 
  7. Always: This is a cover of the Irving Kaufman song of the same name that dates to 1926. This track has also been covered over the years by artists such as Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra and Patsy Cline. The shuffle drum rhythm is really nice here and works quite well. I think the solo in here is a nice thing, a detail not in all the others. And I can't believe it's here at all, Marvin isn't even playing the guitar either. To be honest, I really like what the Soul Brothers did here. 
  8. How High The Moon: By this song the formula and style is beginning to loose its interest. Yes if you listen oht of context its a swell rendition. I don't think this is the best song here, but I think (as mentioned above) swell enough. 
  9. Let Your Conscious Be Your Guide: Is this a fun number that really doesn't sound out of place on a Motown record. With an organ, that sounds like it was in The Champ, piano that has that doo-wop progression, mono chorus vocals that sound large and a. I've performance from Marv.... Plus some nice drums, brushes. This is very revisit-able. 
  10. Never Let You Go: Following the Motown sound, we get another hip dance number. I could actually see Smokey singing this. The chorus is a bit silly, but I still enjoy and dig the tune. There's a swing to that is fun, and great piano solo. I like the little details in the song. I wonder if this was intended for The Miracles, but then again the pianos a bit more rock and roll then they are. I could kind of see this being a cover on maybe Beatles For Sale or With The Beatles
  11. You Don't Know What Love Is: This is a classic jazz standard covered by numerous artists. This song is really great and a solid haunting way to end the record. This is a solid cover and works well to end everything. I also love the arrangement. 
Overall I have to give this a 7/10. This is Gaye's debut album and it's packed full of Jazz standards. Now what's weird about this is I didn't really dig the vocals of Marvin throughout it this album, until I sort of learned to appreciate jazz more. After being a bit more versed on this, I kinda love this thing. I mean, its pretty solid and while not nearly his best, its not anywhere near his worst. It's pretty solid.

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