What's going on? I'll tell you what's going on. January 27 is the date for Universal imprint Mercury Studios' audio release of Marvin Gaye's Greatest Hits: Live in '76, a concert album featuring 23 songs on CD and 22 songs on single-LP vinyl.
March 1976 saw the release of the Motown superstar's fourth solo studio album of the decade. I Want You built on the erotic themes and smoldering sound of its 1973 predecessor, Let's Get It On. Produced and co-written by Leon Ware, primarily teaming with Gaye and Arthur "T-Boy" Ross, I Want You influenced the development of smooth soul, quiet storm, and neo-soul with its languid, downbeat mood and mellow, spacey soundscapes. Despite some critical reservations, the LP became Gaye's fourth to reach the top ten of the Billboard 200 and his fifth to top the R&B chart. The lead single "I Want You" attained similar success, going to No. 1 R&B and peaking at No. 15 Pop. In September, Gaye took to European stages on a concert tour through October; the tour would include his first visit to the U.K. in a decade.
Greatest Hits: Live in '76 was recorded on October 10 at Amsterdam's Jaap Edenhal. The 4,500-capacity indoor ice rink had opened just three years earlier and became one of the Netherlands' most prominent concert venues. Two songs from Side Two of I Want You, "All the Way Around" and "Since I Had You," opened the show and represented the album. Most of the show would be dominated by lengthy medleys of Gaye's biggest hits. The singer recalled to author Sharon Davis, "I got a list of songs from my promoter. He told me all the tracks that were popular in England and I just put them into medley form for [a] few minutes because I hadn´t done them in years. In fact, when I sing them in the States people go for popcorn and hot dogs. The only way you can perform an old record in the States is if you are very animated about it because Americans don´t want memories. They´re not nostalgic people. So I can´t understand why British audiences want to hear the old stuff because for me the songs are very painful, especially those with Tammi Terrell."
Despite his reservations, Gaye went all the way back to the beginning of his Motown career to feature such early highlights as "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," "Ain't That Peculiar," "You're a Wonderful One," and "Pride and Joy." He also revisited his more recent triumphs including "What's Going On," "Let's Get It On," and "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" as well as those classic duets of "You're All I Need to Get By," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," "It Takes Two," and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Vocalist Florence Lyles filled in for Gaye's original duet partners Kim Weston and the late Terrell on the duets.
The setlist on Greatest Hits: Live in '76 is very similar to that of the 1977 Motown album Live at the London Palladium, which was recorded just a week earlier. These Amsterdam performances premiered on DVD in 2007 and make their official audio-only debut here. The CD and LP editions (the latter of which drops "Since I Had You") are both due from Mercury Studios on January 27 and can be pre-ordered at the links below.
Marvin Gaye, Greatest Hits: Live in '76 (Mercury Studios, 2023)
- All The Way Around
- Since I Had You (CD-only track)
- Come Get To This
- Let's Get It On
- Ain't That Peculiar
- You're A Wonderful One
- Stubborn Kind of Fellow
- Pride And Joy
- Little Darling (I Need You)
- I Heard It Through The Grapevine
- Hitch Hike
- Too Busy Thinking About My Baby
- How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
- Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
- What's Going On
- Save The Children
- You're All I Need To Get By
- Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing
- Heaven Must Have Sent You
- It Takes Two
- Ain't No Mountain High Enough
- Distant Lover