Tuesday, 6 May 2014

“Trouble Man – 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition” by MARVIN GAYE – A Review Of The 2012/2013 2CD Reissue And Remaster By Hip-O Select

This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


"…A Little Different Time Wise…"
Trouble Man 40th Anniversary Extended Edition (2CDs) by MARVIN GAYE

As I sit here listening to Marvin instructing Trevor Lawrence the Saxophone player on the Alternate Version of "T" Stands For Trouble on Disc 1 (dialogue above) – I’m properly drooling. This is just stunning stuff - and as a veteran of nearly 1400 reviews (hundreds for Soul) – I can safely say that this gorgeous 2CD set may just well be the coolest reissue ever put out in digital history.

While 1971’s "What's Going On" and 1973's "Let's Get It On" are regularly acknowledged as Soul masterpieces and name-checked by everyone who is everyone in love with music that genuinely touches you – real fans have always had a rush to the head at the mere sight of 1972’s "Trouble Man" on vinyl. Gaye himself seemed to rate it as his best work and on the evidence presented to us on this fabulous 2013 overhaul – hot like an oven – doesn’t even come close to how good Marvin was at the time. So let’s get to the Blax facts right away…

Released November 2012 in the USA (January 2013 in the UK) – Hip-O Select B0017676-02 breaks downs as follows:

Disc 1 (73:41 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 13 are the album "Trouble Man" – originally released December 1972 in the USA on Tamla T322L and February 1973 in the UK on Tamla Motown STML 11225. The American issue famously came in a die-cut sleeve with a flap that had him seated beneath the flap – the UK version came in a single laminated cover with no flap and only the seated photo.
Tracks 14 to 22 are all PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED BONUS TRACKS called The “T” Sessions

Disc 2 (47:37 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 19 are "Trouble Man Original Film Score" (in MONO) which features the movie score chronologically reconstructed for the first time since release over 40 years ago. It is PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED in this form.
Track 20 is a Film Band Bonus of "T" At The Cross

The three-way fold out digipak looks the business – the CDs are the same colour as the 1973 American Tamla label while the centre pages of the booklet picture the shot of Marvin sat in his chair from the die-cut sleeve. Under the see-through plastic trays are snaps of tape boxes for Side 1 and 2 and each flap has lovely colour shots of the great man. Very tasty…

But the booklet is a mixture of the beautiful and the baffling – it’s 28 pages are gorgeous – filled with Motown Archive memorabilia, stuff from the collection of Mathieu Bitton, British and American trade adverts from the time, full colour spreads - even Turkish and Japanese pressings of rare singles. There are superb contributions from fans like Joni Mitchell, Lenny Kravitz, movie legend Cameron Crowe and filmmaker George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food, Men Of Honor and Notorious) –as well as reminiscences from the album’s song arranger Dale Oehler (Joni used him for "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns") and the lone guest musician Trevor Lawrence who played Saxophone (Marvin played everything else). All this and detailed annotation on the sessions on the last set of pages etc.  All good…

But then when you get to Page 17 of the Andrew Flory liner notes and the last sentence starts "Less than a year after its release, Trouble…" – you turn over the page – and nothing! It’s not continued because someone’s obviously missed a whole set of paragraphs. It’s staggering sloppy for such a classy looking reissue.

But although that’s a goof worth pointing out – in truth it’s a sideshow to the real deal for long-time Gaye fans and lovers of this nugget album – the BEAUTIFUL NEW REMASTERED SOUND and STUNNING PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED EXTRAS…

ANDREW SKAROW did tape Research, JOHN MORALES mixed the bonus tracks and long-standing Universal Engineer KEVIN REEVES did the overall remaster. The work is exceptionally good – full of muscle and power. The booklet informs us that the 'reconstruction of the score for Disc 2 was painstaking' and it sounds it – segments I’ve never heard finally mixed in with what punters saw on the night. Some of it seems to fade out prematurely but I suspect that is to do what they had to work with. Other than that – track after track – and you’re hit with sonic clarity and warmth that is thrilling.

I’ve had the 1998 CD remaster for years and this version is better – more detail and without being over-trebled for the sake of it. The punch off some of the tracks is shocking – and who can resist the only single taken off the album "Trouble Man b/w Don’t Mess With Mister "T"" – it sounds glorious.

The Bonus Tracks on Disc 1 for me are the best – the Unedited Vocal Version of "T" Stands For Trouble” is brill – huge sound and sexy rhythms – with Marvin scatting over the cool rhythm and Sax. WOW!

Over 300 tiny sound cue segments were recorded for the movie and for this reissue the usable cues have been painstakingly cobbled together to make a cohesive whole. It’s easy to see why music-hall crud like "Pool Hall" was left off the album but slink like "Cadillac Interlude/Cleo's Apartment", "Crap Game…", "Outside Police Station", "Cleaners/Cleo" and the sexy patter of "Penthouse" are so good and moodily atmospheric that they make you want to check out the actual movie itself (well almost). Although the Film Band Bonus “T” At The Cross is probably the worst audio on here – it’s string arrangement is lovely and I can hear why it was included despite the wall of hiss that comes at you as it plays.

Apart from the presentation glitch – this is yet another superb Hip-O Select Motown release (they did the award-winning Singles Box Sets Volumes 1 to 12A).

As the years go by – his legend grows – and I’ll be honest – this fabulous reissue made me shed a tear. Put the blame on Mister T people…

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