Many people know Marvin Gaye's cover of Gladys Knight's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" as the soulful rendition of a Motown hit. After being recorded twice and already charting once, Gaye released his version a year after Knight and shot straight to number one for seven weeks. Smokey Robinson even recorded it with The Miracles, but Motown president, Berry Gordy, was looking for a more aggressive sound for the tune. Gaye's version definitely accomplishes this and then some, especially in this live performance. Marvin and his band add a much funkier, even sultry edge to the tune with the powerful horn parts and added percussion. While I do prefer the arrangement on the original recording, I love the palpable energy of Gaye and his band in this version. The introduction also adds a bit of character to the production, featuring a fake telephone conversation (complete with actual prop phones) between Gaye and one of his backup singers. The backup singer informs Marvin that he saw his fictional woman with one of his also fictional best friends, thus pushing Marvin to express some very real emotions in the form of this performance.
Got any favorite live performances?