Listen To Marvin Gaye's Lost Album, 'You're The Man' In 1972, Gaye began work on a follow-up to his classic album, What's Going On. He laid down over a dozen new tracks, but the project stalled and most of the songs were not released until now.
NPR logo

How Do You Follow A Masterpiece? Marvin Gaye Tried With 'You're The Man'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/707705238/708170991" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
How Do You Follow A Masterpiece? Marvin Gaye Tried With 'You're The Man'

Review

Music Reviews

How Do You Follow A Masterpiece? Marvin Gaye Tried With 'You're The Man'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/707705238/708170991" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In 1972, soul music star Marvin Gaye began recording the follow-up to his mega hit album "What's Going On." He eventually laid down over a dozen new tracks, but personal and professional conflicts derailed the project. Most of the songs were never released except as bonus material on later anthologies. Now they have been assembled into one album out today called "You're The Man." Oliver Wang has our review.

OLIVER WANG, BYLINE: How do you follow up a personal and cultural masterpiece, not to mention a chart-topper? Marvin Gaye's label, Motown, was eager to see the hits keep on coming. But the success of "What's Going On" gave Gaye newfound creative control. And he didn't want to generate a carbon copy of the album he just put out. Instead, beginning in the spring of '72, he went back into the studio with some new ideas in mind.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M GOING HOME")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: One, two, three. One, two, one, two, three.

MARVIN GAYE: (Singing) I'm going home to see my mother. I'm going home to see my dear, old dad.

WANG: Gaye had produced and co-written "What's Going On" in its entirety. But for these new songs, he assembled a flock of producers and arrangers - from such emergent talents as Willie Hutch, Gloria Jones and Fonce Mizell to seasoned veterans like Hal Davis and Gene Page. What emerged was an eclectic mix of styles that included sweeping, socially-conscious anthems...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WORLD IS RATED X")

GAYE: (Singing) Where's the love? Where's the peace? Where's the joy? Where's the hope for us all? God is watching. He knows where you're at.

WANG: ...Snappy dance jams...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE CAN MAKE IT BABY")

GAYE: (Singing) We got love.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #1: (Singing) We got love.

GAYE: (Singing) So much love.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #1: (Singing) So much love.

GAYE: (Singing) Oh, we can make it baby. Oh, girl.

WANG: ...Beatific ballads...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SYMPHONY (SALAAM REMI LP MIX)")

GAYE: (Singing) Symphony, yeah. She's sort of like a song. She moves along in perfect rhyme, oh, la, la. Right now feel perfect time, baby.

WANG: ...And some down home Detroit funkiness.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHECKING OUT (DOUBLE CLUTCH)")

GAYE: (Singing) So you see, they got together. These cats sure are funky. And they thought you might dig a little dance called the Double Clutch.

WANG: Despite compiling more than enough songs to fill an LP, Gaye, for reasons we may never really know, ultimately decided to send most of them down to the vault, and by year's end, had shifted his attention to a duet album with Diana Ross and to scoring the soundtrack for the film "Trouble Man."

It's important to remember this because the songs on "You're The Man" were never meant to form a cohesive album back then. They were a set of ideas, gesturing towards different what-could-have-beens.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU ARE THAT SPECIAL ONE")

GAYE: (Singing) There's something about the way you walk.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing) Walk.

GAYE: (Singing) And there's something about the way you talk.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing) Talk.

GAYE: (Singing) And I saw you sitting there on the shelf.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing) Shelf.

GAYE: (Singing) I knew I had to have you for myself.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing) Self.

WANG: Yet, even if they're mostly a bunch of tunes trying to stick to the wall, the bulk of those songs stick really well. After all, you have Gaye at peak form pairing his indelible voice with some of the best soul production of the era.

It may have taken 47 years to finally surface in a proper way, but "You're The Man" is still a powerful, resonant reminder of the greatness that was Marvin Gaye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY LAST CHANCE (SALAAM REMI REMIX)")

GAYE: (Singing) I think this is my last chance.

CHANG: The album is "You're The Man." Our reviewer, Oliver Wang, is a professor of sociology at Cal State Long Beach and co-hosts the music podcast Heat Rocks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY LAST CHANCE (SALAAM REMI REMIX)")

GAYE: (Singing) My last chance. Hey, baby, may I have...

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.