Let's Get It On

Marvin Gaye

Motown Records, 1973


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


I can't see anything wrong with sex between consenting anybodies. I think we make far too much of it.

That's what Marvin Gaye wrote in the liner notes to introduce his album Let's Get it On, arguably the king of make-out albums. However, its greatness is also intimidating. Typically, love making is never as smooth, sultry and flat-out sensual as this 30-minute groove fest.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Gaye's socially-conscious work, What's Going On, and Let's Get it On made one of the most powerful social statements of the '70s. One album looked on with a sense of defeatism as he saw social injustice destroying the world. It was a great testament of an artist looking outward and trying to make sense of his world. With Let's Get it On, Gaye shifts the focus inward.

Unfortunately, over-commercialism has not been kind to this album. It's hard not to have your mind play back scores of bad commercials with the title track. Pepsi, pet products, insurance companies, dammit, this is not what Gaye was aiming for when he recorded "Let's Get it On." Still, the album had all of the Motown signatures: jazzy instrumentation, butter-smooth vocals and gorgeous production.

Even though the album has a certain…theme to it, Gaye's demons occasionally creep into the album, namely in the song, "If I Should Die Tonight." Gaye's tragic death makes the song all the more chilling. His ability to provoke is demonstrated in "You Sure Love to Ball" -- opening with the moaning ecstasy of a certain lady. It's pretty harmless in today's world, but thirty years ago -- eyebrows were likely raised by many who preferred Gaye's more traditional forays into soul.

The album ends with "Just to Keep You Satisfied" -- with Gaye crooning, "It's too late, babe…" If there's a flaw to Let's Get it On, it's in its relative briefness and similarity of songs. The listener has eight, basic dead-on ballads. It's ironic that this album is considered to be the epitome of romantic albums, since it was recorded in a haze of pot smoke by an artist who was constantly battling his inner demons. But Gaye's smooth voice holds it all together.

Rating: A-

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© 2004 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Motown Records, and is used for informational purposes only.