Midnight Love

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Midnight Love
Studio album by Marvin Gaye
Released October, 1982
Recorded December 1981-August 1982
Studio Katy, Ohain, Belgium
Devonshire Studios, Los Angeles, California
Kendun Recorders, Burbank, California
Arco Studios, Munich, Germany
Genre Soul, funk, reggae, synthpop, boogie, quiet storm
Length 39:30
Label Columbia
Producer Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye chronology
In Our Lifetime
(1981)
Midnight Love
(1982)
Dream of a Lifetime
(1985)

Midnight Love is the debut Columbia Records album of Marvin Gaye. He signed on with the label in March 1982 following his exit from Motown. The final album to be released before his death, it ultimately became the most successful album of Marvin's entire career.

The disc was certified triple platinum in the United States, selling well over six million copies worldwide. It was nominated for a 1983 Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, spawning the two-time Grammy Award-winning smash, "Sexual Healing". It was ranked number 37 on the Rolling Stone list of the best albums of the 1980s decade[1] and the NME named the album as its Album of the Year in 1983.[2]

Background[edit]

In January 1981, Gaye's final Motown album, In Our Lifetime, was issued on Motown's Tamla label. Gaye was angry over its release and Motown's edit of the album, comparing it to an unfinished Picasso painting and having others finish the painting for him.[3] Gaye vowed afterwards to never record for Motown again.[4][5] The following month, a Belgian concert promoter and a longtime fan of Gaye's music, Freddy Couseart, visited a visibly shaken and depressed Gaye, who was struggling with drug addiction, in London, following the end of a European tour. Concerned for Gaye's health and state, Couseart offered Gaye a place in his pension in Ostend. Gaye, who was traveling with his son Frankie and then-girlfriend, Dutch model Eugenie Vis, agreed to go on the trip though he admitted to his brother Frankie later that he didn't know where Belgium was and that he "left that to the hands of God."[6]

Gaye arrived to Ostend on February 14. That same month, Gaye's marriage to second wife Janis Hunter ended in divorce two years after Hunter filed. Gaye cut down on his drug use while in Ostend and began exercising and attending the local church. Gaye recovered well enough to begin talks of a musical comeback. Disappointed in the results of his last two albums and in his relationship with Motown, as well as disappointing fans during his oft-chaotic concert tours, Gaye, with Couseart's help, began rehearsing a new band for the short Heavy Love Affair Tour, named after Gaye's song from the In Our Lifetime album in Ostend. Some of the rehearsal footage aired on the Belgian TV documentary, Transit Ostend. The tour took place mainly in London, Bristol and Manchester, England, before Gaye performed the final two dates in Ostend. Gaye ended the tour after the Ostend performances and remained in Ostend, along with two of his touring musicians, Gordon Banks and Odell Brown.

Within the final months of 1981, with word of Gaye plotting a musical comeback and an exit from Motown, several labels offered record deals. Gaye eventually accepted CBS Records, which in turn gave him a three-album contract with Columbia. Details of how much the singer was paid when Gaye signed on March 23, 1982 was not made public due to possible interference with Gaye's payment to creditors to receive back taxes, which had prompted Gaye to permanently settle in Europe. It was later determined that it took $1.5 million (US$3,665,690 in 2014 dollars[7]) to buy Gaye's contract out of Motown, with an additional $600,000 advance money (US$1,466,276 in 2014 dollars[7]) awarded to the singer.[1] Gaye had begun recording on elements of his new album starting in December 1981 in Brussels before the deal was set. Figuring he had alienated record buyers and his legion of fans for writing interpersonal albums, Gaye sought to record more mainstream music to win them back. In explaining why he decided to go for the commercial sounds instead of looking inward as he had with his last album, In Our Lifetime, Gaye explained, "I'm worried that I'm getting so introspective, no one will listen. I can't afford to miss this time. I need a hit."[8]

Recording[edit]

One of the first songs Gaye had worked on with musician Odell Brown was a reggae-influenced track that Gaye and Brown had recorded around December 1981. The then-Rolling Stone reviewer David Ritz had arrived to Belgium in April 1982 after he had been tipped off to where Gaye was. Despite Gaye's pleas to not meet up with Ritz, Ritz eventually located Gaye in his Ostend apartment not too far from Couseart's pension where he and Gaye reluctantly continued their interviews that led to the book, Divided Soul.

According to Ritz, he had seen several S&M comic book type of books in Gaye's book shelf. Said to have been disgusted with this, Ritz told Gaye "you need some sexual healing". Ritz then alleged Gaye told him to write a poem. However, this story was disputed by Gaye's friends, family members and fellow musicians. When Couseart was told of this story, he denied Ritz ever having anything to do with the song except for its title.[9] Musicians Odell Brown and Gordon Banks also flatly denied Ritz's accounts, with Brown stating "I never met the guy. All I was told was that he was doing an interview for Rolling Stone."[10] Banks stated that what really happened is Gaye had told Ritz that he was intrigued by Amsterdam's Red Light District and Ritz had responded to it by stating Gaye needed sexual healing but "that was it. David didn't have anything to do with that."[11] Gaye's brother Frankie also stated that all Ritz said was "not only are you sexy but your music is healing" after Gaye played the track to him.[12]

Gaye and Gordon Banks then worked on seven of the album's other tracks. The funk song, "Rockin' After Midnight", actually came by accident from the mixing of two songs.[11] "My Love is Waiting", the sole Gordon Banks composition, was recorded much like the demo.[11] To help out, Columbia had sent Gaye and his musicians several instruments including a Roland TR-808 drum machine and a Jupiter 8 synthesizer. Gaye and Banks mainly contributed to the production, with Harvey Fuqua adding to the production by adding horn sections.[11] Around April 1982, Gaye presented a rough demo of "Sexual Healing" to Columbia executive Larkin Arnold, who was as pleased with the song as Marvin had been.[13] The album took more than nine months to be completed, and was mixed and edited in several studios in Belgium, Germany and the United States, particularly in California.[14] Arnold explained that the production was costly and that Gaye's months in production were sporadic at best.[1] According to Curtis Shaw, Gaye's lawyer, the cost of recording the album was $1.5 million (US$3,665,690 in 2014 dollars[7]), though Arnold put it at "closer to $2 million" (US$4,887,586 in 2014 dollars[7]).[1]

Composition[edit]

Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" from Midnight Love

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Midnight Love contained elements of funk, boogie, Caribbean music, reggae, new wave and synthpop, as well as older genres such as soul, R&B and doo-wop. The reason for these many genres was because, according to Banks, Gaye's music was "progressing" and that it was "changing and it had to change because he didn't want any more ties to Motown".[11] As Larkin Arnold later explained, "Marvin had been living in Europe, and was influenced by both reggae and the synthesizer work of groups like Kraftwerk" and that he "took the rhythm of reggae, the new technology and American soul and came up with something fresh and unique".[1]

"Midnight Lady" started off with assorted percussion, provided by Gaye and other musicians, before having its beat delivered by a drum machine and overdubbed handclaps provided by the singer, before keyboard riffs (also played by Gaye), guitar lines by Banks and a horn section joined in. It was almost two minutes before Gaye began singing the song's first lines. Musically the song had elements of funk, new wave and synthpop; Gaye's vocals also was influenced by the vocal styling in new wave records. The demo of this recording was listed as "Clique Games/Rick James", indicating the song might've been influenced by the music of James'.[15] "Sexual Healing" was influenced by Caribbean music and reggae while also including funk elements musically; vocally the song recalled Gaye's gospel background while his background harmonies (which included Fuqua and Banks as co-backing vocalists) took influence from doo-wop. "Rockin' After Midnight" was also influenced by funk as well as boogie music while "'Til Tomorrow", the sole ballad in the album, was strongly influenced by doo-wop.

The original version of "Turn On Some Music", titled as "I've Got My Music", included some spiritual and autobiographical lyrics, that changed to sexually erotic ones.[8] In addition to the original demo, another alternate version mixed both versions. The reggae-inspired "Third World Girl" was a tribute to Bob Marley, though Gaye refused to mention Marley by name on the track, explaining, "I won't exploit a leader to make a commercial song".[16] The gospel-influenced "Joy" was a tribute to his father's ministry and his own religious background.[16] The song also included a rock-influenced guitar solo from Banks. "My Love is Waiting" had elements of funk, synthpop and gospel music, as evident to Gaye's final words in his thank you calls, "we like to thank our Heavenly Father, Jesus!" The entire album's length was under just 40 minutes.[16]

Release[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[17]
Robert Christgau A−[18]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[19]
RS Album Guide 5/5 stars[20]

Commercial performance[edit]

Midnight Love was released to record retail stores on October 1, 1982, just a day after "Sexual Healing" was released as a single. In response to "Sexual Healing", the album was bought out in droves. By that December, the album had already hit #1 on the Top Black Albums chart and the Top 10 of the Pop albums chart, making it Gaye's eighth album to accomplish this. "Sexual Healing" crossed over to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. By the end of 1982, it had already sold over a million copies. (Midnight Love would eventually reach sales of 3.9 million in America alone.)

Upon Gaye's return to the United States, Gaye attended a party in celebration of the album's accomplishment with a new polished look, reuniting with his ex-wife Anna Gordy Gaye and their son, Marvin III. Eventually the album would sell more than three million copies in the United States alone, becoming Gaye's most successful career album. Worldwide, the album also performed extremely well, hitting #1 in Canada and #7 in the United Kingdom. Overall global sales surpassed six million. The album's biggest hit single, "Sexual Healing", sold over two million US copies and earned an RIAA Platinum certification. It hit the top of the charts in several countries and stayed at #1 on the Top Black Singles chart for ten consecutive weeks, making it the most successful R&B single of the 1980s.

Critical performance[edit]

In his review of Midnight Love, Rolling Stone reviewer Dave Marsh called the album in terms of it being viewed as a comeback as "remarkably arrogant", stating "it simply picks up from 1973's Let's Get It On as if only ten minutes, had elapsed since Gaye hit his commercial peak", though he did state the album was a successful comeback.[21] After its rank on the magazine's list of best eighties albums, the album was described as "an inspired, mature work from one of the greatest soul singers, and is certainly one of the best solo albums of the eighties."[1] In his Consumer Guide Review, Robert Christgau explained that the album's "concentration on the carnal is one reason it's his best ever".[22] In its Picks and Pans Reviews, People cited "too long gone, the Soulful One shows he can still sizzle".[23] At the 1984 Grammy Awards, the album was nominated for a Best Male R&B Vocal Performance Grammy, losing out to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean". "Sexual Healing" won two Grammys the previous year, the only two Gaye won in his lifetime.

In its year-end list, the Village Voice listed it at number eight on its Albums of the Year list.[2] A similar placement was ranked on the Netherlands' Oorlijsten.[2] The UK's NME listed it at number-one on its list.[2] Since then, much like Gaye's previous albums, it has been listed on best-of lists, ranking at number 37 on the United States and Australia Rolling Stone list of top eighties albums.[2] The UK magazine Melody Maker listed it as one of the significant albums to be released between 1982 and 1985. Gary Mulholland listed it as the "261 Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco" in 2006.

Impact[edit]

The album made an impact on future R&B recordings. The Isley Brothers, who released their album, Between the Sheets, in April of 1983, took the same musical approach of Midnight Love and add it to their album.[11] Gordon Banks stated the album "influenced a lot of people doing a mellow thing with a funk vibe in it".[11] Because the album was also among the first pop albums to use a Roland TR-808, the style would be copied by other artists of similar genres in the years to come.[24] In the wake of its success, "Sexual Healing" became one of Gaye's most covered songs as well as being sampled by several artists in the hip-hop and R&B genres. The demo version of "Turn On Some Music" was sampled for Erick Sermon's hit, "Music", giving full credit to Gaye as a leading vocalist, giving Gaye a posthumous top 40 hit in 2001, 17 years after his death. In 1998, Sony Music re-released the album as a two-CD "Legacy" edition set titled Midnight Love and the Sexual Healing Sessions. The same edition would be re-released in 2007, to celebrate the album's 25th anniversary since its release.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Marvin Gaye; except where indicated.

  1. "Midnight Lady" – 5:17
  2. "Sexual Healing" (Odell Brown, Gaye, David Ritz) – 3:59
  3. "Rockin' After Midnight" – 6:04
  4. "'Til Tomorrow" – 4:57
  5. "Turn On Some Music" – 5:08
  6. "Third World Girl" – 4:36
  7. "Joy" – 4:22
  8. "My Love Is Waiting" (Gordon Banks) – 5:07
Deluxe bonus disc (The Sexual Healing Sessions)
  1. Clique Games/Rick James (Original Version of "Midnight Lady") - 5:38
  2. Sexual Healing (Alternate 12-inch Instrumental) - 4:38
  3. Sexual Healing (Original Vocal Version) - 4:39
  4. Sexual Healing (Alternate Vocal/Mix) - 4:49
  5. I Bet You Wonder (Original Version of "Rockin' After Midnight") - 6:42
  6. Rockin' After Midnight (Instrumental) - 7:00
  7. Baby, Baby, Baby (Original Vocal Version of "'Til Tomorrow") - 6:54
  8. I've Got My Music (Original Vocal Version of "Turn On Some Music") - 5:33
  9. Turn On Some Music (Alternate Vocal/Mix) - 5:16
  10. Third World Girl (Original Reggae Version) - 8:00
  11. Third World Girl (Alternate Vocal/Mix) - 6:34
  12. My Love Is Waiting (Alternate Vocal/Mix) - 5:15
  13. Marvin's Message to the CBS Records Staff - 1:01
  14. Sexual Healing (Rehearsal Tape Courtesy of David Ritz) - 2:14

Personnel[edit]

  • Marvin Gaye - vocals, drums, Fender Rhodes piano, synthesizer, organ, bells, glockenspiel, vibraphone, finger cymbals, bongos, congas
  • Gordon Banks - guitar, bass, background vocals, drums, Fender Rhodes piano
  • James Gadson - drums on "Midnight Lady"
  • Bobby Stern - tenor saxophone, harmonica
  • Joel Peskin - alto & tenor saxophone
  • Harvey Fuqua - backing vocals on "Sexual Healing", editing, mixing, production advisor
  • David Stout And The L.A. Horn Section - horns
  • McKinley T. Jackson - horn arrangement
  • Larkin Arnold - executive producer
  • Mike Butcher - engineer, mixing
  • Brian Gardner, Alan Zentz - mastering
  • John Kovarek - engineer
  • Henri Van Durme - engineer

Chart history[edit]

Album[edit]

Year Chart Position
1982 Pop Albums 7
Black Albums 1
1984
(with bonus tracks)
The Billboard 200 103
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 52

Singles[edit]

Year Title Chart Position
1982 "Sexual Healing" Adult Contemporary 34
Black Singles 1
Club Play Singles 12
1983 Pop Singles 3
"'Til Tomorrow" Black Singles 31
"Joy" Black Singles 78

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "100 Best Albums of the Eighties: Marvin Gaye, Midnight Love". RollingStone.com. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Acclaimed Music - Midnight Love". Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  3. ^ Ritz 1991, pp. 280-281.
  4. ^ Ritz 1991, p. 281.
  5. ^ Des Barres 1996, p. 114.
  6. ^ Gaye 2003, p. 132.
  7. ^ a b c d Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Ritz 2007, p. 11.
  9. ^ Humo 1994.
  10. ^ Marvin Gaye: Behind the Legend, 2006
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "'The Man Was a Genius': Tales from Making Marvin Gaye's Final Album". The Atlantic. October 1, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  12. ^ Gaye 2003, p. 144.
  13. ^ Ritz 2007, p. 12.
  14. ^ Midnight Love liner notes, p. 11 (2001)
  15. ^ Ritz 2007, p. 13.
  16. ^ a b c Ritz 2007, p. 15.
  17. ^ Allmusic review
  18. ^ Robert Christgau review
  19. ^ Rolling Stone review
  20. ^ RS Album Guide review
  21. ^ "Midnight Love - Album Reviews". RollingStone.com. January 20, 1983. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Robert Christgau: Album: Marvin Gaye: Midnight Love". Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Midnight Love". People.com. December 18, 1982. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Slaves to the rhythm". CBC News. November 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-28. 

Sources[edit]

  • Des Barres, Pamela (1996). Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-14853-4. 
  • Gaye, Frankie (2003). Marvin Gaye, My Brother. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-742-0. 
  • Marvin Gaye: From Misery to Ostend. March 14, 1994. 
  • Ritz, David (1991). Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye. Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81191-X. 
  • Ritz, David (2007). Midnight Love and the Sexual Healing Sessions.