Marvin Gaye | Live in Montreux 1980
Eagle Vision DVD + CD collectors' edition
On July 7th, 1980 Marvin Gaye might not have been the obvious invitee at the 14th Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, but this DVD of his appearance there is as good a document as any currently available of the soul sage at the height of his talents.

Gaye and his enormous entourage are in such fine form here that they immediately won over the possibly skeptical audience. He looks resplendent in a red tuxedo jacket, festooned with sequins in the shapes of musical notes, treble clefs and dragons, and he sounds great.

Marvin opens his set with a funk fortified rendition of his 1977 chart topper "Got to Give It Up", instantly creating an irresistible groove that must have converted the doubters in the crowd. He follows this with "Funky Space Reincarnation" and "Come Get To This", which leads seamlessly into another of his atmospheric slow grooving gems, "Let's Get It On". For over an hour and a half we are able to witness Marvin perform his numerous hits including a medley of his Tammy Terrell duets. "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" all delivered with Marvin's renowned passion and vigour.

Gaye's backup group is huge—lots of drummers, trumpets, singers—and they fill up the sound on big numbers like "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)"; on other, more contemplative tunes, though, some of them have little to do but snap their fingers. Gaye takes a couple of turns on instrumentals—he's more successful with the keyboards than the drums—and welcomes active audience participation.

The set ends with a stirring rendition of "What's Going On"—the only high point of Gaye's career that's missing is "Sexual Healing", which was two years away, and of course two short years after that came his untimely and violent death.

Marvin Gaye Live in Montreux features Marvin Gaye at his finest. This spectacular performance reminds audiences how Marvin Gaye became the American Legend whose music continues to inspire many major contemporary artists.

The CD contains 12 of the 18 tracks found in the DVD plus "time (to get it together)" not found there.

Roger Humbert for The Live Music Report

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