- Marvin Gaye Greatest Hits Live in 76
Eagle Rock EVC 33045-9
Marvin Gaye Greatest Hits Live in 76 has a very commercial title, although the DVDs name is not far from the mark, as the vast majority of Gayes hits (prior to 1976) are featured in this performance at Amsterdams Edenhalle Concert Hall on his first European tour. While Gaye is performing for a sold-out audience, the entire show feels strangely informal, thanks to the singers uncanny ability to relax and bring the crowd into the palm of his hand.
After opening with a few recent numbers, the green and gold tuxedo-clad clad frontman dives into his signature Lets Get It On. Here he is at his most charismatic, bringing the band down low to improvise and delve into foreplay with his imaginary woman. By the time he starts disrobing, the very vocal women in the audience are moved to a near feeding frenzy. Following this peak, Gaye then goes into a great, smoothly segueing medley of his hits from the 1960s, including funky spins on Aint That Peculiar, Youre A Wonderful One, Stubborn Kind of Love, Pride and Joy, and Little Darling (I Need You). The staple I Heard It Through The Grapevine gets an up-tempo treatment which moves perfectly into the uptown grooves of Hitch Hike and the soulful swing of You and Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, before concluding with How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You. This entire medley is brilliantly arranged, as each song creeps in with only the most subtle of shifts.
After riding the high of this fine sequence of songs, the show makes a bizarre detour. In a truly perplexing move, two dancers come onstage and engage Gaye in silly step and fetch it style choreography, a bit of 1970s excess. The dance itself isnt a big deal until it becomes apparent that this is the intro to Inner City Blues (Make We Wanna Holler) and the bulk of the landmark Whats Going On? album. With a song that has such tremendous weight and pathos as Inner City Blues, its hard to imagine a less appropriate and borderline offensive introduction, but thankfully, this oddball moment doesnt last long. The featured cuts from the album are all highly charged and filled with emotion, especially the somber closing Save The Children, which features some impressive backing work from the expansive Alan Peters Orchestra.
Florence Lyles then joins the singer for a series of Gayes 1960s duets with female vocalists. Once again, this proves to be a well orchestrated medley of classic songs. Although Lyles voice wont make anyone forget about Tammi Terrell, she has an obvious chemistry with Gaye, especially on Heaven Must Have Sent You and Aint No Mountain High Enough. After Lyles leaves the stage, the show closes with Distant Lover. While the rendition is certainly passionate, its an odd selection to end the concert. Even more curious is the fact that this entire show is only 51 minutes long. Perhaps this footage with its low-budget lighting and no-frills visuals truncates the show, but regardless, the excellent cannon of work featured on this DVD showcases Marvin Gaye as an engaging artist who was in fine form in 1976.