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Reviews: Marvin Gaye: The Marvin Gaye Collection

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Reviews: 7

Review by Whitehall April 8, 2006 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
While the performances are classics, the new sonics on this disk are unworthy of Mr. Gaye.

I listened to both the SACD stereo track and the CD track on my Sony entry level SACD player and on a entry level Pioneer universal machine. I also heard the CD track on my car stereo. Both the SACD stereo and the CD had a sound quality that I can only describe as AM-ish over all three playback devices. While the blame can probably be put on the original masters, I would note that the DVD soundtrack to "The Big Chill" had a more emotive and euphonic version of "Grapevine."

If the masters are really the limiting factor, why would anyone try to sell a SACD version that offered no sonic improvement?

The multichannel track was not played so it might be better.

In any case, I do NOT recommend this product unless you just gotta have Marvin. Maybe the CD is a better bargain?

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Review by synthy April 9, 2006 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Well, I feel odd having to give this disc a performance rating. These are legendary songs and performances, so while maybe a given song could have been performed better, these are pretty definitve. The song selection is good, although I feel the disc is a little short.

The main reason I'm reviewing this is to provide some contrast to Whitehall's review. The stereo sonics are indeed disappointing, but this is because they stuck to the original mixes that have the metallic way-too-brittle early Motown sound. Perhaps the stereo SACD reveals even more flaws than the CD layer, to me they sounded the same. The multichannel layer is where things get interesting. Whether they remixed them from 4 track or 8 track or whatever, the improvement in fidelity ranges from noticeable (I Heard It Through the Grapevine) to tremendous (Your Precious Love). While they can't make them better than the source tapes, they can and certainly have improved the mixes. Some may find the mixes controversial. There are some tracks where vocals are behind you, where instruments are spread around three-dimensionally. I had no problem with this, as there was no gimmicky movement (except the tambourine on Grapevine) and the sense of space was nice with lots of air.

Still sounds like a 60s-70s recording. There are some crummy-sounding tracks and some great ones. But the point is that it's much more listenable (in multichannel) than it used to be. The star rating takes into account the age of the material. It wouldn't be 4 stars if it was released today.

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Review by Oakland July 28, 2006 (9 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I purchased this SACD a while back but was disappointed by the paucity of “formative” Marvin Gaye music. I thought the songs included made for a chintzy, watered down, list. I was particularly disappointed that some of the great Marvin Gaye songs that made only the soul charts and not the Bill Board Top 40 were not included. Songs that were released when he was only appreciated and known as a soul singer in the Black community were uniformly left off the list. Two legendary songs, in particular, "Hitch Hike" and "Pride and Joy" featured Martha and the Vandella's (before they were known) kickin' plenty ass in the background. To this day my siblings amusingly, but with all due respect, reminiscence the lyrics “Hitch Hike, Hitch Hike Chilin” (the vernacular for “children”). And what about “Stubborn Kind of Fella” when Marvin Gaye would dance on the table tops at Ester’s Orbit Room on 7th Street in Oakland (at least that's what my cousin use to tell me). Likewise, "Wonderful One", "Can I Get a Witness" and others were inexplicably left off in a release that is proclaimed as “The Marvin Gaye Collection”, instead of what it really is “Marvin Gaye’s Best Sellers”. "Can I Get a Witness?"

Make no mistake the songs included are very good as far as they go, but that the song list lacks the foundation, and maybe even the essence of the “complete” Marvin Gaye as an artist. Plus, I believe that the tracks with Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell (what about Mary Wells?) while good and popular belong on a separate disc, not here. In addition, the two channel tracks sounded shrill.

So why, after a thorough lambasting, have I completely changed my tune (pun intended) on this Marvin Gaye “collection”, even though my criticisms are still valid (to yours truly) with respect to content? Ironically, the first influence goes to my two youngest sons, both who are certified card carrying hip hop, boom box, ipod, devotees that in recent months have, for whatever reasons, with exuberance adopted Marvin Gaye (and Stevie Wonder) big time. I have been inundated with Gaye blasting from upstairs. But the most compelling reason for my turnaround is the multi-channel layer.

I invited my son, Alexander, to listen to some Marvin Gaye on a “real” system and I pulled out "The Marvin Gaye Collection" because it includes two of his favorites “Let’s Get It On” and “What’s Going On”. We listened primarily in multi-channel. This turned out to be an astonishing revelation for both of us. Marvin Gaye’s voice is definitively projected into the room as I have never heard. I would never say that it was as though Marvin Gaye was in the room with us. I mean how trite can one be? But because Alexander (my son) said exactly that I have included his observation in these comments. But to be sure, the depiction is graphic. And for those of us (including me) that sometimes question the import of a high quality (and full range) center channel this disc goes a long way toward converting doubting Thomas’.

It is the surround channels, though, that make this disc. Most, if not all, of these selections were released prior to the “quad era” so the multi-channel is almost certainly simulated. But clearly Marvin Gaye (and many other artists of the day), especially with “What’s Going On” and later releases, was reaching well beyond "two-channels", but was severely restricted by the limitations of two-channel technology. This was most evident in the live venue when, with the use of re-verb, and the “speakers every where” approach, that artists like Earth, Wind, and Fire, Issac Hayes, and Marvin Gaye attempted to smash through the two channel barrier. It is incontrovertible (to me) that Marvin Gaye with his use of multi-tracks in his later works was attempting to go beyond two-channel. These works plead for multi-channel technology.

And almost uniformly the mixes are a complete success. Even the most early release (1964) of this collection, “Ain’t That Peculiar” (that most closely represents the “classic” Marvin Gaye in this collection) really draws you into the Motown sound, musicianship, and instrumentation, unlike I’ve ever heard. And the mixes, while sure to be controversial to some, are tastefully done. There is a little “cheese” factor with the opening tambourine in “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. But it’s all good.

What about the two-channel mix? I think somebody just screwed up here. I have never heard such a large disparity in the “sound quality” between a two-channel and multi-channel mix on the same SACD. There is nothing wrong with the “mix” of the two-channel presentation. It’s what I grew up on. But sound quality on this disc (vinyl or well mastered CDs that I have heard with similar material sound much better) is thin and over modulated. When directly comparing the multi-channel with the two-channel the latter is louder by about 6 db and turning it down doesn’t really help the quality.

Clearly the multi-channel simply trumps the two-channel version in terms of sound, but also in presentation and enjoyment. It is a pronounced improvement over a well mastered original.

Now if we can have a “complete”, unabridged, Marvin Gaye anthology akin to the SACD “Sam Cooke, Portrait of a Legend” I would be in Gaye heaven.

And while we’re at let’s have some Stevie Wonder (including “Little” Stevie Wonder)

Robert C. Lang

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Review by analogue March 27, 2009 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
While the songs and the performances are fantastic......please read on. This is far from 5 star sound quality.

I cannot understand why some studio's release sacd's that are excessivly loud and extremely bright. Music should be soothing and the listener should not be concerned with grabbing the volume on his or her stereo for fear that the windows might crack. A listener cannot simply get into this sacd even if they initially think it sounds good because soon enough you will sense the loudness and brittleness of the sound. It affects the actual music.

What could have been a great sacd and collection of songs from Marvin Gaye becomes an exercise in frustration. It's really to bad but it's also important to know that if you, as a music lover wants to spend your hard earned cash on quality......then it's important to do your research first so that said money is not wasted.

What is so difficult about making a decent sacd transfer?? Why do studio's continually rip us off with inferior quality???

If you love Marvin Gaye and want the very best sound quality I would recommend you buying 'WHAT'S GOING ON and Let's get it on' both of which were recently released by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs.

Now those two sacd's are excellent examples of what sacd could and should sound like and what makes sacd and dsd so special.

Do not but this sacd.......not recommended.

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Review by bru87tr January 23, 2010 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I guess I am in the minority here.

I think this is one of the better sounds SACD's I have. But, I do have all pop/rock so it is not saying much. Maybe people here are expecting a little too much ? I am not sure what they are hearing but for when these were recorded and what it sounds like on SACD, I think this SACD sounds wonderful, I always felt it was underrated and it does not look like it will go for any real mony anytime soon.

If you are interested in this SACD, buy it!!!! It is cheap and sounds great.

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Review by progboy January 30, 2011 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Last night my mom (who is very musical and has a gift of an ear) and I sat and listened to a few tracks from this SACD and we both were standing up amazed and his voice here and the recording depth.

I guess to be critical almost with any compilation will have dynamic variances as inherently they come from different sources, under different reocrding circumstances so I don't mind was as expected..

My BIG criticism is that this sucker is far far too short.......they could have made this long SACD .....

But my opinion here is that once you pop this into your SACD player you wont take it out.....

I am really enjoying this one

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Review by Clint Eastwood August 29, 2014 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I've had this SACD for over a year and it's been quite a surprise. I bought it because it was so inexpensive and felt I had nothing to lose. The only negative thing about this disc is the song list isn't complete, and that's a minor complaint considering the great songs and artists on this disc. One thing I would like to comment on is the sound quality. When I buy hi rez discs there are 2 things I can't tolerate; heavy compression and brightness. This disc has neither, as evidenced by the fact that I can crank it up and my ears aren't bleeding. I can't comment on the stereo layer as I'm only interested in the surround portion. A year later and this disc remains a great bargain. Opinions on music quality are subjective but if you see the total ratings on this disc that will tell you all you need to know. Buy it and enjoy some Motown magic in surround at a great price.

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