The most gripping segment of the concert comes with a medley of songs from Gaye’s seminal work, What’s Going On, an album that continues to rank as one of the most astute social commentaries ever set to music. His piercing eyes seemingly glaring into oblivion, Gaye sings these songs with so much conviction, it’s almost unnerving to watch while, at the same time, impossible to look away.
Another medley follows, featuring a sequence of duets including “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Vocalist Florence Lyles capably stands in as Gaye’s duet partner, but it’s difficult to detach the songs from their original artists. With the lone exception of “It Takes Two,” which was originally recorded with Kim Weston, all of the duets here were originally recorded with Tammi Terrell. Only six years after her tragic death, Gaye doesn’t appear all that keen on performing these songs, especially the ones he’d made with Terrell. Like the previous sixties medley, though, this duets medley seems like it was done for the benefit of the grateful audience.
A thrilling and thoroughly expressive performance of “Distant Lover” ends the concert with Gaye dropping to his knees in palpable agony, growling out the words to this desperate plea for love.
By and large, Marvin Gaye – Greatest Hits Live In ’76 emphasizes the soulful depth and immeasurable talent of one of music’s most consummate artists.