This Friday, Mercury Studios will re-issue Marvin Gaye’s previously released live recording, Greatest Hits Live in ’76 on CD. Originally released in 2007 on DVD, the 23-song presentation is a welcome presentation for anyone who does not already own the recording’s aforementioned DVD presentation. That is due in large part to its featured songs, which will be discussed shortly. While the songs that make up the recording’s body are clearly of note in a positive way, the recording is not perfect in its new forthcoming presentation on CD. That is because of its lack of any liner notes. This will be discussed a little later. The recording’s production works with the songs to make for more engagement and entertainment and will be discussed later, too. When it is considered along with the songs, those two elements make the recording a presentation that Marvin Gaye fans and R&B fans in general will find positive.
Marvin Gaye: Greatest Hits Live in ’76, Mercury Studios’ forthcoming re-issue of the same recording originally released by the label – then known as Eagle Rock Entertainment – in 2007 on DVD, is a mostly positive companion piece to that recording. The engagement and entertainment that the recording offers audiences comes in large part through its featured songs. Totaling 23 in all, the songs present a rich cross section of Gaye’s catalog up to that point, reaching as far back as his sophomore 1963 album, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow and as far into his catalog as his 1976 album, I Want You. While so many people know Gaye primarily for his hit slow jam serenade, ‘Let’s Get It On,’ he also produced some more socially conscious content, such as the timeless classic ‘What’s Going On?’ Both those songs are here and were originally featured in two separate albums released by Gaye, Let’s Get It On (1973) and What’s Going On (1971). Also featured in this set is the equally iconic song of determination, ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’ which Gaye released way back in 1967 in his album, United. Lots of people know Diana Ross’ take of the song, which was actually composed by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson in 1966, and Gaye then first made it a hit not long after its composition. At the time of the songs’ performances and recordings, only two of Gaye’s original albums – That’s The Way Love Is (1970), his 1961 debut record, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye — and one tribute album – A Tribute to the Great Nat “King” Cole – were not represented in this collection. To that end, again, what audiences get in these songs are a relatively rich representation of Gaye’s catalog. This is something that is certain to appeal to so many audiences.
While the songs that make up the collection’s body are unquestionably important in the best way possible to Marvin Gaye: Greatest Hits Live in ’76, knowing when and where the songs were recording is impossible to know is impossible. That is because this new CD re-issue of the recording lacks any liner notes at all. That is at least the case with the review copy received by this critic. Hopefully consumer copies do not suffer from this issue, too. If they do, however, then that definitely will detract from the overall engagement and entertainment because it means audiences do not get that background on the songs. It means no stories on the performances or any other notable anecdotes and pieces of history that might otherwise enrich the listening experience even more for audiences. While the lack of any history on the performances featured here is undeniably problematic for the recording’s presentation, it is not enough to doom the recording. To that end, there is one more positive to examine here. That positive is the overall production presented here.
The production featured in these songs makes the listening experience so immersive. There is something about the quality of the sound that really makes audiences feel like they are right there in the concert hall(s), taking in the performances with everyone else. At times, given, Gaye’s vocals do get a little washed out against the instrumentations, but for the most part, what audiences get is a positive concert experience thanks to the positive general effect generated through the production. When this is considered along with the positive of the songs that make up the recording’s body, the whole makes this recording still well worth owning among Marvin Gaye fans and R&B fans alike.
Mercury Studios’ forthcoming CD re-issue of Marvin Gaye: Greatest Hits Live in ’76 is a largely successful presentation from the label’s previous 2007 DVD presentation. Its success comes in large part through its featured songs. The songs featured here represent such a rich portion of Gaye’s catalog up to that point, omitting only two of his original studio recordings. While the songs are clearly and collectively a positive to the recording, the seeming lack of any background on the performances’ histories detracts from the engagement and entertainment guaranteed through the songs themselves. It would have been nice to have at least some background, knowing whether the songs were all from one concert or multiple performances, and if so when and where they were recorded, as well as any other background on Gaye’s rising star through that portion of his career. The lack of that background is problematic but not enough to doom the recording. To that end, the positive general effect of the recording’s production works with the songs to make up for that issue of the lack of liner notes. That is because of the general effect that is guaranteed through the performances. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered they make the recording a presentation that Marvin Gaye fans and R&B fans in general will find mostly enjoyable.
Marvin Gaye: Greatest Hits Live in ’76 is scheduled for release Friday through Mercury Studios. More information on this and other titles from Mercury Studios is available at: