United (1967) by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

Categories: 1967 and Music.

It’s hard to know what to do with this weird pseudo “duet” album which, in many ways, set standards for duet albums going forward.

Terrell and Gaye were often not present at the same time, which has become a trope in these duo ventures but strikes me as kind of cynical and bizarre. (Let’s market the two of you together! Don’t get along? So what!) Anyway…

Both singers are good and certainly their performances and the production doesn’t let you figure out they’re not actually playing off each other.

It’s a reasonable selection of songs, varying between stuff written explicitly for this record and some reasonable covers.

It is very much the pop version of soul, however, even if it is on the rawer end of that sound.

The only hint that this was recorded in 1967 instead of, say, 1964 or 1967, is the false ending on “You Got What it Takes,” which basically hints that maybe people could deviate a little bit from the formula.

Still quite decent for what it is.

7/10

  1. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – written specifically for them by Ashford and Simpson, the most iconic thing here
  2. “You Got What it Takes” is a cover of a Marv Johnson song, but has a false ending, which makes it sound more modern
  3. “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” – written especially for them and apparently iconic
  4. “Somethin’ Stupid” – a cover of a song made famous by the Sinatras
  5. “Your Precious Love” – another Ashford and Simpson composition especially for the record; it has doo wop style backing vocals, as does the next one (though they’re different)
  6. “Hold Me Oh My Darling” – bass backing vocals on this one make it stand out
  7. “Two Can Have a Party” – kind of a jaunty thing with that Sesame Street rhythm thing
  8. “Little Ole Boy Little Ole Girl” – an Etta James cover
  9. “If This World Were Mine” – written by Gaye
  10. “Sad Wedding” – this almost feels like a country song to me, which feels very Ray Charles of everyone involved
  11. “Give a Little Love”
  12. “Oh How I Miss You”
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