B-side of Hitch Hike
Co-written by the soon-to-be Mrs Marvin Gaye, and Marvin’s producer William “Mickey” Stevenson, at first blush this B-side seems to be a step backwards. Marvin had just spent 1962 reluctantly embracing R&B stardom and turning his back on his dream of becoming a supper-club MOR crooner, the new Nat King Cole. Now, with one chart hit under his belt in Stubborn Kind Of Fellow and another one surely on the way in the A-side, Hitch Hike, Motown had suddenly seen fit to issue a shelved 1961 recording very much in Marvin’s old MOR bag, a schmaltzy piece of doo-wop tinged jazz-lite, on the flip. Confusing.
This just about gets away with it for two reasons. Firstly, Marvin is actually on very good form here, turning in a fine lead vocal that puts most of the MOR dreck on his début solo LP, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye to shame. Secondly, as pseudo-standards go, this one really isn’t too bad at all; it has a pretty tune and it’s a nice showcase for Marvin’s voice, the resulting mix strongly reminiscent of an earlier B-side, Taking My Time. It’s delicate and charming, whilst at the same time being sappy and unspectacular; it does at least sound like Marvin Gaye, the Marvin Gaye we know and love, and that’s worth something.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
(I’ve had MY say, now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, or click the thumbs at the bottom there. Dissent is encouraged!)
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“Contract On Love”