DAR Retro: The 5 Greatest Marvin Gaye Albums
Marvin Gaye is a legend. One of the greatest voices and artists that we've ever seen. Through the years, Marvin delighted audiences with his silky smooth soulful style and his straightforward lyrics. His impact on artists over the years has always been relevant and his music still resonates today in many ways. It's been over 40 years and his music never seems to get old, and today, I wanted to take a look at his 5 greatest albums. His catalog is extensive, with over 25 albums total, but we wanted to narrow it down to the top 5. Which albums make the list? Let's get into it.
5. In Our Lifetime (1981)
-His most underrated album in a way is a true classic. While not quite as good as his other 4 classics, this album showcases Marvin flirting with a slightly newer sound while implementing soul and funk we came to love from him to the highest power in his music. It was his last album on Motown and he went out with a bang. After hitting a personal low, Marvin would produce and arrange this entire album and out of it came greatness like "Funk Me", "Life Is For Learning", "Ego Tripping Out", and my favorite "Heavy Love Affair". In Our Lifetime is a true gem in the Motown catalog period, and it is honestly one of the greatest pieces of work that Marvin created.
4. I Want You (1976)
-One thing I've loved about the music that Marvin made is that he brings a vision and cohesiveness to every project. Perhaps there is no greater example than I Want You to drive that point home. This album is somewhat underrated when talking his career, as the title track is timeless, but many tend to forgot how powerful the music is on this mostly Leon Ware produced gem. There was a quiet storm feel to this album while implementing the soulful disco elements and it resulted in beautiful music like "Come Live With Me Angel", "Since I Had You", "Soon I'll Be Loving You Again", and of course "After The Dance". From start to finish, this is a great album and easily one of Marvin's best. I almost put this at no. 3, but upon revisiting his albums, this sits squarely at no. 4.
3. Here, My Dear (1978)
-History has a way of revealing truths for music. In this case, an album that was commercially and critically panned way back when is now revered as a classic and one of the best Marvin albums because it simply is that. Many people refer to this project as the divorce album, and that's exactly what it was. Going through a tough divorce, Marvin would use the music as his guide and strength, seemingly turning his own personal crisis into a moment in time for his career. The sound of the album is varied, but it still resonates with soul on each track, as Marvin delivers gems like "Anger", "Sparrow", the amazing "Anna's Song", and my personal favorite "Falling In Love Again". Here, My Dear is a timeless piece of music and if you've ever slept on this album, it's a must you wake up. This album was THIS close to taking the no. 2 spot. THIS close.
2. Let's Get It On (1973)
-I have debates sometimes about this album. There are days where I think it might be Marvin's second best album, and days where it might be his best period, but today, it will have to settle for the no. 2 spot. The style of this album is completely different from What's Going On, and that's what makes it so special. As an artist, Marvin could go from a socially conscious classic to an album that's primed for the bedroom with ease. This change of pace was welcome, as we would get a soulful journey handled by Marvin himself with the assistance of Ed Townsend. Classics like "If I Should Die Tonight", "Distant Lover", "Just To Keep You Satisfied", "Please Stay", and of course the title track make this album so memorable and it's really on par with any soul album in music history. It's that good.
1. What's Going On (1971)
-To many, this is the greatest album of all time. Honestly, I can see why. It flows perfectly. The cohesion in this album, the awareness, the production, and the vocals are all perfectly executed and there aren't too many albums in the world that could match this. This is the peak for Marvin in a way, as he stepped away from the previous style of albums he had crafted to bring his vision and ideas to life on what is widely regarded as a socially conscious album. The way each reprise leads into the next song and how the album is cycled is honestly one of the most smoothest transitions for an entire album ever, with an important concept attached to it. Aside from that, the album was a major commercial success and is revered by many artists past and present. It is the biggest centerpiece in the legacy of Marvin and when you hear songs like "What's Happening Brother", the title track, "Save The Children", and "Mercy Mercy Me", you can understand why. Simply put, What's Going On is the best Marvin album and one of the greatest albums ever created. Period.