In Our Lifetime (Marvin Gaye album)

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In Our Lifetime
Studio album by Marvin Gaye
Released January 15, 1981
Recorded 1979–1980
Marvin's Room,
Los Angeles, California
Seawest Recording Studio,
Honolulu, Hawaii
Odyssey Studios,
London, England
Genre Soul, funk
Length 41:30 (original album)
40:07 (1994 re-release)
138:01 (2007 edition, two-disc)
Label Tamla
Producer Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye chronology
Here, My Dear
(1978)
In Our Lifetime
(1981)
Midnight Love
(1982)

In Our Lifetime is a studio album by soul musician Marvin Gaye, released January 15, 1981, on Motown-subsidiary label Tamla Records. Recording sessions for the album took place at Marvin's Room in Los Angeles, California, Seawest Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii, and at Odyssey Studios in London, England, throughout 1979 and 1980.[1] The album cover was designed by Neil Breeden. Gaye's final album for Motown before leaving for Columbia Records, the album was the follow-up to the commercial failure of Here, My Dear, a double album which chronicled the singer's divorce from Anna Gordy.[2] Entirely written, produced, arranged, and mixed by Gaye, In Our Lifetime was a departure for Gaye from the disco stylings of his previous two studio efforts and was seen as one of the best albums of the singer's late-Motown period.[3]

Conception[edit]

In 1979, Marvin Gaye found himself at a professional and personal low ebb. Two years without a hit since "Got to Give It Up", he had released the commercially dismal Here, My Dear, which then alienated critics and fans alike for the musician's take on his personal life including his troubling marriage to Anna Gordy, which had ended in divorce a couple years before. Gaye married his longtime girlfriend Janis Hunter in October 1977 but within two years, Hunter filed for legal separation, later alleging Gaye had been mentally and physically abusing her during their marriage. Hunter had been the inspiration behind Gaye's 1976 album, I Want You. That year, Gaye decided to reestablish his pop audience, first releasing a slightly autobiographical disco song he titled "Ego Tripping Out", in which he lyrically explained his larger-than-life ego and masked it with personal doubt ("turn the fear into energy/'cause the toot and the smoke won't fulfill the need"). Gaye debuted the song while appearing on Dinah Shore's Dinah & Friends, with the performance later being featured on the DVD, Marvin Gaye - The Real Thing: In Performance 1964-1981.

Test pressing artwork for the cancelled release of Love Man.

The song was supposed to be the leading track off Gaye's next album, a disco-styled album he titled Love Man, with tracks he had recorded at his recording studio complex. However, the album was put on hold as Gaye, now facing a $4.5 million debt with the IRS, went out on a half-hearted world tour to alleviate his debts. Gaye's heart, however, wasn't in the tour, and midway through after a mildly receptive show in Japan and performances in Hawaii, he abandoned the tour, which led to musicians in his band as well as concert promoters suing Gaye for thousands of dollars on reneging on the contract. For weeks, Gaye secluded himself in a bread van while still struggling from his now-crippling cocaine addiction.[4] However, desperate for a fix, he called his mother and asked her to give away earrings he had bought her in exchange for money to buy cocaine. He had also went so far to ask friends such as Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder for money, but they refused.[4] Around this time, Gaye's lawyer advised him to file for voluntary bankruptcy, later resulting in the shutdown of his recording studio, which further depressed Gaye.

A dismal reunion with Hunter around this time led Gaye, high on cocaine, to point a knife to Hunter's chest, only for Hunter to take the knife away from him and leave again.[5] Around this time, Gaye tried finishing his Love Man album but instead of presenting the album with upbeat lyrics, some of the songs dealt with his own life. In the song, "Dance 'N Be Happy", for example, while the chorus repeated "let's dance and be happy", the lyrics, which Marvin sung off the top of his head in falsetto, revealed his anguish at the fallout of his marriage to Hunter, even accusing her of making him "uptight". After hearing a mix in Honolulu, a disillusioned Gaye shelved the album, fearing his music career was over. One day, severely depressed, Gaye ingested a full ounce of cocaine, in his first suicide attempt since the late 1960s, thinking he would die. He later told David Ritz, "I'd given up. The problems were too big for me. I just wanted to be left alone and blow my brains on high-octane toot. It would be a slow but relatively pleasant death, certainly less messy than a gun."[4] During this time, British concert promoter Jeffrey Krueger got contact with Gaye through drug dealers.[6] Krueger, with help from Gaye's friend Jewel Price, convinced Gaye to sober up and start a European tour, Gaye's first since 1976. The tour, which took place in 1980, featured performances in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland and England. The tour ended on a bad note after Gaye failed to show up on time for a command performance for Princess Margaret, leaving Krueger to sue him for breach of contract; eventually Gaye and Krueger settled their dispute without having to go to trial.

Gaye, now scared of a possible arrest warrant for avoiding the IRS, decided to settle in London where he partook on the city's nightlife and suffered a relapse. By now, Gaye had learned of freebasing while living in London and would spend weeks getting high. Gaye also began to reevaluate the Love Man album stating "I had to do something for money, but I also had an obligation - to the truth. Motown wasn't giving me a cent 'cause they were yelling how they'd spent a fortune on the Love Man cover and here I was holed up in Hawaii telling them the love man was dead. He was. The love man was me and I needed to stop that shit."[7] Gaye rethought the album's concept and said he "saw how silly I'd been. Who needed another record moanin' and bitchin' 'bout some woman? Why did I have to regain my throne as the sex king? Who cared about competing with Michael Jackson and Prince? Look what was happening with the world. I had a message to spread. I had my theme."[7]

Recording[edit]

The first recording sessions for the album took place at Marvin Gaye Studios in Hollywood and then at Honolulu's Seawest Recording Studios. Upon arriving to London in 1980 where he settled, Gaye recorded his new concept for the album at London's Odyssey and Air Studios. Songs that Gaye had recorded while in Los Angeles and Hawaii changed from their original approach. The original version of "Love Party" was titled "Dance 'N Be Happy" and mainly focused on his fallout of his marriage to Janis Hunter, only to be rewritten as a pseudo dance song with gospel-influenced lyrics. The blues song, "Just Because You're So Pretty" transformed into "Love Me Now or Love Me Later", which focused on the concept of "good and evil" souls that Gaye felt existed inside human beings. The funk song, "I Offer You Nothing But Love", was transformed into "In Our Lifetime", which included chants from one of Gaye's musicians ("come let's all get funky if you dig the right/come let's all get funky if you dig the wrong"), with the lyrics talking about a possible Armageddon approaching. The mild disco sound of "Lover's Plea" again was altered for more gospel influences in the song "Praise", even praising Stevie Wonder for the inspired riff for the song ("Stevie, we really dig you/hope you don't mind this riff from you"). "Life is For Learning" didn't change from the original song much except for the song's original title with the singer focusing on how he approached his music ("the artist pays the price/so you won't have to pay/if we would listen to what he has to say"). "Funk Me" was altered from the more sexually charged version from Love Man (its original title chanted "funk me" three times) and "Heavy Love Affair", his one song in which he discusses his fallout with Janis Hunter, was originally "Life's a Game of Give and Take", ironically doing the reverse of his other songs in which the original song discussed personal issues with his own life and flipping them around to focus on his fallout with Hunter. "Far Cry" was the only newer song from the sessions in London to be featured along with the instrumental "Nuclear Juice". Gaye also revived "Ego Tripping Out" as a possible entry into the album.

By late December, Gaye had finished the rough draft of the album and later revised the album in a concept album format adding in synthesizer sounds to segue each song into the next, a style he had originally done with albums such as What's Going On, Let's Get It On and I Want You. However, around this time, one of Marvin's touring and recording musicians, bassist Frank Blair, decided to take the contents of the album's master tapes to Motown's Hollywood offices, which was done unbeknownst to Gaye, who was remixing and editing the album in Odyssey Studios in London. Motown, still angered over Gaye's backing away from the Love Man project, revised the album for several weeks.[8]

Release[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[9]
BBC (favorable)[10]
Chicago Tribune 3/4 stars[11]
Robert Christgau A−[12]
Stylus C−[13]

When In Our Lifetime was finally issued in recording stores on January 15, 1981, Marvin was angry over its rush release.[14] Gaye later said, "How could they embarrass me like that? I was humilated. They also added guitar licks and bass lines. How dare they second guess my artistic decisions? Can you imagine saying to an artist, say Picasso, 'Okay Pablo, you've been fooling with this picture long enough. We'll take this unfinished canvas and add a leg here, an arm there. You might be the artist, but you're behind schedule, so we'll finish this painting for you. If you don't like the results, Pablo, baby, that's tough!' I was heartbroken. I was deeply hurt. Motown went behind my back. That's something I'll never forgive or forget."[15][16] Upon hearing it, he said the label had reedited the album without his rightful permission in which Motown admitted to try to make the album commercially viable.[15] However, sales for the album were low despite its critical success producing a sole R&B hit with "Praise" and peaking at number thirty-two on the Billboard Top 200 album charts. After its release, Marvin asked to be let go from his contract.

It was finally granted after CBS Records' urban division president Larkin Arnold bought Marvin out of his Motown contract, thus ending the singer's 21-year relationship with the company in 1982 (Gaye then eventually recorded his final album, Midnight Love, in Belgium).

Over the years, the album was forgotten until the album was re-released by Motown on compact disc in 1994 to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Marvin's death, including the song "Ego Tripping Out" as part of the track listing.

On June 19, 2007, twenty-six years after the album's release, Hip-O Records re-released the album as an expanded edition which included not only the album as it was in its original release but also included alternate cuts from different studio recordings from London's Air and Odyssey Studios, featuring the original 1979 single of "Ego Tripping Out" including an alternate cut from the "In Our Lifetime" sessions.

The second disc released what was from the "Love Man" sessions with instrumental productions that were included in "Lifetime" under different lyrics and different titles. The reissue restored the question mark at the end of the title and was limited to 5,000 copies.[17]

Track listings[edit]

All songs were written, arranged, composed and produced by Marvin Gaye.

Original 1981 release[edit]

Side A
  1. "Praise" - 4:51
  2. "Life is for Learning" - 3:39
  3. "Love Party" - 4:58
  4. "Funk Me" - 5:34
Side B
  1. "Far Cry" - 4:28
  2. "Love Me Now or Love Me Later" - 4:59
  3. "Heavy Love Affair" - 3:45
  4. "In Our Lifetime" - 6:57
  • NOTE: The 1994 re-release adds "Ego Trippin' Out" as track one.

Expanded edition[edit]

Disc one (bonus tracks)
  1. "Nuclear Juice" (Air Studios Mix Outtakes) - 5:46
  2. "Ego Tripping Out" (Air Studios Mix Outtakes) - 4:55
  3. "Far Cry" (Air Studios Mix Outtakes) - 6:21
  4. "Ego Tripping Out" (Love Man: The Single) - 5:13
  5. "Ego Tripping Out - Instrumental" (Love Man: The Single) - 3:43
Disc two
  1. "Praise" (Odyssey Studios Mix) - 5:09
  2. "Life Is For Learning" (Odyssey Studios Mix) - 3:53
  3. "Heavy Love Affair" (Odyssey Studios Mix) - 4:40
  4. "Love Me Now or Love Me Later" (Odyssey Studios Mix) - 5:43
  5. "Ego Tripping Out" (Odyssey Studios Mix) - 4:37
  6. "Funk Me" (Odyssey Studios Mix) - 5:13
  7. "In Our Lifetime" (Odyssey Studios Mix) - 5:51
  8. "Love Party" (Odyssey Studios Mix) - 5:18
  9. "Life's a Game of Give and Take" (The Love Man Sessions) - 4:57
  10. "Life Is Now in Session" (The Love Man Sessions) - 4:04
  11. "I Offer You Nothing But Love" (The Love Man Sessions) - 6:03
  12. "Just Because You're So Pretty" (The Love Man Sessions) - 5:06
  13. "Dance 'N' Be Happy" (The Love Man Sessions) - 6:49
  14. "Funk Me, Funk Me, Funk Me" (The Love Man Sessions) - 5:49
  15. "A Lover's Plea" (The Love Man Sessions) - 6:10

Personnel[edit]

  • Marvin Gaye - vocals, keyboards, drums
  • Robert Ahwry - guitar
  • Gordon Banks - guitar
  • Frank Bates - bass, background vocals
  • Frank Blair - bass, drums
  • Candace Bond - Executive Producer
  • Ray Brown - trumpet
  • William Bryant - drums, keyboards
  • Elmira Collins - vibraphone, background vocals
  • Raymond Crossley - keyboards
  • Fernando Harkness - saxophone
  • Joe James - percussion
  • Gary Jones - percussion, conga
  • Lee Kentle - drums, background vocals
  • Nigel Martinez - drums
  • Kenny Mason - trumpet
  • Joe Mayo - percussion
  • Sidney Muldrew - French horn
  • Curtis Anthony Nolen - guitar
  • Raphael Ravenscroft - alto saxophone
  • Dr. George Shaw - trumpet
  • Nolan Andrew Smith - trumpet
  • Bugsy Wilcox - drums
  • David Ritz - liner notes
  • Preston "Bugsy" Wilcox - drums
  • Ron Slenzak - photography

Chart history[edit]

Album[edit]

Year Chart Position
1981 Pop Albums 32
Black Albums 6

Singles[edit]

Year Title Chart Position
1981 "Heavy Love Affair" Black Singles 61
"Praise" Black Singles 18

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tower.com: In Our Lifetime: The Final Motown Sessions (CD) by .... Tower.com. Retrieved on 2008-08-29.
  2. ^ RS Biography of Marvin Gaye. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2008-08-29.
  3. ^ Allmusic critic Jason Elias says In Our Lifetime was "one of his finest later albums and captures him at his craft was maturing and becoming more multifaceted". All Media Guide, LLC. Retrieved on 2008-08-29.
  4. ^ a b c Ritz 1991, pp. 265.
  5. ^ Ritz 1991, pp. 264.
  6. ^ What's Going On: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye, PBS, 2006
  7. ^ a b Ritz 1991, pp. 267.
  8. ^ Ritz 1991, pp. 280.
  9. ^ Allmusic review
  10. ^ BBC review
  11. ^ Kot, Greg. "Review: In Our Lifetime". Chicago Tribune: 4. July 22, 1994. (Transcription of original review at talk page)
  12. ^ Robert Christgau review
  13. ^ Stylus review
  14. ^ Ritz 1991, pp. 280-281.
  15. ^ a b Ritz 1991, p. 281.
  16. ^ Des Barres 1996, p. 114.
  17. ^ "In Our Lifetime re-release". Hip-O Select. Retrieved August 29, 2008. 

Citations[edit]

  • Des Barres, Pamela (1996). Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-14853-4. 
  • Ritz, David (1991). Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye. Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81191-X.