A talent which we’ll not see the likes of again in our lifetime.
David Aaron 2007
'In Our Lifetime is a portrait of a man at personal war with himself’, states Marvin Gaye’s distinguished biographer David Ritz, in one of two fascinating essays included in the re-release of the soul man’s 1979 album In Our Lifetime?
In fact this was not meant to be, as Gaye originally intended to release a commercial dance album entitled Love Man, before deciding that the lyrics were superficial.
He promptly reworked the sessions into a masterpiece of autobiographical songs that reveal an artist at the height of his creative talent and yet on the brink of insanity - and take the listener along his cathartic journey to exorcise his demons.
Haunting melodies brought to life by the 40-year-old Gaye’s versatile vocals, pierce the infectious grooves that infiltrate every track, notably the seductive “Heavy Love Affair” that draws comparisons with the funk Quincy Jones was then perfecting with The Brothers Johnson and Michael Jackson.
Other standout tracks include the progressive “Ego Tripping Out” where Gaye perhaps pays homage to early hip-hop using a primitive rap-style to parody how materialistic and self-obsessed his life had become.
“Love Me Now or Love Me Later” is the album’s most beautiful offering; a gentle psychedelic blues workout covering Marvin’s mental turmoil between good and evil, illustrated by the album sleeve design of an angelic and demonic Marvin.
The included unheard Love Man sessions, shine as an unpolished gem in the reissue that also includes Gaye’s original mix of In Our Lifetime? that Motown reworked without Marvin’s consent – spelling the end of the illustrious relationship.
The Love Man songs are dwarfed by the emotive depth of those on the final mix, but in many instances provide a rare and enlightening insight into his ingenious songwriting methods, particularly on the unedited “Far Cry”, where he’s heard scatting to construct his lyrics and harmonies.
Every soul fan should own a copy of In Our Lifetime? if only to be educated in what made Gaye one of the greatest singer-songwriters to have graced popular music – and a talent which we’ll not see the likes of again in our lifetime.