This is not my genre of soul music. But the record is so famous that it is kind of hard to deny it the same way I might deny a Philly Soul record that most of the world has forgotten about.
The title track is justly famous and, if you go for this sort of thing, it’s a classic of its genre. It is too damn smooth, but that is sort of the point for most people, I suspect.
The remaining songs are just not up to that standard, though a few of them are close. Gaye’s songwriting is love- and sex-obsessed, as you might have guessed by the title of this record. That’s not really my thing in terms of lyrics, but this record is about lyrics in a different sense than the way I normally enjoy or appreciate lyrics.
They are subservient to the vibe, you might say. And to that end, Gaye has created what you might call a sumptuous record, or a lush record, a record that feels like you’re in a rich man’s bedroom, while he’s trying to seduce you. That’s some kind of aural accomplishment, I think, and it’s certainly more of an accomplishment than just the run-of-the-mill smooth soul sound.
But it is still smooth as fuck, and so damn polished. If I am going to listen to a record about a man wanting to have sex with women, I’ll take James Brown’s version over Marvin Gaye’s any day of the week.
Well done, but not my thing at all.
- “Let’s Get It On” (Marvin Gaye, Ed Townsend) 4:44
- “Please Stay (Once You Go Away)” (Gaye, Townsend) 3:32
- “If I Should Die Tonight” (Gaye, Townsend) 3:57
- “Keep Gettin’ It On” (Gaye, Townsend) 3:12
- “Come Get to This” (Gaye) 2:40
- “Distant Lover” (Gaye, Gwen Gordy, Sandra Greene) 4:15
- “You Sure Love to Ball” (Gaye) 4:43
- “Just to Keep You Satisfied” (Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye, Elgie Stover) 4:35
- Arrangement, Conduction (Orchestra): David Van De Pitte (tracks: 5 to 6, 8), Gene Page (track: 5), René Hall (tracks: 1 to 4), David Blumberg (track: 7)
- Bass: James Jamerson, Wilton Felder
- Bongos: Bobbye Hall Porter
- Bongos, Drums: Eddie “Bongo” Brown
- Drums: Paul Humphrey, Uriel Jones
- Guitar: David T. Walker, Eddie Willis, Lewis Shelton, Melvin Ragin, Robert White, Don Peake
- Percussion (Mallettes): Emil Richards
- Percussion (Special Treatment): Bobbye Hall Porter, Ernie Watts, Plas Johnson
- Piano: Joe Sample, Marvin Gaye, Marvin Jerkins
- Production, lead vocals, background vocals: Marvin Gaye,
- Background vocals: The Originals (“Just to Keep You Satisfied”)
- Vibraphone: Emil Richards, Victor Feldman