I Want You (Marvin Gaye song)

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"I Want You"
Single by Marvin Gaye
from the album I Want You
B-side I Want You (Instrumental)
Released April 1, 1976
Format Vinyl single
Recorded Marvin's Room, Los Angeles, California, 1975
Genre Soul, funk, disco
Length 4:34 (single release)
Label Tamla
Writer(s) Leon Ware
Arthur "T-Boy" Ross
Producer(s) Leon Ware
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye singles chronology
"Distant Lover" (live)
(1974)
"I Want You"
(1976)
"After the Dance
(1976)
Audio sample
file info · help

"I Want You" is a song written by songwriters Leon Ware and Arthur "T-Boy" Ross and performed by singer Marvin Gaye. Released as a single in 1976 on the Tamla label, the song introduced a change in musical styles for Gaye, who before then had been recording songs with a funk edge. Songs such as this gave him a disco audience thanks to Ware, who produced the song alongside Gaye.

The song also stood to be one of Marvin's most popular singles during his later Motown period followed by his sabbatical following the release of 1973's Let's Get It On. The song eventually reached number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot Selling Soul Singles chart.[1] It also became a disco hit, reaching number ten on the Disco Singles Chart alongside "After the Dance".

Background[edit]

Originally conceived by Motown songwriter Leon Ware and his songwriting partner "T-Boy" Ross, it was originally intended to be included in Ware's Musical Massage album. When Ware, who was also signed to the label as a solo artist, presented the rough draft of his album to Motown-CEO Berry Gordy, the mogul was appreciative of the songs, including a rough version of "I Want You". But after hearing it, he convinced Ware to give some of the songs to Marvin Gaye, who was coming off the release of his acclaimed 1973 record, Let's Get It On, his final duet recording with Diana Ross and a commercially successful live album and was coming off a US tour at the time. Marvin, who called himself a perfectionist, had struggled with creating a follow-up album to Let's Get It On. When Ware played Gaye the rough draft of "I Want You", Marvin, then inspired by his relationship with his girlfriend Janis Hunter,[2] was motivated to record a convincing performance of the song, which was about a man trying to convince a wayward lover that he wanted the woman to love him as much as he loved her.

Purportedly recorded at Marvin's Room, the singer's new recording studio in Los Angeles, Marvin also reportedly recorded the song while lying on his back of his sofa according to Ware, who said that he couldn't see Gaye at first but then discovered a laid-back Marvin delivering the song in his trademark tenor vocals.

Composition[edit]

The song was a fusion of different genres, an unusual mix for Gaye. The instrumentation included strings, then an important ingredient to soul and disco-styled music in the seventies, percussive congas added a jazz feel to the song, the bass guitar notes and guitar riffs bring in a funk ingredient, while additional guitar (provided by Ray Parker, Jr., then a Detroit session musician) put in an added rock element. Gaye's leading vocals brought in both falsetto and a gospel approach near the ending coda of the song. Additional vocals, later added to Gaye's deluxe edition re-issue of I Want You, showcase two different lead vocal takes by Marvin. The background vocals, all by Gaye, recalled Marvin's early doo-wop roots.

Reception[edit]

Released a day before Marvin's 37th birthday in 1976, the single was released a month after its similarly titled parent album was released, the single gained success on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles chart, eventually peaking at number-fifteen on the Hot 100 and number-one on the R&B chart. The single's light-disco/soul approach helped the song gained a club audience after it was combined with the album's second single, "After the Dance" and peaked at number-ten on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play chart, Marvin's first single on that chart. Eventually the song would help its self-titled album sell over a million copies. Marvin would also be nominated with a Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, losing out the second time to Lou Rawls, with whom he had a competitive rivalry, for his single, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine".

Cover versions[edit]

In 1990, British singer Robert Palmer covered "I Want You" as a medley with another Marvin Gaye song, "Mercy Mercy Me".[3] The song was released as the third single from his tenth studio album, Don't Explain, in January 1991. The song reached number nine in the United Kingdom, six in Canada and sixteen in the United States. R&B vocalist Phil Perry covered the song for his 2006 covers album, Classic Love Songs. Diana Ross, whose brother T-Boy co-wrote the song, covered "I Want You" for her 2007 album I Love You.[4] In 1997 Todd Rundgren released a Bossa Nova version on With A Twist album. American jazz ensemble To Be Continued Brass Band released an instrumental cover version of "I Want You" on their first album, Modern Times (2009).[5]

Madonna with Massive Attack version[edit]

"I Want You"
Promotional single by Madonna with Massive Attack from the album Something to Remember
Released October 2, 1995 (Radio airplay)
Recorded 1995
Genre Trip hop
Length 6:23 (Album Version)
6:04 (Orchestral)
Label
Writer
Producer Nellee Hooper
Audio sample
file info · help

Background[edit]

American singer Madonna recorded a cover version of "I Want You" with British trip-hop group Massive Attack for the Marvin Gaye tribute album Inner City Blues: The Music of Marvin Gaye in 1995. It was also included on her ballads compilation album Something to Remember (1995) and was released as a promotional single.[6] Originally the single was slated to become the first single from Madonna's album and a music video was shot and released to many media outlets, but in the end legality problems between the Motown label and Madonna's record label prevented this from happening. Massive Attack later included the song on their greatest hits compilation Collected in 2006.

History[edit]

Over a year before the release of the album Motown Records, the record label in charge of assembling the artists for the compilation album approached Massive Attack and asked them to pick a song from Marvin Gaye's back catalogue to re-imagine and suggested they do a collaboration with Chaka Khan. A backing track was made to accommodate her vocals, but the recording sessions did not go well. The possibility came up briefly of working with Aaron Neville but this fell through as well because of legality issues. Record producer, Nellee Hooper suggested Madonna as vocalist as he had recently finished producing her 1994 Bedtime Stories album and he set up a meeting with Massive Attack. Daddy G and Mushroom never got the opportunity to meet Madonna during the recording sessions for the song, only 3D along with Hooper would meet with Madonna over in New York for a period of two days, record the vocals with her and then bring them back to Bristol to be worked on. Madonna was so impressed by the finished product that she chose to include the song as the first track on her 1995 compilation album Something to Remember.[7]

The song appears on the album in two versions: the original album version and an orchestral version. Dance remixes were commissioned by Junior Vasquez but never released.

Reception[edit]

Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine said that "I Want You" is the most notable among the three new tracks on Something to Remember.[8] In a review for Inner City Blues: The Music of Marvin Gaye, Erlewine also wrote "A few tracks stand out from the mire, particularly Madonna and Massive Attack's trip-hop re-interpretation of "I Want You"..."[9] Jim Farber of the New York Daily News stated that "[Madonna] has never sounded better than in the cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You"."[10] Because the song was not released officially as a single, "I Want You" never got into the charts.

Music video[edit]

"I Want You" was shot on August 5 and 6, 1995 at Empire Stages in Long Island City, New York and directed by Earle Sebastian. Directed by Earle Sebastian, produced by Joel Hinman, edited by Bruce Ashley, the video was inspired by and pays hommage to A Telephone Call, a short story written by American writer, Dorothy Parker. The video was promoted to VH1 and MTV. MTV Europe did and still does air the video, especially in the late-night show "Chill Out Zone". "I Want You" received a nomination for "MTV Amour" at the MTV Europe Music Awards 1996, but lost to The Fugees's "Killing Me Softly".[11] Julian Hirsh did several mixes of the track, while rare promos featuring nearly a dozen slightly altered versions of the original song exist. The video was also the only case in Madonna's career where a non-released single was given the full video treatment. The video was commercially released in 2009 on Celebration: The Video Collection.

Tracklisting[edit]

Despite the remixing credits it was in fact Warren Rigg who remixed "I Want You". As he remembers, only 4 DAT copies were pressed, and one was given to Junior Vasquez, who played it extensively in his sets, leading people to believe it was actually Junior's mix.

12" Promo single (Maverick, Warner Bros. PRO-14873)

  • "I Want You" (Warren Rigg's Mix) (Originally Credited As Junior's Mix) – 9:30
  • "I Want You" (Warren Rigg's Club Mix) (Originally Credited As Junior's Club Mix) – 5:43
  • "I Want You" (Warren Rigg's Radio Edit) (Originally Credited As Junior's Radio Edit) – 3:55

Vinyl, 12" Unofficial Release (Not on an Official Label)

  • "I Want You" (Master Mix) – 6:20
  • "I Want You" (Orchestral Edit) – 5:56
  • "I Want You" (Vocal Mix) – 6:20
  • "I Want You" (Warren Rigg's Mix) (Originally Credited As Junior's Mix) – 9:30
  • "I Want You" (Warren Rigg's Club Mix) (Originally Credited As Junior's Club Mix) – 5:43
  • "I Want You" (Warren Rigg's Radio Edit ) (Originally Credited As Junior's Radio Edit) – 3:55

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 225. 
  2. ^ Boraman, Greg (September 18, 2003). "Review of Marvin Gaye – I Want You (Deluxe Edition)". BBC. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  3. ^ Ruhlmann, William. Don't Explain at AllMusic
  4. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff. I Love You at AllMusic
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Madonna I Want You US Promo Box Set (323786)". Esprit International Limited. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  7. ^ "I Want You". Massive Attack Website. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  8. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Something to Remember at AllMusic
  9. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Inner City Blues: The Music of Marvin Gaye at AllMusic
  10. ^ Farber, Jim (November 14, 1995). "Big Names in Record Numbers: From Madonna to Stones". Daily News New York. 
  11. ^ "MTV Europe Music Awards Winners 1994–2000". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 113 (45): 50. November 10, 2001. ISSN 0006-2510. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Kiss and Say Goodbye" by The Manhattans
Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single
(Marvin Gaye version)

May 29, 1976
Succeeded by
"Young Hearts Run Free" by Candi Staton