Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No. 165: Let's Get It On

Band: Marvin Gaye
Album: Let's Get It On
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The template for all slow jams and sex records, "Let's Get It On" gets Marvin Gaye at his sensuous best.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: If there ever was a one-note themed album in existence, "Let's Get It On" is it. There's not a lot happening here other than pure, unadulterated sex grooves.
Best song: What can I say about the title track that hasn't already been said?
Worst song: I can't get the Kanye West song out of my mind when I hear "Distant Lover."
Is it awesome?: Sure. Why not?

The irony in "Let's Get It On" is that some of the material was originally written as spiritual songs, including the title track. The story goes that Ed Townsend -- one of Gaye's closest friends -- convinced him to charge the album with more sexuality and rework some unfinished songs ("Come Get To This," "Distant Love" and "Just To Keep You Satisfied") into more sexual music.

And "Let's Get It On" is the result. Like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding basically created soul music, Gaye created the slow jam on this record. The beats specifically emphasize a certain, ahem, rhythm. It's probably not unfamiliar to anyone reading this. This is intentional and would continue.

It's not hard to see the influence. Gaye's moaning performance (remember, this was released in 1973!) on "Distant Lover" has been aped by Prince millions of times. The bawdy lyrical content certainly influenced later artists like Rick James ("Let's Get It On" and "Give It To Me, Baby" are, in essence, the same plea).

And, let's be honest here, R. Kelly just wishes he was Marvin Gaye.

(Lest we forget Gaye's sartorial influence. His prep-school shirts, beard and kufi are a look that influenced some [Kanye West, The Roots] and is actually copied by others [Common]).

"Let's Get It On" gets to the point and doesn't mess around. It's the best of its kind.

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