Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Marvin Gaye started his career at Motown singing ballads and standards. He wanted to be a pop/jazz vocalist in the Nat King Cole/Frank Sinatra mould but at the same time as his standards were unsuccessful, his more commercial fare took off and he became a reluctant R&B star.
But he never totally abandoned his original dream and in 1967 he commissioned Bobby Scott to write arrangements for the seven songs that would become "Vulnerable". However, no-one was happy with the results so these takes were never issued. Marvin said that he hadn't lived enough to make the songs sound right.
However, he never forgot about the standards and would go back to them at different times in his life. In late 1978/early 1979, Marvin was still reeling from his acrimonious divorce from Anna Gordy (documented on the much-misunderstood "Here, My Dear" - more on this in a future post!). He was facing bankruptcy and his second marriage to Janis Hunter was already in trouble. Marvin returned to the ballads because "the pain in my heart corresponded to the pain in the lyrics".
Marvin Gaye - Why Did I Choose You?
Through his early 70s albums, Marvin learned how to multitrack his vocals and blend his different voices and this really adds to these tunes, making them more than just "soppy ballads"; the vocals throughout "Vulnerable" are real works of art!
Marvin Gaye - The Shadow Of Your Smile
Marvin claimed Motown wouldn't release it, but the truth seems to be that Berry Gordy never heard it at the time - Marvin was afraid that it wouldn't sell. I think it stands alongside other great torch-song albums like "In The Wee Small Hours" and "Lady In Satin".
Visit - Marvin Gaye on Wikipedia
Buy - Vulnerable