Records: Marvin Gaye’s Anthology (1974) on black, The Promise Ring’s Boys + Girls seven-inch (1998) on black, and the We Do What We Want zine/seven-inch comp (2008) on black.
Place of Purchase: Marvin Gaye came from Repo Records in Philadelphia. Promise Ring was an eBay find. The Olympia punk comp was purchased directly from Matt Canino (RVIVR/ex-Latterman/ex-Shorebirds) via mail.
Thoughts: Marvin Gaye has been on my radar for a long time, but his massive discography always seemed a little daunting. I knew I wanted to start with either What’s Going On or Let’s Get It On, but the guy released so much music that I didn’t know where to go beyond the obvious masterpieces. I was crate-digging in Repo one day when I spotted Anthology, a triple LP greatest hits package from Motown that covers Gaye’s run from 1961-1974. It’s still missing some of Gaye’s later hits like “Let’s Get It On” and “Sexual Healing,” but based on Motown’s excellent similarly themed triple LP for Stevie Wonder’s early work, Looking Back, I knew the set would be the best entryway. Gaye’s list of styles and contributors is stunning; this triple LP showcases one gorgeous R&B classic after another, and I look forward to further exploring Gaye’s canon. However, that inspiration quote from O.J. Simpson in the liner notes is a little awkward.
The Promise Ring’s Boys + Girls is significantly shorter than Marvin Gaye’s Anthology, but just as perfect. Three tunes, 11 minutes. “Tell Everyone We’re Dead” opens the seven-inch; it’s one of my favorite TPR tunes. Frontman Davey von Bohlen always had a knack for cadence in his lyrics, and I love the line “I’m gonna grow wings / And sing / Amen I’m checking out,” and it’s not even the chorus. “Best Looking Boys” is pretty good too, gradually building into an infectious blend of needling guitar and vox. “American Girl [Version 02]” hints at the quieter, more experimental path von Bohlen would pursue in the 00s, but in ’98 it was just a mellow way to close out a great release.
While they weren’t together for long, the idea of Matt Canino (see above) and Chris Bauermeister (ex-Jawbreaker) collaborating in Shorebirds gave me chills. While I found their eventual full-length to be a little underwhelming, the group issued a string of great seven-inches beforehand. Their tune doesn’t disappoint, nor does Canino’s other band, Hooky. I thought Black Bear beat them both, though. “We Fight This With Our Flesh” simultaneously recalls Hot Water Music and Ugly Organ-era Cursive. Awesome.