The Very Best of Marvin Gaye [Motown 2001]
Frankly, there are enough different Marvin Gaye best-of compilations that are on the market, or have been on the market, that fans should be forgiven if they couldn't quite muster a great deal of enthusiasm for yet another one at the time of this release. On its own terms, this double disc is a very good survey of Gaye's most popular songs, starting with his first hit single in the early 1960s ("Stubborn Kind of Fellow") and going all the way up to "Sexual Healing," also including his big duet hits with Tammi Terrell. It's a good starting point for those who want a little more than a standard single-disc Gaye best-of, or one that spans his entire career instead of just some of it. Nevertheless, the 1995 Anthology release is a better deal from every standpoint, including more songs (47 to The Very Best of's 34). It also has some good early hits that do not appear on The Very Best of, such as "One More Heartache," "Try It Baby," and "Baby Don't You Do It," not to mention his 1964 duet hit with Mary Wells, "What's the Matter With You Baby" (though it doesn't have "Sexual Healing"). Those that are willing to spend just a little more time or money on their purchase should consider alternatives, whether Anthology or the more comprehensive The Master box set. Of course, there's always a catch that might cause dedicated fans to hesitate passing this by entirely, namely two rare tracks. One's a previously unreleased stereo mix of the spiritual "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." The other, more interesting find is the previously unreleased 1972 track "Where Are We Going?," a fair but not great track in the same vein as material from the What's Going On album, but poppier; the song was also done by Donald Byrd on his Black Byrd record.