Tag Archives: Tamla

Inner City Blues – Thanks Ben Harper

I recently was watching television and saw concert footage of Ben Harper cover Marvin’s Inner City Blues – Makes Me Wanna Holler. While I was watching, I was wondering if Ben’s fans knew that this song is one of Marvin’s masterpieces.

After singing Motown love songs, Marvin took control of his career and began writing and performing songs with a more socially conscious message. In the early 1970’s life was rough with people living in poverty in the ghettos of America. Back then and being in Toronto, I never understood why ghettos existed in American cities but I now recognize that with increased racialization, people under-housed, and under-employment we will see a rise of concentrated poverty everywhere on earth.

There used to be manufacturing jobs available post WWII in the USA where a man or a woman could work to have money to raise their families. The manufacturing jobs withered away as we live more and more in a digital world and manufacturing moved to where labour is cheaper. Ghettos are not necessarily African American, African Canadian, or Hispanic but are places where people are isolated by their physical features, culture, health, faith and even age.

I was in Boston a few years ago to attend an African American film festival called the Roxbury Film Festival with a colleague, unaware that Roxbury is an area of ostracized, underemployed, disabled, elderly as well as poor, hidden away from the glossy shopping areas of downtown Boston. We had spent most of our time attending screenings in many of the city’s university screening rooms and did not see Roxbury until our last day when we attended a breakfast at the Community Center. We wondered why a wealthy city like Boston does not spend time and money to help the forgotten people living there. Ghettos are hard to leave if you live in one. People need help.

Forty years after Marvin sings Inner City Blues nothing has changed and the song remains most relevant. Makes me wanna holler.Inner_City_Blues_(Make_Me_Wanna_Holler)_label

Thanks to Marvin fan – Canale di funkCinI for uploading and making video to go with it.

1960 and 61 Marvin, the beginning and in love

Marvin's First Album Cover in 1961
Marvin’s First Album Cover in 1961

With a few edits, I picked these early details of Marvin on Wikipedia – Gaye, “a long admirer of different forms of music from early rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz and doo-wop, Gaye sought to mix the styles of Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, Little Willie John (you can really hear Marvin taking on his style) and Jesse Belvin, first getting involved in groups such as the Marquees. After living in Chicago for two years and following a tour in Detroit, lead singer Harvey Fuqua decided to split up the group and take Gaye with him to help get him work in Detroit that was becoming musical. Fuqua then signed Gaye to Harvey and Tri-Phi Records, his own label and also assigned him to work with his then-girlfriend Gwen Gordy’s Anna label. Listen to this playlist to hear Artists that influenced Marvin Gaye

Harvey Fuqua reassigned Gaye’s contract to Motown’s Tamla label where Gaye worked for the following twenty years. It was during this time that he fell in love with Anna Gordy and married within one year. Reference – wikipedia.org “TheSoulfulMoodsofMarvinGaye”

One of the songs on the album “The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye” is I’ll Never Let You Gowritten by Anna Gordy and Harvey Fuqua.Raw Marvin Gaye, you can hear his youth in this tune. The album was recorded over two weeks and was released on June 8, 1961. Sadly, Jesse Belvin died in 1960, listen to this report here. News Report