Friday, June 14, 2013

Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

Thank you BBC4. The soul documentaries of the last few weeks have been worth the licence fee on their own. Two weeks ago there was an excellent programme on Otis Redding, followed by film of the Stax/Volt tour of Europe in 1967, which I saw at the Fairfield Hall in Croydon. Last week it was the turn of Bobby Womack, another soul hero of mine, who has defied many personal problems to make a comeback in the last few years.
Tonight's in depth programme on Marvin Gaye, made in 2005, is another case in point. It analysed
his difficult relationship with his sadistic, cross-dressing, religious father, charted his early career with the Moonglows and his stardom with Motown and marriage to Anna Gordy, the sister of his surrogate father Berry Gordy. There were original interviews with Marvin and with people who knew him well, such as his biographer David Ritz, former Motown artist Mable John and his sister Jeanne, reference to his duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell (I don't think I've seen footage of Tammi before) and his move into the more overtly sexual material of the seventies. Marvin was a troubled man, with a cocaine dealer in one room and a preacher in the next, according to the programme. After periods in Hawaii and Ostend out of the limelight, he returned to stardom witn Sexual Healing and returned to the house of his parents, a move that was to end in tragedy. He was shot by his father in 1984.
Following the Marvin Gaye programme, BBC4 showed a programme on one of the greatest soul finds of recent years - Charles Bradley, now aged 65 - a man who first performed in the sixties but who has only recently been hailed as the successor to James Brown, recording for Daptone records. Another superb soul show on the Beeb.


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