Marvin (Penze) Gaye Joel Vance - Essay

Joel Vance

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Marvin Gaye was one of the original Motown stable of artists. Like Stevie Wonder, he has declared his artistic independence, and his recordings avoid the shrewd, assembly-line "Motown Sound."… A few years ago he cut an album, "What's Goin' On," which seemed to be entirely made up of one ethereal melody to which he set different lyrics dealing with the conditions of life on the planet. Out of this album came Inner City Blues, which said more in five minutes about the black experience than Curtis Mayfield has been able to say in three years.

Gaye has never been sanctimonious or preachy (though he can preach); his recent efforts have shown him to be a fellow of good will and common sense, as well as being a highly skilled entertainer. [On "Let's Get It On"] he turns to the joys of sex. Fifteen years ago this would have been called a "mood music" album, and that's what it really is. Gaye is honest without being blunt. None of the tunes are memorable, but the point of a mood music album is to create an effect no matter what the qualities of the material might be. And here the effect is right. The album is a happy development. Put it on and enjoy.

Joel Vance, in his review of "Let's Get It On," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1974 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 32, No. 2, February, 1974, p. 90.