I Heard It Through the Grapevine (album)

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In the Groove/I Heard It Through the Grapevine!
Studio album by Marvin Gaye
Released August 26, 1968
Recorded 1967-68
Genre Soul
Length 27:08
Label Tamla
TS-285
Producer Norman Whitfield, Ivy Jo Hunter, Frank Wilson
Marvin Gaye chronology
You're All I Need (with Tammi Terrell)
(1968)
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
(1968)
Marvin Gaye and His Girls
(1969)

I Heard It Through the Grapevine! is the ninth solo studio album by soul musician Marvin Gaye, released on August 26, 1968 on the Motown-subsidiary label Tamla Records. Originally released as In the Groove, it was the first solo studio album Gaye released in two years, in which during that interim, the singer had emerged as a successful duet partner with female R&B singers such as Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell. The album and its title track are considered both as Gaye's commercial breakthrough.

Conception[edit]

By 1968, Marvin Gaye had released only a few solo singles in three years. Between his Kim Weston duet, "It Takes Two" and his Tammi Terrell duets, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Your Precious Love" among others, Gaye released only one single, "Your Unchanging Love", which peaked at number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Motown brought Gaye back to the studio to record a solo album. Recording difficulties aside, Gaye's vocals went through a transition through this period. Perhaps done on purpose, Gaye's earlier collaborator Norman Whitfield and his pupil, Frank Wilson, began to write songs they felt fit the singer's chaotic personal life: Gaye's marriage to Anna Gordy was turbulent as was life on the road in which Gaye grew a constant dislike to live performances and his personal disagreements with Motown CEO Berry Gordy had started to create strain in his relationship with the Motown label.

On top of that, during an October 1967 engagement at Hampden-Sydney College with Terrell, the younger Terrell collapsed from exhaustion into Gaye's waiting arms. Terrell was later diagnosed at the end of the year with having a brain tumor, which depressed Gaye. Some speculate Terrell's illness and subsequent death two and a half years later affected Gaye's performances in which he went from being a soul stylist in the same way his idol Sam Cooke had been into a more gospel-influenced soul vocalist who sounded more in par with Otis Redding, James Brown, and Temptations lead singer David Ruffin. However, during the recording of what would become Gaye's biggest-selling and signature single of his career, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", Whitfield decided to force Gaye to raise his vocal register higher than what he was used to, which Whitfield already tried successfully on Ruffin during the recording of the Temptations hit, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg". Though Gaye and Whitfield reportedly argued over the sessions of "Grapevine", Whitfield was able to get what he wanted from Gaye, and the duo started a collaboration that lasted into the beginning of 1970.

When Whitfield presented "Grapevine" to Berry Gordy, the producer was stunned when Gordy turned it down sensing the song "wasn't a hit" and that "it sucked". Nevertheless, Whitfield released a version of the song by Gladys Knight & the Pips in an attempt to "out-funk Aretha Franklin's "Respect".

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link

Gordy eventually agreed to allow "Grapevine" in the album, now titled In the Groove. But Whitfield was still determined to get Gaye's version of the song released as a single. Motown instead issued the Ivy Jo Hunter-produced "You", which was recorded after "Grapevine" and showcased Gaye hollering in falsetto for the first time. Another single, "Chained", would peaked at number 32 on the pop chart. The latter song was climbing the chart when radio deejays began playing "Grapevine", much to Berry Gordy's chagrin. To everyone's surprise, when Gordy finally allowed the release of Gaye's version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", the song blew up on the charts upon its October 1968 release. By the end of the year, the song had hit number-one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot-Selling Soul Singles charts and by 1969 had reached number one on the UK Singles chart becoming Gaye's first international smash. However, when Gaye heard about its success, he acted coldly to it due to his depressed state over Tammi Terrell. He later told a biographer he felt the song's success was "undeserved".

Nevertheless, Motown re-released the album as I Heard It Through the Grapevine and, due to the song's success, the album shot up to number 2 on the R&B albums chart and peaked at number 63 on the pop albums chart. Gaye's album wasn't the only album to be re-released after a hit single: in 1970, The Miracles' Make It Happen album, initially released in 1967, was re-released in 1970 as Tears of a Clown, after that song hit number-one in the US and internationally. That same year, Diana Ross' self-titled debut album was re-released as Ain't No Mountain High Enough after that song's success. Though Whitfield only produced just one song on the album (producers included Ivy Jo Hunter, Ashford & Simpson and Frank Wilson), Gaye and Whitfield will embark on a two-album collaboration. However, after "That's the Way Love Is" became a hit for Gaye in 1969, Motown released the song a second time on the album of the same name. This album also marked Gaye's first attempts at producing himself in the studio with his own self-penned songs, the funky gospel dancer, "At Last I Found a Love", and the smoother "Change What You Can".

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "You"   Jeffrey Bowen, Jack Coga, Ivy Jo Hunter 2:25
2. "Tear It On Down"   Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson 2:35
3. "Chained"   Frank Wilson 2:38
4. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"   Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield 3:14
5. "At Last (I Found a Love)"   Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye, Elgie Stover 2:37
6. "Some Kind of Wonderful"   Gerry Goffin, Carole King 2:19
7. "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever"   Ivy Jo Hunter, Stevie Wonder 2:43
8. "Change What You Can"   Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye, Elgie Stover 2:37
9. "It's Love I Need"   Stephen Bowden, Ivy Jo Hunter 2:54
10. "Every Now And Then"   Eddie Holland, Frank Wilson 3:06
11. "You're What's Happening in the World Today"   George Gordy, Robert Gordy, Allen Story 2:19
12. "There Goes My Baby"   Benjamin Nelson, Lover Patterson, George Treadwell 2:24

Personnel[edit]