Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Marvin, trouble man

Last weekend one of our tv channels ran one of those music programmes, this one on "The Nation's Top Tama Motown Song", a countdown of the 20 most popular Tamla hits - cue all the usual subjects and talking heads and video snippets, as we arrive as Number One: Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" - thats good enough for me, I had imagined it would be one of Diana Ross's epics. 
I loved "Grapevine" at the time,  1969, and remember playing the single over and over, as we all did, but seeing Marvin sing it back then in his prime is something else. He is such a beautiful man and I love those sinuous movements and one can feel the emotion he brings to it:
Its all reminded me how much I loved Marvin and those classic albums. My two favourite Tamla singles back in the mid-'60s, when I was 20, were Marvin's "Aint That Peculiar" and The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love". There are lots of Marvin collections, with those hits like "Thats the way love goes", "Too busy thinking about my baby" and the epic "Got To Give It Up" etc where he is Motown's main man up there with Smokey and Stevie and young Michael. 

Those later albums are still astounding too, I particularly love "Distant Lover" on "Lets Get It On" and of course those ground-breaking "Whats Going On", the "Trouble Man" soundtrack, "Here My Dear", and that odd final album "Midnight Love" with the still potent "Sexual Healing". Marvin's story is too well-known to re-hash here, this is just to say how much we love this song and Marvin (1939-1984) singing it, or his other classics like "Inner City Blues".
Atlantic had the troubled Donny Hathaway (1945-1979). and Stax Otis Redding, both soul singers supreme, up there with Marvin; at least I saw Otis on that final soul tour he did in 1967 ... to think he was only 26.

Away from Tamla we have been going back to some classic albums which never date:
Quincy Jones' "Back on the Block" his '80s tribute to that be-bob era, with snippets of Ella, Sarah and others, the title track is a zinger.
Weather Report's "Heavy Weather" from 1977, with those fascinating tracks like "A Remark You Made" and "Teen Town" with musicians like Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius and Wayne Shorter - both of whom I discovered via their work with Joni Mitchell (Jaco's first solo album is still terrific too); 
more 'jazz fusion' with those '70s Santana albums like "Abraxas" and "Caravanserai" and tracks like "Singing winds, crying beasts" and the funky grooves of "Black Magic Woman"; and of course Miles himself, I particularly related to his 1969 "In A Silent Way" and some great moments on "Bitches Brew".... all of course from that great era of the vinyl album, as covered before here, music label

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