UNITED & YAIN, and unreleased material make up for EASY.
Robert Johnson | Richmond, KY USA | 08/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great set that most likely empties the Motown vault of Marvin and Tammi material. UNITED and YOU'RE ALL I NEED are great albums, but the third, EASY, is an abomination. However, the first two albums, and the load of unreleased material make this a great buy. I've reviewed the original albums seperately:
UNITED (1967; with Tammi Terrell) ****1/2 (4.5 out of 5) After artistically promising but commercially unrewarding collaborations with Mary Wells and Kim Weston, Motown finally captured lighting in a bottle by pairing Marvin with the demure Tammi Terrell. The incredibly attractive pair were born to sing with one another, and remain one of the all-time great duos in the history of recorded sound. Three big hits were scored right out of the box, including the immortal cuts "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (#19 Pop, #3 R&B), "Your Precious Love" (#5 Pop, #2 R&B), and "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You" (#10 Pop, #2 R&B). The rest of the album follows the standard `60s Motown formula, however "Two Can Have A Party," "Give A Little Love," "You Got What It Takes," "Hold Me Oh My Darling," and the beautiful, Gaye-penned "If This World Were Mine" (which received some airplay as the flip side of "If I Could") are as strong as the majestic singles. The silly novelty song "Sad Wedding" and an extremely faithful cover of Frank and Nancy Sinatra's #1 hit "Something Stupid" sound a bit out of place, but are great fun - and Marvin and Tammi's immense chemistry make it all seem new and exciting
YOU'RE ALL I NEED (1968; with Tammi Terrell) ***** (5 out of 5) Stronger album tracks and a more unified feel make Marvin and Tammi's second release together superior to their first. The big hits "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" (#8 Pop, #1 R&B) and "You're All I Need To Get By" (#7 Pop, #1 R&B) are two of the finest singles to ever grace the Motown label. The third single "Keep On Lovin' Me Honey" (#25 Pop, #11 R&B) was less successful, but is just as amazing as any of the duo's other hits. Unlike many of Motown's sixties releases, the singles are not the only strong tracks on YOU'RE ALL I NEED. The rest of the album is just as stunning as the singles and most of the album tracks sound like they could have been hits in their own right, including the infectious "You Ain't Livin' Until You're Lovin'" and the joyous "When Love Comes Knocking At My Heart."
In an effort to save time, over half of the "duets" were actually recorded separately. Most of these were Tammi's previously unreleased solo songs, with Gaye's vocals added later. The overdubbing is seamless though, and the chemistry between Gate and Terrell vocals is remarkable. "I Can't Help But Love You" and "That's How It's Been (Since You've Been Gone) are perfect pop and, for my money, their version of "Come On And See Me" is superior to both Tammi's original solo version and the later version by the Supremes. YOU'RE ALL I NEED is the finest album Motown released in the sixties, and it stands as Gaye and Terrell's golden moment together.
EASY (1969; with Valerie Simpson, credited as Tammi Terrell) * (1 out of 5) Tammi was gravely ill by 1969 and was in no condition to record an album and as a result, Motown committed a disrespectful crime in their effort to get a follow up to the very successful YOU'RE ALL I NEED. It is actually primary songwriter Valerie Simpson (trying hard to impersonate Tammi) who sang the female lead on 10 of EASY's 12 tracks. The remaining two tracks featuring Tammi were actually created by having Marvin overdub his voice on two of her previous solo cuts. The fact that it was Simpson's voice on the majority of the album and not Tammi's was a secret Motown guarded closely for many years, continuing to deny the rumor even as Marvin came clean about the issue [NOTE: Simpson recently went on record stating that she did not sub for Tammi on EASY, but, if this is true, then I have no idea who is singing on the album because it certainly isn't Tammi].
For the record, there are times when Valerie's imitation of Tammi is fairly decent, as on the hit "Good Lovin' Ain't Easy To Come By" (#30 Pop, #11 R&B) and the closing "Satisfied Feelin,'" however she too often overdoes the southern accent and on some tracks (especially the bizarre single "The Onion Song" and the limp cover of "Baby, I Need Your Lovin'") ends up sounding less like Tammi and more like Mae West's southern cousin. Simpson's vocals cannot be entirely blamed for EASY's failure though, I doubt even Tammi could have saved the disc's large amount of shockingly sub par material. EASY contains some of the most embarrassing misfires of Ashford & Simpson's otherwise extraordinary career; the social commentary of "The Onion Song" (#50 Pop, #18 R&B) is well-intentioned but silly and contrived, and "California Soul" is an unbelievably obvious rip-off of "California Dreamin.'"
The two mock-duets (both written by Gaye-mentor Harvey Fuqua) that actually do feature Tammi unfortunately do not fair much better. "More, More, More" is a predictable throwaway, while the average "I Can't Believe You Love Me" (which was originally Tammi's first solo single, released back in '65) suffers from Gaye's overdubbing being much more obvious than any of the overdubs on either of the previous two albums.
There are a few well-written tracks, like the single "What You Gave Me" (#49 Pop, #6 R&B) and the moderate two-step of "How You Gonna Keep It," but they too get lost in the shuffle of banality. Good sense prevailed and the public stayed away from the album, it peaked at a dismal #186 on the Pop charts and didn't even make a dent on the R&B chart. Fans of Gaye and Terrell's extraordinary duets are advised to stick with UNITED and YOU'RE ALL I NEED, and pretend that the disgraceful EASY never happened.
Ain't Nothin' Like The Real Thing
Robert Johnson | 12/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thirty years later the world learns that Marv and Tammi's splendid second album, "You're All I Need," a defining Motown moment, actually mostly consists of Marvin overdubs on unreleased Tammi recordings from years before. Amazing, because that album had and has no sense of datedness or anything artificially created. And we get to hear the Tammi originals, which point up even more Motown's brilliance in making recordings great against great odds. The third and final duet album, "Easy," was almost all Valerie Simpson singing unidentified as Tammi and Motown got away with it. She sounds LIKE Tammi but not exactly but even the reviewers accepted it all. All of Marv and Tammi's work, whatever the circumstances, is absolutely thrilling. This is a wonderful collection beautifully packaged and perfect for gift giving."
Crisp and clear like Marvin's right here!
Michael Snyder | Seattle (Belltown) WA | 12/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"WE all know these songs, the reason to buy this compilatation is the tehcncial brilliance, each cut is crisp, clear and with beautiful digital remastering which is an artform in and of itself and is often overlooked. Most of these songs were recorded in the 1960's....its like cleaning an old painting that has been dulled for years by soot and dust.....this CD comes roaring back with the youthful zip of a young Marvin (and his partners) making Motown history and setting a score for an entire decade"
At last, Motown gives us what we want!
Mr A I Johnston | Watford, Herts United Kingdom | 01/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many Motown fans such as myself, and Motown girls fans in particular will find this a very satisfying compilation. As well as bringing together all the duet albums from the first released on the wave of their first singles success, to the final attemp to cash in on the pairs popularity with Valarie Simpson standing in for the very ill Tammi. Valarie does a convincing rendition of Tammi's vocal style although once you know it is her singing with Marvin, you hear the difference and notice she tries too hard with the southern drawl (this is very evident on 'The Onion song' making it a bit of a risk by motown issuing it as a single at the time!). The other great feature of this set is to fill in more (maybe even all) of the gaps in Tammi Terrells recorded work. Like many Motown artists, the majority of her work remained in the can, although this is no reflection on its quality! Oh and don't forget to check out the hidden track at the beginning of disc one! Press play and rewind to the pre-track minus figure. Motown have finally realised that we want more than just releases of old classics!"
Ain't Nothing Like Marvin and Tammi!
Keith Summers | Columbia, MD United States | 05/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having been a fan of both Marvin & Tammi for many years, this is the sound of not only Motown, but true love in pure form. Unfortunately, Tammi Terrell was not given her due during her all too brief lifetime and career. However, this collection gives her fans a new perspective of her recorded work and proves what were actually solos recreated in the form of duets. This is an outstanding collection and personally, I cannot get enough of it. The only thing missing is the classic Marvin and Tammi "Coca-Cola Commercial" from '67. Motown please release more of what fans have been asking for."