Marvin Gaye: You’re the Man
After a relative slump that lasted a few years, Marvin Gaye’s career was on fire again as 1972 dawned. The previous year, it had received a much-needed recharge—the album What’s Going On had become his first ever to make the Top 10 on the Billboard LPs chart, and he’d enjoyed three massive hit singles: the title track, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).” Today, What’s Going On never fails to rank near the top of practically every all-time-best list. Gaye was confident that the follow-up he was piecing together, titled You’re the Man , would fare equally well. The songs and productions were strong and his vocal performances were as impeccable as any he’d offered before. But when the topical title single flopped, Gaye, conflicted over events in his life, canceled the release of the in-progress album. Some of the tunes have since found their way into various CD releases, but nearly all of them have never been on vinyl until now. (The new release is limited to vinyl and digital.) That’s a shame because You’re the Man was a worthy follow-up to What’s Going On . Both the deep-funk version of the title track and the more pop-leaning take are powerful even today, and the positive-message and true-love numbers like “I’m Gonna Give You Respect” and “We Can Make It Baby” are equal to Gaye’s other album tracks and singles of the period. Marvin Gaye was a tormented soul, and his decisions weren’t always in his own best interests. Canning this album in 1972 was a mistake, but it’s remarkable to listen to it now and wonder how it might have gone over if he’d given it a chance.