A Tribute To The Great Nat King Cole (Remastered) Marvin Gaye
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- 1Nature Boy02:49
- 2Ramblin Rose02:50
- 3Too Young03:47
- 5Straighten Up And Fly Right02:22
- 6Mona Lisa03:01
- 8To The Ends Of The Earth02:18
- 9Sweet Lorraine02:47
- 10It's Only A Paper Moon02:25
- 11Send For Me02:57
- 12Calypso Blues04:04
Info for A Tribute To The Great Nat King Cole (Remastered)
A Tribute to the Great Nat "King" Cole is the sixth studio album by Marvin Gaye. It is a tribute album, dedicated to his idol, late jazz performer Nat "King" Cole, who had died of lung cancer earlier in the year.
It was on Monday, 15 February 1965 when the popular American singer and pianist Nat King Cole fatally succumbed to lung cancer. He was just 45 years old. His passing would be commemorated later that year, on 1 November, by a tribute album from a young man – then a rising star of Motown – who himself would also perish prematurely in his mid-40s. His name was Marvin Gaye.
Gaye was 26 when he went into Motown’s Hitsville studios in Detroit to pay his musical respects to one of his singing idols. By then, the young singer had already notched up two US R&B No.1s (‘I’ll Be Doggone’ and ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’) as well as a string of other chart entries. His career was in the ascendant, and the thinking behind recording an album devoted to songs associated with Nat King Cole was not only to doff his cap to a musician whom he greatly admired, but also to show another side of his musical personality and, more importantly – at least from Motown’s perspective – gain a valuable foothold in America’s lucrative supper club market.
Though a singer whose musical roots were deeply embedded in gospel music, in his personal tastes Gaye gravitated towards jazz and, for a long time, harboured aspirations to be the African-American Frank Sinatra. Initially, Motown’s boss, Berry Gordy, indulged Gaye’s ambition to be a middle-of-the-road entertainer, as long as he cut some hit R&B sides in the process. A Tribute To The Great Nat King Cole, then, wasn’t Gaye’s first foray into jazz territory; it was, in fact, the singer’s third attempt at an MOR album, following When I’m Alone I Cry and Hello Broadway, both collections of standards released by Motown in 1964.
Produced by Hal Davis, Marc Gordon and Harvey Fuqua, Gaye’s Nat King Cole tribute opens with a glorious cover of the eden abhez-written ‘Nature Boy’, Cole’s first record to cross over and top the US pop charts, in 1948. Bathed in lush orchestration, Gaye’s silky voice, despite being different in tone and texture from Cole’s, reveals the influence of the Alabama-born singer via its ultra-smooth phrasing.
Cole’s 1950 chart-topper, ‘Mona Lisa’, is also faithfully rendered by Gaye, whose voice is framed by the opulent sound of massed strings (Nelson Riddle arranged Cole’s original but, as was Motown’s practice at the time, none of the personnel or arrangers on Gaye’s album were listed). In a mellow vein, too, are ‘Unforgettable’, ‘Too Young’ and ‘Sweet Lorraine’. The album takes a left fork down a country road on ‘Ramblin’ Rose’, a revamp of Cole’s 1962 million-selling hit, where Gaye’s plaintive lead is counterpointed by syrupy background vocals.
Gaye also covered some early Cole hits on his tribute. The super-infectious ‘Straighten Up And Fly Right’, originally a 1944 US R&B No.1 for Cole’s trio, is reconfigured into a jaunty Sinatra-style swinger. The same year, Cole reached the R&B Top 5 with ‘It’s Only A Paper Moon’, which Gaye also serves up with plenty of big band heft mixed with pizzazz. In sharp contrast, a late-night blues feel imbues ‘Send For Me’, Gaye’s finger-clicking midtempo take on a Cole chart-topper from 1957, while his take on the 1956 B-side ‘To The Ends Of The Earth’ has a Latin-style groove.
Interestingly, A Tribute To The Great Nat King Cole closes with ‘Calypso Blues’, a lesser-known Capitol single that Cole co-wrote and recorded in 1951. With his seraphic voice accompanied solely by pattering congas, Gaye’s version adheres closely to the lean arrangement of the original recording.
Marvin Gaye, vocals
The Funk Brothers
Brilliant, enigmatic, and headstrong, Marvin Gaye was an innovator. In 2009, he would have been 70 years old, and it has been 25 years since his tragic death. But today Marvin remains as influential and exciting as ever: Rolling Stone recently named him one of the greatest singers of all time.
He was born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. on April 2, 1939, in Washington, D.C., where he dreamed of singing before large crowds; he joined a co-founded a local doo-wop group, the Marquees, who were spotted by Harvey Fuqua, who made them his new Moonglows. Marvin arrived in Detroit on tour with the Moonglows and stayed, as did Harvey, and Marvin was signed to Motown just based on raw singing talent. He was also a songwriter, an OK drummer-and handsome as hell. He wanted to sing jazz, to croon Tin Pan Alley standards, but that didn’t pan out. Motown founder Berry Gordy encouraged Marvin to sing R&B, and once Gaye sang the soulful (and autobiographical) “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow” in 1962, stardom enveloped him. The incendiary “Hitch Hike,” “Pride And Joy,” and “Can I Get A Witness” sold like crazy in 1963, and Marvin oozed silky sexiness on the 1965 classics “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” “I’ll Be Doggone” and “Ain’t That Peculiar.”
By 1968′s immortal “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” and on a series of electrifying duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston (“It Takes Two”), and his ultimate singing partner, the ravishing but ill-fated Tammi Terrell (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” et al), Gaye was a commercial force. He soon became recognized as an artistic one as well.
At decade’s turn, Marvin seized full control of his output with the deeply personal, socially aware 1971 masterpiece What’s Going On, which produced three hit singles: the title track, “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” He defied expectations again with “Trouble Man,” a 1972 hit single featured in his haunting, jazzy score of the movie of the same name. He zoomed to the top of the charts with his passionate Let’s Get It On, while delivering a pop confection in Diana and Marvin, his duet album with Motown’s queen, Diana Ross. I Want You, released in 1976, was another sensual masterwork, a meditation on obsessive love that was also No. 1. Marvin made his personal life public through his songs, and it was never more evident in 1978′s Here, My Dear, a sprawling double-album chronicling his divorce from Anna Gordy, Berry’s sister. Even his No. 1 dance classic from 1977, “Got To Give It Up,” a studio cut added to flesh out the double-LP Live At The London Palladium, was about the singer’s reluctance to get loose on the dance floor.
Marvin left Motown in 1981, with the politically tinged album In Our Lifetime. He fled to London, then Belgium, where he created for Columbia Records “Sexual Healing,” his first Grammy® winner. But another hit was not salvation from his demons. On April 1, 1984, one day before his 45th birthday, Marvin was shot to death by his father.
Marvin’s influence reaches across the generations. He was rightfully among only the second group of artists honored with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987. More recently, Marvin was No. 6 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time. “Motown Week” on American Idol 2009 (Season 8) featured remaining contestants singing not one but two of Marvin’s songs. His records-and his ringtones and his DVDs-are still going gold.
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