This is just lovely. Oh Marvin, how did you manage to come across as so sweet, given the mess that was your personal life, an almighty botch-up that ultimately claimed you? In between the stunning music here, there are touching interviews from the '60s to the '80s that show a deeply spiritual, humble man burnt by his demons but soothed and placated by music.
The first half of this collection of Marvin in concert, isn't really in concert at all, what with the barely-disguised miming. Somehow though, he carries it with his irresistible smile and rhythm. Those early songs are quite something, as he cemented his place, along with The Supremes, as one of the Motown stable's centrepiece talents. The first bars of Hitch Hike hit you as only the Motown production team can, before Marvin's vocals hit you for six with a grainy, yet mighty, crispness that hinted at things to come.
As this excellent anthology shows, he trundled along for a few years churning out fairly formulaic hits such as Can I Get A Witness and Ain't That Peculiar, both taken here from appearances on TV shows. What hits home is the precise moment when he opened his lungs and became one of the greatest singers in popular music. That moment was his duet with Tammi Terrell, Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Not his best song, but there is an almost tangible sense of excitement as he begins to fulfil his potential.
That potential was, of course, realised with I Heard It Through The Grapevine. His (genuinely live) performance of it here is breathtaking - a faithful re-enactment of the recording's scintillating rhythm complimented by Marvin's masterful vocal improvisations. The pinnacle of this collection and one of the greatest singles ever released.
Also live are the likes of What's Goin' On and What's Happening Brother, both triumphant, and interspersed here with footage of the inner-city woes that touched him so much. The beautiful, velvety vocal meanderings of these tracks make seem even worse the unfortunate musical aberrations that afflicted Marvin in the early '80s.
Firstly, A Funky Space Reincarnation is an embarrassing, corrupt mess where our hero surrounds himself with futuristic props and a space backdrop in a song about 21st century getting-it-on. Marvin Gaye and science fiction really doesn't work and for once, the song is just awful. Secondly, Ego Tripping Out, again taken from American TV, is a woeful spoken-word disaster where he talks about how good he is in bed. While he may well have been, it is clear that for every example of libido-soul like Let's Get It On, there is dirge like this.
Among the extras is a concert in Belgium from 1981. Fortunately, this brings the whole DVD back round. Performances of After The Dance and a medley of songs from What's Goin' On prove his capacity to groove extended into the eighties, not least in thanks to his fabulous band.
Despite his very human flaws, both musically and privately, there are moments here where it feels like Marvin Gaye was dropped from above. An essential for anyone with even a mere passing interest in the man.