1972 Case File #29.

Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye, Trouble Man

File Between: Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield

Comments: The followup to the groundbreaking, consciousness-raising, and just plain awesome What’s Going On was a blaxploitation soundtrack. Nothing wrong with that; we’ll be checking in on quite a number of soundtracks from major black artists that came out in 1972. There is, though, something wrong with the fact that Marvin Gaye’s angelic voice only appears on about half of the tracks — and only has any particular lyric to sing (rather than smooth improvising) on a grand total of one. The sequencing of the record is highly idiosyncratic, too: it opens with a near-ambient jam entitled “Main Theme From Trouble Man (2).” The sharper, funkier “Main Theme From Trouble Man (1)” doesn’t show up until well into the second side. The music is all good, shifting between mellow and atmospheric to tense and funky, and deep into side two, exploring the uses of space-age synthesizers in a way that’s not the furthest thing from what certain European prog acts were up to at the time. But on the whole it’s mood music, feeling more like What’s Going On outtakes than like any kind of artistic statement.

A Keeper? The various pieces are all good; it’s just kind of a muddled whole. Good thing current technology allows me to separate out the pieces then.

Vinyl Rip: Trouble Man

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation