Marvin Gaye – 1978 – Here, My Dear
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Wonderful stuff – and one of our favorite-ever Marvin Gaye albums! This is the legendary two-record set that Marvin wrote and recorded as an alimony payment to his ex-wife Anna Gordy. Although the album was thought of as a no-brainer quickie at the time – and predicted to fail so that Anna wouldn’t get any cash from it -the record is an extremely well-crafted one, filled with extremely personal songs that also have a warm soulful finish, in the style of Marvin’s work on the LP I Want You (which is kind of a nice bookend to this one – as it was an extended love poem to the young girlfriend that caused him to split up with Anna!) Hard and soulful, the record’s a searing testimony to the relationship between Marvin and Anna, and a painful document of the troubles between them – set to some mellow grooves that are easily some of Marvin’s greatest of the 70s! The set’s filled with great “lost” Marvin Gay songs, too – like “Sparrow”, “When Did You Stop Loving Me”, “Anger”, “You Can Leave, But It’s Going To Cost You”, and “Time to Get it Together”. (Dusty Groove)
A1 Here, My Dear (2:48)
A2 I Met A Little Girl (4:58)
A3 When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You (6:11)
A4 Anger (3:58)
B1 Is That Enough (7:42)
B2 Everybody Needs Love (5:41)
B3 Time To Get It Together (3:51)
C1 Sparrow (6:06)
C2 Anna’s Song (5:49)
C3 When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You (Instrumental) (5:59)
D1 A Funky Space Reincarnation (8:12)
D2 You Can Leave, But It’s Going To Cost You (5:27)
D3 Falling In Love Again (4:36)
D4 When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You (Reprise) (0:40)
Review by Trakbuv
The man that was Marvin Gaye – like so many gifted icons – shrouded in pain, misunderstanding, and ultimately doubt. Primarily lauded for his 3 landmark LPs – ‘What’s Going On’, ‘Let’s Get It On, and ‘I Want You’ – he consummated his genius in exemplary fashion with music that is the best that speakers can offer. Yet beneath all of this artistic exuberance lay a world in tatters. His marriage to Anna Gordy, Berry Gordy’s sister, had become a public sham, with him moving in with Janis Hunter in 1973, and having two children by her in the following 2 years. His marriage to Anna in 1964 had apparently been problematic from the outset, with Marvin reflecting that their “union was not marked by undying fidelity”. The parading of 2 extramarital offspring was too much for Anna to bear, and she filed for divorce in 1975. However, settlement proved to be an untidy affair and eventually a compromise was reached where the advance on the next album, and an agreed sum of the first earnings from that album, would go to Anna.
To quote Marvin : “I figured I’d do a quickie record – nothing heavy. Why should I break my neck when Anna was going to wind up with the money anyway ? But the more I lived with the notion of doing an album for Anna, the more it fascinated me. It became a compulsion, I had to free myself of Anna, and I saw this as the way”. In his words, the album became a personal venting of what their marriage had represented : “I sang and sang until I drained myself of everything I’d lived through”. It apparently took 3 months to record, but was held back for over a year : “I was afraid to let it go”, remarked Marvin. In his struggle to convey his feelings on record, Marvin ended up playing all keyboard components to the album : “I didn’t plan it that way. It just turned out to be a hands-on project. I’d never written music so personal”.
Pain, love, suffering, joy – the album epitomises the word ‘bittersweet’. However, the deeply personal tone of the album was met, unremarkably, with a very lukewarm response. Its overtly extravagant, almost nauseating cover design probably didn’t help. It only possessed one possible single, the marvellously infectious ‘A funky space reincarnation’ which did cause some excitement on the disco floor. But how many ‘Best Of’ compilations contain tracks from this LP ? No, this – more so than any of his others – was an ALBUM experience. Its gentle, consuming pathos is perfectly sublimated in the opening bars – this is Marvin Gaye at his most melancholic. ‘I met a little girl’ recalls their meeting – he a tender 20, she 17 years his senior – and their subsequent passage from joy to pain. Probably the saddest song I’ve ever heard is crafted so preciously in ‘When did you stop loving me’ – there is unearthly genius beseeching us here. My favourite Marvin Gaye track of all time. “Anger” subtly captures the cacophony of its title, effortlessly, and that break – ‘I don’t want to be mad, I don’t want to be feeling bad’ – fantastic. Another one of my all-time MG faves – ‘Is that enough’ – extraordinary production, delivery, aura – this is what they call a burner, a jazz cooker – his frustration winding up slowly over it’s mammoth near 8 minutes while never faltering for a single micro moment. The positive softness of ‘Everybody needs love’, the funky infidelity of ‘Time to get it together’, and then the fragile sorrow of ‘Sparrow’ – the freeform sax drawing salty tears from the vinyl. Awesome ! Then one of those heart stopping moments – when he screams ‘Anna’ – it never fails to draw breath – enchanting. And yet another one of my all-time MG’s – the off the planet funk of ‘You can leave’ – spunky sparring, jabbing and jostling with fire – and spitting sexiness – it’s that word genius again, but off the scale ! And as a deliberate focus of optimism, the penultimate track points to the life’s cyclic trap : ‘Falling in love again’.
I heard this LP deep in my hormonal teens – it seemed to capture something that my body and soul was struggling with – a bitter sweetness that comes with confusion, doubt, and the threat of freedom and independence – something that maybe Marvin shared. I leave the final words for Anna : “It’s taken me a while, but with passage of time I’ve come to appreciate every form of Marvin’s music, even songs written in anger. In the end, you know, when he was very sick, he came to see me often. We stayed close”.
In the end, true love has no rules.
Marvin Gaye quotations courtesy of his biographer, David Ritz. This is a must have album for any serious Soul-Funk collection.
Let’s enjoy “Anger” while waiting for the album to download.
Thanks Trakbuv for a very sentimental review! This album is so overwhelmed with feelings (Love, pain, anger..). Feel free to share your feelings with us, along with your opinion about the album and post.