Marvin Gaye – You’re the Man


Title: You’re The Man
Artist: Marvin Gaye
Label: Motown/UMe
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: March 31 (LP), April 26, 2019 (CD)


Today, Motown is celebrating the birth and the legacy of singer and instrumentalist Marvin Gaye by issuing his never released You’re The Man album. In 1972, Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”—singles from his universally acclaimed album What’s Going On—had each hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles chart. Gaye was quoted as saying, “For most people that would be a blessing. But for me the thought was heavy. They said I’d reached the top, and that scared me because Mother used to say, ‘First ripe, first rotten.’ When you’re at the top there’s nowhere to go but down. No, I needed to keep going up – raising my consciousness – or I’d fall back on my behind. When would the war stop? That’s what I wanted to know – the war inside my soul.”

“You’re The Man,” which was a new single Gaye released in 1972, was said to be a sarcastic riff on political non-action issues as the U.S. presidential campaign was kicking off. Despite the success of his 1971 recordings, “You’re the Man” reached No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles chart but only No. 50 on the Pop charts, not showing much promise for crossover appeal.

Discouraged, Gaye decided to step back from releasing another song or album, which also happened to fall around what Dr. Charles Sykes, ethnomusicologist and Motown scholar, defines as the third phase of Motown, which is the Los Angeles era. Gaye refused to move to L.A. with Berry Gordy and decided to stay in Detroit. During this period (between 1971 and 1972) Gaye produced more than one album worth of music, none of which was released at the time.

Gaye worked with Willie Hutch, Freddie Perren, Fonce Mizell and Hal Davis in the process of creating the album. Over the years, songs from You’re The Man have been included on several CD releases but 15 of the album’s 17 tracks have not been released on vinyl until now. Despite his inner turmoil, that same year Gaye recorded a duet album with Diana Ross, and he accepted an offer to write what became his landmark Trouble Man film score. A year later, he released Let’s Get It On, the biggest hit of his career.

You’re The Man is a reminder of the legacy of Marvin Gaye and his ability to write and produce both message songs and soul music as well as his ability to form a musical team that could help create his vision. Through his internal and external conflict and despite many of the challenges he faced, Gaye has gone down in history as one of this world’s most premiere musicians. This album, although released 35 years after Gaye’s death, is yet another testament to his genius!

Reviewed by Bobby E. Davis Jr