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  1. #1

    Marvin Gaye the writer, producer, arranger - Is that Marvin in the background?

    A question for all you experts!

    Marvin had an impressive catalogue of backing vocalists; The Vandellas, The Love-Tones, The Supremes, The Miracles, The Temptations, The Andantes, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Spinners, Ashford & Simpson, The Originals, The Devastating Affair, The Waters - that surely has to be a Motown record?! [[excuse the pun).

    And duet recordings with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Oma Heard [[aka Drake), Tammi Terrell, Diana Ross, Florence Lyles, as well as the quartet of Marvin, Stevie, Smokey and Diana on 1978's 'Pops We Love You'.

    Marvin recorded a lead vocal on the 1972 'Try It, You'll Like It' which features a mix of The Sisters Love backing vocals as it's an overdub of their 1972 version - both produced by Willie Hutch.

    As a musician he played drums on The Spinners 1961 'That's What Girls Are Made For'.

    And of course he was a prolific writer, producer and arranger for other artists not just himself. Marvin also provided vocals on some of his recordings written and/or produed for other artists...

    The Originals 1970 'Just To Keep You Satisfied' [[aka Marvin's 1970 'God Is Love') - before his own version of the song was released in 1973 with The Originals backing, features Marvin on backing vocals with The Originals. The original [[still no pun intended) version was in 1969 by The Monitors with Richard Street on lead.

    G. C. Cameron's 1974 'I'm Gonna Give You Respect' features Marvin and Willie Hutch backing [[what a glorious trio of voices), which Marvin also recorded a version of.

    Marvin's unique vocal tone and range adds another dimension to any recording...

    Is that Marvin singing in the background of Chris Clark's 1967 'I Love You' and The Miracles' [[with Billy Griffin on lead) 1973 'I Love You Secretly' [[recorded by Marvin in 1972) both written and produced by him?

    Are there other artists recordings where Marvin's magic manifests on the drums, piano or vocally - even if subtle?

    Thanks for your time, and in the words of Marvin Gaye via Chris Clark...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOBd0XWZVbo
    Last edited by PauloRich; 03-11-2023 at 11:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PauloRich View Post
    A question for all you experts!

    Marvin had an impressive catalogue of backing vocalists; The Vandellas, The Love-Tones, The Supremes, The Miracles, The Temptations, The Andantes, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Spinners, Ashford & Simpson, The Originals, The Devastating Affair, The Waters - that surely has to be a Motown record?! [[excuse the pun).

    And duet recordings with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Oma Heard [[aka Drake), Tammi Terrell, Diana Ross, Florence Lyles, as well as the quartet of Marvin, Stevie, Smokey and Diana on 1978's 'Pops We Love You'.

    Marvin recorded a lead vocal on the 1972 'Try It, You'll Like It' which features a mix of The Sisters Love backing vocals as it's an overdub of their 1972 version - both produced by Willie Hutch.

    As a musician he played drums on The Spinners 1961 'That's What Girls Are Made For'.

    And of course he was a prolific writer, producer and arranger for other artists not just himself. Marvin also provided vocals on some of his recording written and/or produed for other artists...

    The Originals 1970 'Just To Keep You Satisfied' [[aka Marvin's 1970 'God Is Love') - before his own version of the song was released in 1973 with The Originals backing. The original [[still no pun intended) version was in 1969 by The Monitors with Richard Street on lead.

    G. C. Cameron's 1974 'I'm Gonna Give You Respect' features Marvin and Willie Hutch backing [[what a glorious trio of voices), which Marvin also recorded a version of.

    Is that Marvin singing in the background of Chris Clark's 1967 'I Love You' and The Miracles' [[with Billy Griffin on lead) 1973 'I Love You Secretly' [[recorded by Marvin in 1972) both written and produced by him?

    Are there other artists recordings where Marvin's magic manifests on the drums, piano or vocally - even if subtle?

    Thanks for your time, and in the words of Marvin Gaye via Chris Clark...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOBd0XWZVbo
    I believe that Marvin can be heard on "Baby I'm For Real" and "The Bells" by The Originals.

    What I've never heard, however, is Marvin doing a Stevie wherein Stevie makes the credited artist sound like a guest vocalist on their own recording.

    Having said that, he comes close on those two Originals hits.

  3. #3
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    It sounds like Marvin in some parts of Diana's BABY IT'S LOVE from her EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING album.

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    Marvin is on Yvonne Fairs Funky Music So Nuff Turns Me On

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    He played drums on Please Mr. Postman.

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    Didn't he play drums on "Dancing In The Street" by Martha & The Vandellas? Some say it was Freddie Waits though. Who else is claimng this honour?

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    Marvin is clearly singing with the guys on the Originals' "I'll Wait For You".

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    Have always wondered if that’s Marvin at the beginning of Tata Vega’s Come In Heaven [[Earth Is Calling)? BTW a truly beautiful song performed to perfection by Tata.

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    Marvin is not on the Tata Vega track.

    Gladys Horton told me long ago that Marvin is not on Postman. That is an urban myth. She said it is Benny Benjamin. It is the same drummer that is on Playboy as well.

    Those are the Funk Bros on Dancing In The Street. It's either Benny or Pistol. From the use of the tom-tom it sounds like Benny on that cut.

    As far as Marvin being on That's What Girls Are Made For, I don't know. Marvin Gaye was not a drummer. He could keep a beat but he didn't have the fancy licks like the other drummers are Motown

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Marvin is clearly singing with the guys on the Originals' "I'll Wait For You".
    And I agree but not on Baby Iím For Real or The Bells as someone says above.

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    And according to Stuart Avig of The Valadiers - Marvin Gaye played keys on "Greetings [[This Is Uncle Sam)"


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    Isn't that Marvin singing "Oo-wee-eee" at the start of "Baby I'm For Real"?

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    Do me a favor and play Yvonne Fair's version of "Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On" and you'll hear a familiar male voice singing along. I'm not gonna tell you who it is, just play it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    Marvin is not on the Tata Vega track.

    Gladys Horton told me long ago that Marvin is not on Postman. That is an urban myth. She said it is Benny Benjamin. It is the same drummer that is on Playboy as well.

    Those are the Funk Bros on Dancing In The Street. It's either Benny or Pistol. From the use of the tom-tom it sounds like Benny on that cut.

    As far as Marvin being on That's What Girls Are Made For, I don't know. Marvin Gaye was not a drummer. He could keep a beat but he didn't have the fancy licks like the other drummers are Motown
    Hmm. Interesting. I don't know where I heard it but they said Marvin played on Postman and That's What Girls Are Made For. I knew that wasn't him on DITS [[that was likely Pistol or Benny). The drumming on Postman could very well be Benny.

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    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    Hmm. Interesting. I don't know where I heard it but they said Marvin played on Postman and That's What Girls Are Made For. I knew that wasn't him on DITS [[that was likely Pistol or Benny). The drumming on Postman could very well be Benny.
    On GERALDO, I remember Gladys Horton actually saying that Marvin played drums on PLEASE MR. POSTMAN. Mary Wilson wrote the same in her first book, although I think that info has since been disproven.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    On GERALDO, I remember Gladys Horton actually saying that Marvin played drums on PLEASE MR. POSTMAN. Mary Wilson wrote the same in her first book, although I think that info has since been disproven.
    Ah! So that's where that myth started...

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    An article about Marvin published today on the 39th anniversary of his death

    https://vermilioncountyfirst.com/202...-remembered-4/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sotosound View Post
    What I've never heard, however, is Marvin doing a Stevie wherein Stevie makes the credited artist sound like a guest vocalist on their own recording.
    On the flip side of that, Marvin Gaye did credit Stevie Wonder for a melody that he used on his song "Praise" from In Our Lifetime.


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    Udiscovermusic Remembers "The Truest Artist" Marvin Gaye.

    The Soul Of Marvin Gaye: How He Became 'The Truest Artist' [udiscovermusic.com]

  20. #20
    Hey all, thanks for the great responses. Such a wealth pool of knowledge.. I learned something new!

    I'd totally forgotten about Diana Ross' 'Baby It's Love' and Yvonne Fair's 'Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On'... a pleasure to revisit those songs and their arrangements.

    I remember when I first heard Tata Vega's 'Come In Heaven [[Earth Is Calling)' that the very Marvin Gayesque falsetto intro and call and response was slightly more pushed than MG. I later found out it was Al Johnson, who provided background vocals on 'Full Speed Ahead' and 'Totally Vega'.

    That's an interesting article @milven, it says "Gaye played drums for The Miracles and sang backup for The Marvelettes". There is no specifics here so I'm guessing there's no legit proof of what exact recordings?

    I would say that is not Marvin on 'Dancing In The Street' and 'Please Mr. Postman' based on sound, technique, the producers and recording dates. It could be on 'That's What Girls Are Made For' based on the same criteria.

    Now at the risk of adding to any more rumours.. I have a memory of reading about an early 60s white male artist at Motown talking about how hard it was to get studio time and how on one recording Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye jumped on various instruments. I don't think it was Mickey McCullers, possibly Detroit DJs Lee Allen or Joel Sebastian... anyone else recall the interview/info?

    @solosound your artist-as-a-producer point is a good one.

    They are incredible in their own right, and I gotta generalise a lil' here, but if we say the first major Motown artist/writer/producer was Smokey, then Marvin, then Stevie and compare:

    Though clearly sensitive to the artist, I find Smokey to be very precise in what he wants to melodically and emotionally achieve. This leans the artist to being fairly Smokeyesque. You can hear it in Eddie Kendricks leads on early Temptations' songs written and produced by Smokey. It can be heard in Diana Ross early Supremes [[less with Jean Terrell in the Smokey produced Supremes 70s album, and with Barbara McNair. I think there's even more insight with Smokey's duets with Mary Wells, Bobby Darin and Diana Ross - very Smokey phrasing. Claudette even talked about Smokey's very specific instructions on phrasing for their 'Wine, Women and Song' duet. Early Claudette leads for The Miracles have abundant Smokey tones and phrasing. Smokey was definitely a vocalist led writer and producer. I feel what sets the recordings a different layer is the rhythm section of The Funk Brothers which brought edge and depth to melody.

    As a gifted multi-instrumentalist who grew up with some of the world's greatest musicians, Stevie Wonder gave complex layers to all parts of his writing and production. This did lead to a very Stevie-heavy presence to his productions and collaborations with Syreeta, The Supremes, Jeff Beck and others. You had to be an Aretha Franklin or a Minnie Riperton to soar above the musical genius of Stevie Wonder and take ownership of his song.

    So back to Marvin, a singer and multi-instrumentalist, somewhere between Smokey and Stevie production-wise. I feel this blend of artist/musician manifested in equal consideration to both the music and the vocals, creating a unique balance. Even with it being clearly a Marvin Gaye song and production, the artist had room to breathe and explore. It seems that wherever Marvin was the writer and producer, and ergo 'in the booth', he could be tempted into the recording to add vocal layers and accompaniment - almost as if it were another instrument in the mix.

    We hear it on all the tracks mentioned in this thread. So, the likleyhood that it is Marvin adding vocals to Chris Clark's 'I Love You' and The Miracles 'I Love You Secretly' is very high?

    As another thought, I know it never got beyond conversations, but if Marvin had of written and produced something on the 70s Supremes, given his complex harmony arrangements, and his penchant to add a little of his vocal in, that surely would have been something to behold!
    Last edited by PauloRich; 04-07-2023 at 01:19 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by PauloRich View Post
    Hey all, thanks for the great responses. Such a wealth pool of knowledge.. I learned something new!

    I'd totally forgotten about Diana Ross' 'Baby It's Love' and Yvonne Fair's 'Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On'... a pleasure to revisit those songs and their arrangements.

    I remember when I first heard Tata Vega's 'Come In Heaving [[Earth Is Calling)' that the very Marvin Gayesque falsetto intro and call and response was slightly more pushed than MG. I later found out it was Al Johnson, who provided background vocals on 'Full Speed Ahead' and 'Totally Vega'.

    That's an interesting article @milven, it says "Gaye played drums for The Miracles and sang backup for The Marvelettes". There is no specifics here so I'm guessing there's no legit proof of what exact recordings?

    I would say that is not Marvin on 'Dancing In The Street' and 'Please Mr. Postman' based on sound, technique, the producers and recording dates. It could be on 'That's What Girls Are Made For' based on the same criteria.

    Now at the risk of adding to any more rumours.. I have a memory of reading about an early 60s white male artist at Motown talking about how hard it was to get studio time and how on one recording Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye jumped on various instruments. I don't think it was Mickey McCullers, possibly Detroit DJs Lee Allen or Joel Sebastian... anyone else recall the interview/info?

    @solosound your artist-as-a-producer point is a good one.

    They are incredible in their own right, and I gotta generalise a lil' here, but if we say the first major Motown artist/writer/producer was Smokey, then Marvin, then Stevie and compare:

    Though clearly sensitive to the artist, I find Smokey to be very precise in what he wants to melodically and emotionally achieve. This leans the artist to being fairly Smokeyesque. You can hear it in Eddie Kendricks leads on early Temptations' songs written and produced by Smokey. It can be heard in Diana Ross early Supremes [[less with Jean Terrell in the Smokey produced Supremes 70s album, and with Barbara McNair. I think there's even more insight with Smokey's duets with Mary Wells, Bobby Darin and Diana Ross - very Smokey phrasing. Claudette even talked about Smokey's very specific instructions on phrasing for their 'Wine, Women and Song' duet. Early Claudette leads for The Miracles have abundant Smokey tones and phrasing. Smokey was definitely a vocalist led writer and producer. I feel what sets the recordings a different layer is the rhythm section of The Funk Brothers which brought edge and depth to melody.

    As a gifted multi-instrumentalist who grew up with some of the world's greatest musicians, Stevie Wonder gave complex layers to all parts of his writing and production. This did lead to a very Stevie-heavy presence to his productions and collaborations with Syreeta, The Supremes, Jeff Beck and others. You had to be an Aretha Franklin or a Minnie Riperton to soar above the musical genius of Stevie Wonder and take ownership of his song.

    So back to Marvin, a singer and multi-instrumentalist, somewhere between Smokey and Stevie production-wise. I feel this blend of artist/musician manifested in equal consideration to both the music and the vocals, creating a unique balance. Even with it being clearly a Marvin Gaye song and production, the artist had room to breathe and explore. It seems that wherever Marvin was the writer and producer, and ergo 'in the booth', he could be tempted into the recording to add vocal layers and accompaniment - almost as if it were another instrument in the mix.

    We hear it on all the tracks mentioned in this thread. So, the likleyhood that it is Marvin adding vocals to Chris Clark's 'I Love You' and The Miracles 'I Love You Secretly' is very high?

    As another thought, I know it never got beyond conversations, but if Marvin had of written and produced something on the 70s Supremes, given his complex harmony arrangements, and his penchant to add a little of his vocal in, that surely would have been something to behold!
    Great post.

    Regarding whose playing drums on "Dancing In The Street", it doesn't really sound like Benny or Pistol, either. I don't recall hearing them play with the snare turned off. Also, the playing isn't tight and snappy enough for Benny, or loose and jazzy enough for Pistol.

    YMMV.

  22. #22
    Thanks

    I'll give DITS another musical deep dive and see what comes up. I mean we have the story from Mickey Stevenson about how the song went from Kim Weston to Martha. We know from Martha that Marvin was in the studio for the recording. Here's an interesting interview with Martha and Ivy Jo [[RIP) on the making of DITS. They don't mention Marvin on the drums explicitly but Ivy Jo does reveal how the drum rhythm was formed from. So, the jury is open on who played the drums. Marvin is still a contender...

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    So it's still up in the air.

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