Marvin Gaye’s Sequel “You’re the Man,” 47 Years Later

Jonah Tauber, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Falcon rating: 4.5/5


Forty-seven years after it was recorded in 1972, the legendary R&B singer Marvin Gaye’s album You’re the Man was released posthumously on March 29th. The album was supposed to be a follow-up to the 1971 classic What’s Going On, but it didn’t end up getting put out due to a variety of reasons, including the poor performance of its lead single as well as political differences between Gaye and the more moderate head of Motown Records, Berry Gordy. The project has been released as a double album, with the first half being what Gaye recorded before his death, and the rest being other songs recorded at the time and various remixes. Most of the songs had already been released on various deluxe albums and compilations or had been floating around the internet, but as a complete work, You’re the Man is a terrific listen.

The titular track of the album is very funky in its instrumentation and heavily political in its lyrics. While it is in the context of the 1972 presidential election, it echoes ahead in the 2020 campaign as Gaye questions whether challengers to President Nixon can really “right all the wrong this administration’s done?” and demands that they take action to promote peace and justice.

These political themes are continued on the next track, “The World is Rated X,” in which Gaye’s expressive vocals capture the dire situation of the world both then and now. “Piece of Clay” also shows off some of the best of Gaye’s singing and carries its own important message over a gospel-esque track. The first half finishes with a selection of easygoing tunes, complete with the classic Marvin Gaye sound. The optimistic themes of universal love show how, even with the troubling condition of our world, there remains humanity and good throughout.

The second half of the album kicks off with three remixes from producer Salaam Remi that expand on the good vibes from earlier in the album. Marvin’s crooning vocals shine through over the dreamy love songs. These are followed by one of the best songs on the album, “Women of the World,” in which Gaye heralds the liberation of women, again carrying that optimistic feeling. From there on out, the album is a little weaker, with a couple of Christmas songs and alternate mixes, finishing with a funky outro.

While a little disjointed, You’re the Man is a great snapshot of one of the greatest R&B artists at the peak of his career. Its highlights are thoroughly enjoyable tracks full of groovy flavor and genuine emotion. While it can’t compete with Gaye’s opus, What’s Going On, it does carry the same type of deep emotional appeal. With this, the album reminds us what a great musical mind the world lost when Marvin Gaye was killed 35 years ago. Blasts from the past like these are refreshing when listening to mostly contemporary music, and they can serve to invigorate art going forward. If you want some soulful, funky, and socially conscious music, You’re the Man provides just that.


This piece also appears in our April 2019 print edition.