The Album: Forty years ago Marvin Gaye was faced with the challenge of following up not only his biggest selling album ever, but one of Motown’s as well, the groundbreaking What’s Going On. Marvin came up with Trouble Man, a mostly instrumental movie soundtrack to the film of the same name. Many saw it as a cop out, expecting Gaye to offer something similar to its predecessor. In retrospect, the album is actually more similar than not in mood and style, and Trouble Man is very much a musical progression from What’s Going On. The two albums together represent what Gaye’s music sounded like in the early seventies, as he planted the seeds of what would be the neo-soul and acid-jazz movements years later. The album yielded only one hit single (the title track), but received generally positive reviews at the time and sold well.
This 40th anniversary expanded edition contains the remastered original album, and throws in 9 bonus tracks of alternate versions. There is also a complete Disc Two that features the movie’s original film score, complete with cues and another bonus track. Most notable on this disc is Marvin’s alternate vocal on “Trouble Man”, which he overdubs in full voice along with his falsetto.
The Bassists: The biggest problem here is the lack of session musician credits available from the master reels, specifically the entire film band that makes up Disc Two. On Disc One Ron Brown plays on the album opener, “Main Theme From Trouble Man”, and Wilton Felder lays down a perfect groove on “T Stands For Trouble”. Many of the other tracks simply list Marvin on Moog synth with no bassist mentioned, but it’s clear there is bass guitar on a few of the other tracks. The strong Fender Precision presence is heard on most of the film band tracks on Disc Two, so use your imagination and see if you can figure out who’s playing on the session, recorded in LA in late 1972.
Best Tracks: “Main Theme”, “T Plays It Cool”, “Trouble Man”, “T Stands For Trouble”