ORGAN THING: Marvin Gaye’s “lost” 1972 album released at last, as vital now as it surely would have been back then…


You’re The Man, the great “lost” Marvin Gaye album, the album that really should have been released back in ’72 as the follow up to the legendary What’s Going On’ Gaye was without a doubt on top of his musical game in ’72 just as that year’s U.S elections were kicking in, the then new album was heading along the same socially conscious lines as the previous year’s extremely powerfully hard hitting What’s Going On – What’s Going On, an album that stands up to the argument that it might just be the greatest rock album released by anyone ever – greatest rock album, greatest soul album, greatest album ever full stop. Gaye (or someone) cancelled the release of the follow up, some say due to the negative the reception to early tracks and particularly his then new single “You’re The Man” – “a percolating, sarcastic riff on political non-action issued as the U.S. presidential campaign was kicking off”, it was powerful then, it still is now, maybe even more so? Beautifully powerful – politics, hypocrites, turning us all in to lunatics, others say that Gaye’s political views were at odds to those of Motown founder Berry Gordy, then there was the fact that Gaye wasn’t happy with Gordy’s moving Motown out of Detroit, for these reasons and probably a few more, rather than the acclaimed follow up to What’s Going On that You’re The Man should have been, the album has instead been the considered as “long lost” album we thought we might never ever get to hear properly.  And how beautiful is that restraint at the start of Piece Of Clay? Yes I know a lot of these tracks have come out on compilations and such, but this is as close to the real deal as we have ever been and both musically and lyrically this is just so so so right there. I’d love to know what really happened? Why it really didn’t come out? Of the single, “Set against the backdrop of the 1972 presidential election and conceived as the centrepiece of his next album, You’re the Man, Marvin Gaye’s vision for the project was scrapped when Motown CEO Berry Gordy refused to promote it out of fear of alienating his conservative fan base”. There’s two versions of You’re The Man on here, check out these 1972 lyrics to the alternative version (and check out that start to the whole album, that funk, that soul, that everything….) , America is at stake sang Marvin back at the start of the 70’s, he could have been singing it right here right now….

Maybe what this country needs is a lady for president
No, we don’t wanna hear no more lies
About how you plan to economize
We want our dollar value increased
And employment to rise
This heavy taxation has got us all in this awful situation
Now, don’t, don’t give us no peace sign
Turn around and rob the people blind

and of the The World’s Rated X….

Oh the world’s situation
Should be rated X, oh rated X
Said the world’s situation
Should be rated X, yeah rated X
Listen people, let only in the movie show
Take a look outside, I swear the truth is really told
It’s life in living color, fighting, killing
And dope dealing, it’s everywhere

Where;s the love? Where’s the peace? Where’s the hope for us all? You can just hear his pouring it out back there in 1972, there;s so much sou here, so much heart and soul – Maybe what this country needs is a lady for president – and this from a man in 1972. Everything feels so so now, so so right, so so timeless, dripping in so so much soul, so much everything   Had the album sitting here on the table for a week or so, just waiting for the right moment, I’ve had a listen or two, of course I have, but I waited until today, to really turn it up and share it with the neighbours, this beautiful thing is on in the studio now while I paint, it just drips with so so much,  those first five or six tracks are just about perfect. yes okay, alternative versions and Christmas songs at the tale end of things don’t really help it flow as  the complete thing it should be but those first five or six tracks, wow! If you’ve never listen to What’s Going On then you really need to, if you have then you know, you just know, and if you know, then you probably really need to have this “lost” album, released to coincide with what would have been Marvin Gaye’s 80th birthday, right there next to What’s going on, those four or five opening tracks are just it, so full of emotion, right at the cutting edge, challenging in so many ways, why on earth is this only just coming out?  Vital.  (sw)

The press release

“in 1972, Marvin Gaye was on top: or so it seemed. “What’s Going On,” “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler”),” the three singles from his universally acclaimed album What’s Going On, had each hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles chart (since renamed Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs) and Top 10 Pop the year before. His new single, “You’re The Man” – a percolating, sarcastic riff on political non-action issued as the U.S. presidential campaign was kicking off – reached No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles chart. He saw Motown schedule a You’re The Man album (catalogue number Tamla 316). But when the lead single didn’t cross over Pop, stalling at No. 50, Marvin retreated. Ambivalent about recording, stubborn about moving to Los Angeles with Berry Gordy and Motown, Marvin by his actions proclaimed no more new Marvin Gaye music.

Or so it seemed.

In this singular and transitional year for the late music legend, Gaye recorded more than an album’s worth of music in Detroit and L.A. He produced himself, creating a suite of aching ballads; he worked with songwriters-becoming-producers Willie Hutch, then known mainly for the Jackson 5 smash “I’ll Be There,” but soon to be lauded for his film scores to The Mack and Foxy Brown; and with Pam Sawyer and Gloria Jones, whose “Piece of Clay” for Marvin decades later became a smash in the 1995 film Phenomenon. He cut two sought-after tracks with Freddie Perren and Fonce Mizell, half of the hit-making machine behind the Jackson 5; he got together with Hal Davis, who was preparing a Marvin Gaye-Diana Ross album, to cut another topical gem, “The World Is Rated X.” And Marvin funnelled his anger over the Vietnam War, and his brother’s experiences there, into a sequel of sorts to “What’s Going On,” the poetic holiday ballad, “I Want To Come Home For Christmas.” He even re-cut “You’re The Man” as an eerie funk jam, perhaps for the LP as a bookend to the single.

None of these tracks or any other on the LP, except the single, were issued at the time.

Three tracks from the album are newly mixed by SaLaAM ReMi, the songwriter and producer long associated with Nas, the Fugees, and Amy Winehouse: “My Last Chance,” “Symphony,” and “I’d Give My Life For You.” Also included is the rare, long LP version of Gaye’s cancelled 1972 Christmas single, plus an unreleased vault mix of its instrumental B-side. Over the years, songs from You’re The Man have been included on several CD releases but 15 of the album’s 17 tracks have not been released on vinyl until now.

You’re The Man’s 2LP vinyl edition includes new liner notes by Marvin Gaye biographer David Ritz. In his essay, Ritz delves into Gaye’s deeply personal internal conflict as a source of creative vigor and emotional burden as he experienced What’s Going On’s massive success and all that came with it. “Now I could do what I wanted,” Gaye told Ritz in an interview that first appeared in Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye. “For most people that would be a blessing. But for me the thought was heavy. They said I’d reached the top, and that scared me because Mother used to say, ‘First ripe, first rotten.’ When you’re at the top there’s nowhere to go but down. No, I needed to keep going up – raising my consciousness – or I’d fall back on my behind. When would the war stop? That’s what I wanted to know – the war inside my soul.”

Despite his inner turmoil, that same year Gaye recorded a duets album with Diana Ross, and he accepted an offer to write what became his landmark Trouble Man film score. A year later, he released Let’s Get It On, the biggest hit of his career.
In addition to You’re The Man, Motown/UMe will release a new expanded edition of Marvin Gaye’s 1965 album, A Tribute To The Great Nat King Cole, digitally on March 15. Honoring what would have been Cole’s 100th birthday, the album’s original mono mix makes its digital debut with the new edition, which also adds more than a dozen bonus tracks, including six alternate takes from the studio sessions.

You’re The Man is the first-ever planned “lost” Tamla/Motown album from Marvin Gaye. Fifteen (15) of the album’s 17 tracks are on vinyl for the first time and three tracks are newly mixed by SaLaAM ReMi. The album also includes the rare long LP version of Marvin Gaye’s cancelled Christmas single from ’72, as well as an unreleased vault mix of its instrumental B-side, and new essay by Marvin’s biographer, David Ritz. The release will coincide with the 60th anniversary of Motown as a label and also Marvin Gaye’s 80th Birthday (April 2).

While the tracks have been issued on various collections and deluxe editions, this is the first time they have been placed in their proper context. In addition to context, You’re The Man was the album that was proposed to follow-up the monumental What’s Going On, and it contains all of Marvin’s solo and non-soundtrack recordings from 1972 (his next two albums in quick succession: Trouble Man and Let’s Get It On).

One thought on “ORGAN THING: Marvin Gaye’s “lost” 1972 album released at last, as vital now as it surely would have been back then…

  1. Pingback: ORGAN THING: Shellac ripping up AC/DC SkinGraft style? Phil not knowning his proper place? Pallas? A lost gem from Ahvak? Bandcamp Friday? | THE ORGAN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s