Two records I’ve been listening to lately....
DIANA AND MARVIN by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye
This is a collaboration record between Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. I recall reading in one of Gaye’s biographies a few anecdotes about the recording of this record. Neither Ross nor Gaye wanted to do this album as both were at the peak of their solo popularity in the early 1970’s but had their arms twisted by Motown. They also didn’t get along well (The cover photo is them facing away from each other LOL) – The first day they were to record, Ross (who was pregnant at the time) walked into the studio to find Gaye smoking reefer. She refused to record unless he stopped. Also Ross did not like some of the songs Gaye had chosen to record and told him so. Gaye basically stopped speaking to her. They ended up recording all their parts separately when the other wasn’t around due to this and their touring schedules and Ross’s pregnancy. Still, it’s a very enjoyable record. These aren’t really duets more like two great singers going toe to toe, coming at each other like boxers, most of the accompanying music is not stodgy and overdone but urgent and fresh sounding with truly fine string arrangements....And Ross was wrong about the songs. My personal favorites are the two lifted from Philadelphia Soul sound architect Thom Bell “You Are Everything” and “Stop, Look, Listen”(To Your Heart) . “Everything” in particular is turned into a pumping exercise of wills with a slightly speeded up arrangement (compared to The Stylistics original). Other great tunes – You’re a Special Part of Me, Just Say, Just Say, My Mistake (Was to Love You) (really powerful back and forth from Ross and Gaye on that last one) also the four extra tunes added to the CD reissue are all quality – Too bad they weren’t on the original vinyl.
FOR WOMEN ONLY by Bergen White
Bergen White primarily worked as an arranger and producer but he made this one full length record in 1969 and what a record it is! Really huge sunshine pop orchestral arrangements, dramatic strings galore, harpsichords and fingerpicked guitars, multitracked effortless vocals - so beautiful it is hard to take in at once. White’s viewpoint is that of an observer of romance and women, one who is witnessing not participating which lends this record an unearthly aura like Scott Walker (White is a much better singer though). This is really one of the great (largely) unknown masterpieces of modern music.