If This World Were Mine

I always slept on the Marvin Gaye duet albums (the Otis Redding – Carla Thomas duet album too, for that matter).  Sure, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is classic, but Gaye’s 70s stuff seemed more exciting, with all the crazy bass lines, multi-tracked vocals, and various orgasm noises.  To my embarrassment, I only recently heard “If This World Were Mine,” Gaye’s duet with Tammi Terrell, off the 1967 album United. (On a separate note, I recently read about Tammi in James Brown’s biography; she sang as an opener for Brown when she was Tammi Montgomery, they were also lovers, and she left Brown after he beat her too many times).  In defense of my previous stance on Gaye duets, I think most of United is boring and trivial in the saccharine, syrupy way that Motown can be sometimes (so many instruments that sound like damn wedding bells!).  But “If This World Were Mine” has undeniable moments: the harmonized “whoa oh’s,” the way Gaye and Terrell trade off their first verses, and more specifically the phrasing Terrell uses when she sings “If you wanted the moonlight, I’d give you that too.” Its too touching to dismiss.

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