Robert Johnson | Richmond, KY USA | 08/02/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"These import two-fers' are terrific. They feature terrific sound quality and great packaging. The albums included are:
THAT STUBBORN KINDA FELLOW (1963) ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5) Marvin's first real release (not counting the supper club flop THE SOULFUL MOODS OF MARVIN GAYE) is possibly the grittiest and most soulful album that Motown ever released in the sixties. This lends the disc a little more cohesiveness than the majority of the label's releases during the decade. The three singles are classics and include the seminal hits "Stubborn Kinda Fellow" (#46 Pop, #8 R&B), "Hitch Hike" (#30 Pop, #12 R&B), and "Pride And Joy" (#10 Pop, #2 R&B). As for the album tracks, Marvin's rendition of "A Soldier's Plea" is almost unbearably moving and "Taking My Time" is a hidden gem. Like most Motown records of the era, THAT STUBBORN KINDA FELLOW is expertly crafted and extremely pleasurable, even if it's not always memorable.
HOW SWEET IT IS TO BE LOVED BY YOU (1965) *** (3 out of 5) This popular release is little more spotty and generic than THAT STUBBORN KINDA FELLOW, however HOW SWEET IT IS contains enough quality material to be a good listen. The title song hit #6 on the Pop chart (his best selling single at that date) and is one of the most infectious singles to ever hit the airwaves. The disc's other hits are the driving "You're A Wonderful One" (#15 Pop), the soothing "Try It Baby" (#15 Pop), and the rocking "Baby Don't You Do It" (#27 Pop), all of which are great releases. The superb "No Good Without You" makes excellent use of it's killer refrain, and Marvin's vocals on "Now That You've Won Me" and "Forever" are particularly lovely. The rest of the record's material is typical Motown filler: nothing special, but perfectly listenable.
Cream of Marvin's early sixties
Laurence Upton | Wilts, UK | 01/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although Marvin Gaye rebelled against the production line sound of Tamla and ultimately broke the mould with his self-produced What's Going On, one could never detect any antipathy from the consummate performances he gave on everything he recorded from the moment he signed to the label in 1961, seeing himself as the new Black Sinatra, and much as I admire his later work, for me it is the recordings he made in the sixties that include some of the best records that Motown would put out.
This CD comprises two of the finest of his early albums, That Stubborn Kinda' Fellow, his second album, from 1963, and How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You, from 1965, his fifth solo album. Both are beautifully mastered from the original tapes and come in an attractive package containing all the important rudimentary information, if occasionally incorrect through omission or misprint. The first caveat to note is that although the cardboard sleeve that contains the package has the legend printed large on the front cover, this is only true of the second album. That Stubborn Kinda' Fellow is presented entirely in mono, as was the original album, although all but a couple of the tracks subsequently appeared in stereo on Marvin Gaye's Greatest Hits (1964).
That Stubborn Kinda' Fellow is Tamla at its earthiest, most thrilling and exuberant, and benefits from the newly signed Martha and the Vandellas providing soaring backing vocals on six of the ten tracks (two of these from when they were still a quartet known as the Del-Phis). Some of the recordings date from 1961 and 1962 (before the Vandellas were on the label), and on these former singles and B-sides (Soldier's Plea, Taking My Time, I'm Yours You're Mine and Hello There Angel) the Love-Tones or the Andantes provide vocal backup.
Stubborn Kind Of Fellow and Hitch Hike had both been hit singles and led to the album being commissioned; and Pride And Joy (with a new vocal) was to be Marvin's greatest hit to date a couple of months later. Although considered as a single, the ska rhythm of Wherever I Lay My Hat was not found on a 45 until it became a B-side in 1969. The album was not released in the UK though some of the singles from it came out on the Oriole label, without denting the charts.
Whilst the anorak within me wants to see Marvin Gaye's entire Tamla catalogue released two at a time in this series, my bargain-hunter side concedes that this pairing represents the cream of his output in the first half of the sixties, especially since they share company with aspirational non-pop albums such as Hello Broadway This Is Marvin and A Tribute to the Great Nat King Cole.
How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You is a smoother, more seductive album and is in many ways more consistent than That Stubborn Kinda' Fellow. It kicks off with four sublime A-sides, You're A Wonderful One, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Try It Baby (on which David Ruffin guests) and the much covered Baby Don't You Do It. All of these were big US hits, though fared less well in the UK, where three of them were released on the Stateside label. All but four of the rest of the album tracks were released as B-sides at the time, though both Now That You've Won Me and Forever (the Marvelettes song) were in different versions to these.
The album was recorded between February 1963 and August 1964 with a variety of producers and songwriters and came out in the UK on the newly launched Tamla Motown label in a slightly re-sequenced version, apparently having 14 tracks, though I haven't been able to confirm this by finding a track-list.
There are no bonus tracks, which could have included the related B-sides If My Heart Could Sing, When I'm Alone I Cry (both from the album When I'm Alone I Cry) and Walk On The Wild Side (from Hello Broadway), but perhaps there are plans for these albums to appear in the series.
Between them these two albums have more fabulous Motown moments that one should possibly expect on one CD, featuring one of its finest male vocalists."