Monday, June 11, 2012

"Here, My Dear" by Marvin Gaye (1978)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl. 

Fun Fact: In true double LP, form the music sprawls across several genres.

As previously stated in the Ground Rules, double LPs tend to play by their own rules and are evaluated a little
differently.  So, let's take a look at each side one at a time.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Highly Recommended (3.5/4 stars)

Plays Like: a mini-chronology of both Marvin's musical career and relationship.  The first two tracks are pure sixties Motown.  Then we get a song that I would still classify as soul, even if it does have a seventies' sensibility.  And then we get funk crossbred with that classic anthemic Marvin Gaye when he has something very heavy on his mind.  The lyrics don't pull any punches - it's clear what's up right out of the gate.  Overall, it serves as a great intro the record.

Key Track: It's pretty much a toss-up between I Met a Little Girl and Anger.  If I have to pick one, it's gotta be Anger.  (Pay close attention, I'm gonna gravitate toward the funk today.)

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

Plays Like: more of the same, only a little more progressive in the sound and in exactly the same headspace lyrically.  First we get funk, then soul, then funky soul.  There are nuances here (like the Beatles-esque French horn on Everybody Needs Love) that didn't pop up on Side One.

Key Track: Is That Enough because it grooves.  Hard.  Like several tracks on "Here, My Dear," it's a great jammy escape.  As opposed to...

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Average (2/4 stars)

Plays Like: smooth jazz.  You may argue that Is That Enough is jazzy.  Maybe so, but it's not on the same level as anything on Side Three.  Granted, there's nothing at all wrong with smooth jazz.  It's just not really my thing unless it's John Coltrane.  From a technical standpoint, they're great musicians.  However, I think Side Three could have been left off altogether and "Here, My Dear" wouldn't have suffered at all.  Do you know the difference between a boring jazz song and an annoying punk song?  Usually about seven minutes.

Key Track: Personally, none.  Instead, give a listen to I Met a Little Girl from Side One.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

Plays Like: space funk.  What a great way to close out!  We get some of the most hardcore funk Gaye ever did at the end of this album.  And we get unabashed hope on an otherwise hopeless release.  And we finally get that song that's been threatening to materialize over the course of four sides now - the funk/jazz/soul fusion song.  And actually, it's pretty good.  I wouldn't have called that.  Basically, Side Four is exactly what you would expect to hear from late-seventies era Marvin Gaye.

Key Track: A Funky Space Reincarnation.  How do you not love that song based on the title alone?  And it delivers exactly what it promises - funk, space and reincarnation are all prominent in the track.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  Matter of fact, it's not just a double album - it meets the regular album criteria I've talked about before.  Matter of fact, it's actually a theme album.  And the theme is inscribed right there on the back cover - pain and divorce.  Even though Side Three isn't my kind of music, it still fits in with the overall theme.  And the music is always interesting (apart from Side Three), the lyrics are always brutally honest and the vocals are always a silky raw nerve. 

Up next, "Herman's Hermits on Tour."  Sadly, I'm not sure if these are live recordings or not.  Only one way to find out...

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