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Monday, March 5, 2018

Marvin Gaye: Take 2

MARVIN GAYE: TAKE 2 (1966) (w. Kim Weston)

1) It Takes Two; 2) I Love You, Yes I Do; 3) Baby I Need Your Loving; 4) It's Got To Be A Miracle; 5) Baby Say Yes; 6) What Good Am I Without You; 7) Till There Was You; 8) Love Fell On Me; 9) Secret Love; 10) I Want You 'Round; 11) Heaven Sent You I Know; 12) When We're Together.

General verdict: One great song and a bunch of cozy filler.

Well, for one thing, Kim Weston is certainly a better dueting partner for Marvin than Mary Wells. Both Marvin and Kim have «fire» as the fundamental element, where Mary was more of a «water» person — smoothly flowing and caressing, rather than sizzling and scorching. There was clearly something to be said about contrast and complementary distribution, but on the whole, the two just weren't made for each other. Kim Weston was louder, sharper, more powerful, and when they were at their best, they could tear it up better than any other Motown duet.

Which they certainly did with ʽIt Takes Twoʼ, arguably one of the top 10 (20? 30? whatever) Motown hits of the decade in terms of sheer orgasmic power. Speedy, focused, rushing through the air like two reckless lovers speed-racing toward each other, and with a cleverly original set of lyrics to boot, it is the perfect love duet — I can hardly imagine a better set-up for a male and female singer, and it is glorious to hear the two understand the potential of this set-up and give it their all. (Please forget the awfully produced and thoroughly sleazed-up Tina Turner / Rod Stewart version from twenty-five years later: to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever been able to improve on this definitive version, and I have no idea how such a thing would be possible). It's a wild Dionysian rush here, though Apollo certainly took some part in designing its structure and the way it steadily and intelligently climbs towards the chorus release. And it should sound just as fresh and stimulating today for lovers all over the world. Well — with the exception of polygamous unions, I guess.

Unfortunately, predictable trouble strikes at the precise moment when the great single has to be expanded into an entire LP. As good as the two of them sound together, it all comes down to the songwriting, and lightning never strikes twice, so I am pretty sure that most people will be let down after the first song. In fact, immediately after the first song: the slow sentimental waltzing oldie ʽI Love You, Yes I Doʼ is like a cold shower that reminds you of the ultimate immortality of the slow high school prom dance (yes, James Brown did it a bit differently, but you can't ask Marvin and Kim to do a double-headed James Brown impersonation). Equally useless is the attempt to saddle them with ʽTill There Was Youʼ, on which Kim drastically over-emotes, and pretty much every other lush sentimental ballad on the record.

The lively R&B numbers fare a bit better, but still, they are all decidedly second-rate. Some feature the cuddly girly Supremes vibe (ʽBaby Say Yesʼ), which does not work without a Diana Ross type personality; some are simply obsolete — the album includes ʽWhat Good Am I Without Youʼ, which had originally been released in 1964 and had waited two years for inclusion on an album, by which time standards had changed irreparably and this simple blues-pop ditty would no longer qualify as potential hit material. The cover of ʽBaby I Need Your Lovingʼ is softened and sentimentalized, compared to the rougher Four Tops classic version — again, rather hard to understand, considering the whirlwind quality of ʽIt Takes Twoʼ.

In short, the potential is there (all the songs are at least pleasantly listenable, and, as I said, there is no denying the proverbial chemistry between Marvin and Kim even on the slow sentimental schmaltz), but the material leaves a lot to be desired. Most likely, this was merely a rush-job case — capitalizing on the success of ʽIt Takes Twoʼ — but even so, the silly songwriters and produ­cers could at least bother their asses to come up with a bunch of clones for that song: clearly, they were onto something really cool there, and they couldn't even hold on to it for a proper sequel. And then the following year, Kim Weston had to leave Motown over royalty disputes anyway, so we can only guess how things would turn out if she weren't replaced by Tammi Terrell as Marvin's chief partner. No luck with the ladies!

1 comment:

  1. Fire as the fundamental element, Water person? I didn't know you used astrology on your reviews.