Saturday, August 21, 2010

Marvin Gaye: Heavy Love Affair

Admittedly, I didn't pay much attention to Marvin Gaye's 80s output. The dilating chasm between Let's Get It On and the likes of Sexual Healing dimmed my expectations for what was possible beyond. This, unfortunately, would delay my discovery of this funky jewel buried on one the least successful albums his career, In Our Lifetime? This song also represents Gaye's atonement for much of his previous late 70s early 80s disco output. (For those not remembering, disco was an epidemic trend that few artists of the era could escape.) Heavy Love Affair is a much welcome return to funkier material. The promise indicated by the song's title is nobly fulfilled indeed. This piece nails it out of the gate: Between the suggestive muted trumpet and whistling in the opening bars, the hypnotic b.g.vocals, a bass line raised onto a funky pedestal a mile high, and Gaye's zipper-dropping falsettos, if the song doesn't pull the chastity belt from every abstinence vow within broadcast reach, well then, those belts don't deserve to come off.

As for the video, while he may only be lip-synching this point hardly seems to matter. Gaye's intensity couldn't have been more acute than if he were singing live.
(The recording was for some version of French language television. Belgium was somebody's guess.) To say the man oozes smooth class doesn't begin to do him justice: It practically squirts out of him. And to think his original hire at Motown was as a drummer.

A oner, he was.

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