A year after releasing one of the most groundbreaking and courageous records ever put to wax by a black man, what does Gaye do next? A soundtrack to a blaxploitation flick about a ho-hustlin' jive-talkin' pimp daddy that probably helped set blacks in film back 50 years.
As an album, Trouble Man
sure is soundtracky (there's no vocals for at least the first 9 minutes), but - for a soundtrack - it's creamy, jazzy love, something Miles Davis and Gil Evans could be proud of. Musically, I wouldn't even call it 'jazzy' - this is out-and-out Jazz music, but not the kind of improv-heavy jambastard sort of swing that most people associate with Jazz.
is probably guaranteed to bore most non-Jazz appreciators three feet into the ground, but I hear a nice melodic theme in almost all of these tunes (all by Gaye ostensibly, though he thanks his 'orchestrators and arrangers', thus destroying my notion that he was sitting there at the table attentively scribbling down charts for the third-chair oboe player like some chocolate Schubert).
There's one excellent lead single in the killer title track. "Trouble Man" is to my mind an even greater black film soundtrack single than either the over-rated groove song "Shaft", or "Superfly" - neither Isaac Hayes nor Curtis Mayfield could sing like Marvin Gaye, man.
I can't give this one a high rating though - my conscience can't abide me awarding an unqualified recommendation to an album that does nothing more than present decent jazzy vignettes in an inoffensive way.
Plus, the fact that it's a Gaye-written and Gaye-produced record (plus, I think he plays a bunch of the piano parts) doesn't excuse the fact that he doesn't sing nearly enough. So then, it's not really a Marvin Gaye record is it.Rated:
by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza
(blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct]