Marvin's Definitive Moment - Even Beyond Death . . .
B Sax Man | North Carolina | 12/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Marvin became our voice, our collective conscience, our speaker for the excitement and pain of relationships. Because despite our failure to find the right woman, despite the hurt of not being the perfect man for the woman of our dreams and despite the anguish of losing out to another suitor, Marvin kept us all grounded in the reality of life and the struggle to try again. That, for me, was the basis of Marvin's appeal on a global level. People couldn't put their finger on it back then (drugs had clouded most peoples' mentalities and they couldn't think straight enough to figure it out). In my old age, I know what Marvin was trying to say. And he was quite eloquent at it.
This CD/album epitomizes the Marvin Gaye experience with women. He could satisfy them sexually, but he could also connect on a spiritual level; he could also relate on an intellectual level. Marvin got over because he knew the heart of a Woman was not to compete with her. Once you compete, you lose automatically. Women don't play those games. So Marvin gave what he had -- himself, totally and honestly, in all his songs . . . especially on this CD. It turned out to be his last, but it was also the one where you can just sit back, put it on and leave it for the rest of the night.
On a very selfish note, I have to highlight my favorite song on the CD. I don't know who the sax player is on "Til Tomorrow", but from a strictly aesthetic perspective, it is perfectly framed for this song. There are no ill-advised notes, there is no lapse in the structure, there are no flaws in the runs and riffs. It is clinically perfect, and in deference to players who specialize in running scales, this song really shows them how you have to blend the formal training with the street knowledge to produce the solo of your dreams. This guy, whoever he is, takes care of business. It is absolutely one of the best sax solos I have ever heard -- on a par with Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum or Najee. I get a chill every time I hear it. It literally sets off the vocal inflections and the poignant lyrics as sung by a very sincere Marvin Gaye to his lady to just stay. What Woman could resist?? Marvin made the men jealous of his power over them. You KNOW the Woman stayed!!! She would have stayed without the sax part!!!!!!!
You can't go wrong with most of Marvin's collection of songs. But this one, you have to get and you have to listen to (NOT JUST PUT ON, BUT LISTEN) to really get the most out of. Pure genius. I can't say enough about it. 20 years after the fact, I still miss his surreal presence. There's no telling what he'd be doing if he were still here. And 20 years after the fact, this CD is still a classic."
Marvin's final bow, and he went out with style.
Robert Johnson | Richmond, KY USA | 08/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Marvin's first album for Columbia, and the last completed studio album before his death, is yet another solid release - even if it is a little more derivative than his earlier recordings. Still smarting from the lackluster chart-performances of his last two Motown albums (including 1978's otherwise brilliant HERE, MY DEAR), Marvin later admitted that he was really aiming for commercial success above all else with this album. To his credit, he succeeded - MIDNIGHT LOVE became Marvin's first Top Ten, million-seller since 1977's LIVE AT LONDON'S PALLADIUM, and the terrific single "Sexual Healing" (with it's unusual percussion and unbeatable hook) became an outright smash (#3 Pop, #1 R&B). MIDNIGHT LOVE is the first album of Marvin's to really sound dated since the sixties (ah, those post-disco, pre-funk arrangements!), but it's still a lot of fun.
In some ways, it's almost like hearing Marvin perform other artists' songbooks. Basically, "Midnight Lady" is his Rick James tune, "Third World Girl" is his stab at a Bob Marley number, while "Rockin' After Midnight" and "Turn On Some Music" both sound very much like vintage Earth, Wind, & Fire. But what's really incredible is how Marvin is totally convincing in each of these settings. In addition to the previously-mentioned classic "Sexual Healing," MIDNIGHT LOVE also contains two of his most painfully beautiful ballads, "Til Tomorrow" (#31 R&B) and "My Love Is Waiting," as well as the fun disco-ditty "Joy" (#78 R&B). Even though Midnight Love may not reach the classic status of WHAT'S GOING ON or HERE, MY DEAR, it's still an excellent release, and probably a notch more enjoyable than his last Motown release (IN OUR LIFETIME) on a track-by-track basis.
Call Him the Midnight Man
Timothy Pernell | Saratoga, North Carolina, USA | 03/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Marvin Gaye. Wow, what else can I say about the master of soul that I haven't said already in other reviews? The man knew how to soothe the beast within him at the recording studio that he couldn't out of it. Even with his first hit, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow", which I can't believe was 44 years ago, there was always a surreal force guiding Marvin through his interesting trip from music neophyte to soul icon. In his last studio album, 1982's "Midnight Love", the man not only used this surreal force to guide him through another mystical trip inside his psyche, he also put his blood, sweat and tears on it, as you can see in the credits.
It's weird because when this album was released in the fall of 1982, Marvin Gaye was seemingly on the outs of American rock & roll music. If you think about it, Marvin hadn't had a significant hit in American shores since "Got to Give It Up" was his last song to reach #1 on the pop charts, and that was 1977. And by now, the 43-year-old singer had went through a tense battle with drugs, depression, alimony and support charges brought out by his first wife after their divorce, a second divorce, the split with Motown, and having been forced out of America due to the IRS catching up with him for failure to pay back taxes and filing taxes.
Stuck in Europe and now settling in Ostend, Belgium, thanks to a friend and boxing promoter there, Marvin was cleaning up and in the process had re-found his musical genius though it wasn't lost, he was just messed up over so many stuff that he couldn't find it in his heart to record, much less perform - which he hated. But with determination to overcome his demons, Marvin managed to emerge from the darkness with "Midnight Love", which he worked through a grueling process to reach commercial status. After reworking several songs to fit the feel of what people were listening to, particularly in the black community which was now entranced by the sounds of '80s electro funk and hip-hop. Marvin was entranced by more sounds coming from '80s white rock music including new wave and the amazing black sounds of reggae and the Caribbean. So he had to find a way to stay true to what he wanted to do and at the same time fit the commercial format. Somehow his "divided soul" helped him in this decision perfectly.
"Midnight Lady" is seemingly an autobiographical tale of how it felt to be in a party in the '80s especially with the hedonistic, cocaine-using, freak-kind of people that paraded around the clubs. Musically, the song is out of sight with a pulsating Latin beat, an off-the-wall synthesizer rumble over funk horns and Marvin's emasculate/immaculate vocals layering over one another.
"Sexual Healing" will forever remain the cut. This was an international crossover hit that fit perfectly. Mixing R&B/soul with reggae overtones, new wave sounds, hip-hop/pre-New Jack Swing beats, funk rhythms and Marvin's gospel-like poetic melding and doo-wop background vocals (plus help from his guitarist Gordon Banks and best friend, the legendary Harvey Fuqua), the song is one of the most timeless jams of all time. This helped Marvin get back on top and helped him finally win a Grammy. An award he should've won more of years ago! Anyway, "Sexual Healing" doesn't need to be explained anymore than it is, it is what is - timeless song.
"Rockin' After Midnight" keeps the party running and of course Marvin tries to get a woman to notice him and fall in love with him...and at the same time, get down with him. His angel vs. devil complex plays very interestingly in this song that you don't even notice it. That's how great it is. And when you get at the end, the FUNK takes over the SOUL and just makes you go off. Great song. I consider this another masterpiece.
"'Til Tomorrow" was and is a perfect Quiet Storm ballad. Very "Let's Get It On" album-esque almost, the song features Gaye trying to get a woman to stay with him throughout the night. No one can resist his soulful vocals. Once he sung a woman to tears, the woman couldn't leave. He gives you his blood, sweat and tears to you. And it's so massive you can't take it. That's how great the song is.
"Turn On Some Music" is a great funk/doo-wop/soul type of song. It'll have you groovin' as Marvin turns on the charm getting the woman to get down while three albums play on a CD changer as they get down. Perfect remedy, Marvin! The original version of this song was more autobiographical as Marvin explained how everything is just like music. Either way, I love the song, no matter what version.
"Third World Girl" gels because of its Caribbean rhythms and reggae-esque funk grooves that it was clear that Marvin was a huge fan of reggae, especially of Bob Marley. He and Stevie definitely added to their craft by adding the reggae licks into their trademark sounds.
"Joy" is another masterpiece where Marvin echoes back to his Pentecostal childhood growing up the son of a storefront minister. Bridging the worlds of gospel and funk, it's the perfect secular/sacred marriage. Marvin may have been conflicted in his soul by doing some of the secular stuff he was doing but it's obvious he was having fun making this record. Makes his death at the hands of his father more tragic.
"My Love is Waiting" begins with Marvin shouting out to everybody who helped him in his corner while making this album and thanked God while Gordon Banks parlayed the pulsating drum beat and just kicked in there. The entire song is so happy and enjoyable that you just continue grooving even at its end. And Marvin's vocals at the end is STELLAR!!!
The "Rockin' After Midnight" instrumental is funky as hell. I give props to both Marvin and Gordon Banks. Banks helped make this album work for his friend. You could just tell those two had a very compatible working partnership. It was supposed to be the precursor to what Marvin was gonna do as the '80s continued but of course, we know what happened. But it's funny that some 22 years after his untimely death, Marvin Gaye is still years ahead of his time, even as far as those of today's R&B artists could even imagine.
For this, Marvin, his surreal guide, and his undeniable spirit has helped continue to make his music as timeless as ever. "The Midnight Man" continues to shine."
Songs from the Boudoir Songs from the Chapel
Christopher Schmitz | Cleveland, Ohio | 03/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gaye's biographer called him a "Divided Soul." Addled by drugs and family dysfunction and unable to fully resolve the conflict between erotic and spiritual yearnings, Gaye was the suave classy performer onstage who succumbed to demons when out of the footlights.
His early 80's swansong "Midnight Love" joins the political "What's Going On?" and the sexual "Let's Get It On" as his trio of finest albums. "Midnight Lady" opens the album with a rollicking tribute to nightclub hedonism with its images of lines of coke on the men's room marble. "Sexual Healing" finds Marvin celebrating sex unabashedly, but there's a plea in his voice too--like he's begging his stern Pentecostal God to accept this point of view. Clever lyrics. A voice of grit and sweetness.
The good songs just keep coming. "'Til Tomorrow" is a throwback to '73 and the "Let's Get It On" album with its piercing well-developed falsetto and erotic longing. "Turn the Music On," Rastafarian and witty, imagines lovemaking through an entire double record set. "Rocking after Midnight" starts as a jangle-funk dance piece but slips into vocal caresses which almost sound like testifying or speaking in tongues! Underrated in its depth and beauty.
This eight song effort, despite some tinny early 80s production, would--on the strength of its songwriting, musicianship, and vocal performance--become the template for the perfect male R & B album over the next 20 years. See KEITH SWEAT, JONNY GILL, JEFFREY OSBOURNE, etc.
The musical equivalent of novelist James Baldwin, Gaye shared the writer's threatening father, religious immersion, and sexual voracity; this combination yielded for them both a rich body of artistic work, tortured and triumphant.
The Soul Mans Final Album
Ian Phillips | Bolton, Lancashire, UK | 02/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The late Marvin Gaye remains one of the most definitive male voices in Soul music. He truly was an utter genius and had such a creative and artistic flair. He remains one of the key influences with todays new generation of wannabe Soul/R&B singers.
In October 1982, Marvin released his first (and his last) studio album for CBS Records, after fleeing from Motown Records in a bid, much like Diana Ross' exact reasons for escaping Motown, for wanting to exert total control over his career, an exercise he was most certainly capable of. The album would be the classic, Midnight Love, which though offered no social commentary or made any sort of profound political statement like much of his previous efforts had, it still stands as a compelling, solid production and a last triumph for the unbeatable legend of soul.
Marvin wrote all 8 songs on the album and also is credited as playing the rolling drum beats, synthesisers and bongos that can eratically be heard throughout each recording. Other highly acclaimed muscians included on the project were Gordon Banks on Guirtars, James Gadson on Drums and Bobby Stern on those neat Harmonica and saxophone interludes. Together they create what amounts too, a pure masterpiece!
The title track, Midnight Love opens the project. Containing multi-layered and complex musical arrangements, the synthesises effect are worked miraculously into a a startling combination of early 80's disco/pop/r&b. The track is a jamming affair with some shrewd vocal trade-offs where Marvin adds his own backing vocals. A nice beginning to the album.
Sexual Healing is perharps one of Marvin Gayes signature tunes. Its a song everyone knows all the words too and has remained refreshingly timeless. The cool, breezy musical arrangements are given startling ignition by Marvins surprisingly sensual, vibrant vocal delivery that blends fantastically well into the state-of-the-art soul production. Sexual Healing became one of his last hits before his untimely and tragic death.
Continuing in vastly the same mood is the sexually charged, Rockin' After Midnight which opens up with a slow, sultry beat that hastily leads into a striking late night, grooving and lush R&B number that is broken up by a glorious saxophone interlude which indeed proves to be a phenomenal instrument on each of these recordings, capturing the intended move perfectly.
Til' Tomorrow, begins with a sluggish drum beat and steers into a tidal wave of musical arrangements, which are enhanced further by Marvins smooth, erotic sounding vocal delivery. He changes his pitch remarkably well through various parts of the track which merley displayed his wide range of impressive and impeccable vocal abilities.
More laid back and sultry was Turn On Some Music where Marvin puts in an exuberant, crystal-clear vocal performance that gels neatly into the overly, well-crafted production. Marvin is in full romantic mood here and his delivery is touchingly genuine and sincere which always was the genius of Marvin Gaye with his straight-from-the-heart approach to his music which is probably why his work remains timeless.
The infectious, Third World Girl opens with bizarre, echoey vocal noises and leads to a flood of musical arrangements that cunningly encapsulates an exotic, Jamaican vibe. Marvins voice is once again enhanced by the customary synthsised effect.
Joy, is something of a mid-tempo masterpiece on the album. Bobby Stern works hard away on that effective tenor sax solo whilst Marvins delivery is truly exhilirating, mastered to utter perfection and merley adds to the over-all, dazzling effect.
Finally the album slowly grinds to a halt with My Love Is Waiting, where on the opening bars of the track, he pays credit to all the producers and muscians involved on the job as well as delivering a short religious ode. This then drives into this infectious offering which is incidentally much of a soundalike to Sexual Healing. Still Marvins passionate and full-throated performance is as refreshing as ever, riding neatly along the divine and sweeping musical arrangements.
Midnight Love (1982) is thriving with Marvin Gayes fire and spirit. His contribution to music was phenomenal and will never be forgotten! Finally after all these years after his death, much of his work is now seeking much wider acknowledgment and recognition. Marvin Gaye remains an unparalled artist.