Disagree with the general consensus here: that Let’s Get It On is worse than What’s Going On. Yeah, there’s only one certified classic here – the title track – and not really the title track so much as it is the first 8 seconds of it (the three wah-wah notes; the last one punctuated by that drum; “I’ve been really trying, babe…” communicating years of sexual frustration; one of the best introductions to a song/album the world has ever seen since Please Please Me ten years earlier – while What’s Going On had three.
But not only is “Let’s Get It On” is worth more than those three songs, the rest of Let’s Get It On is worth more than the rest of What’s Going On; no clunky nonsense a la “Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky)” or 7-minute dirges a la “Right On” this time ‘round. (Though that being said, Marvin Gaye, forever the singles artist, does the same thing he did on What’s Going On of putting a remix of the title track to pad out the album, though he’s smart enough to separate “Keep Gettin’ It On” from the title track this time around.) Broadly speaking, Marvin Gaye’s actuallysinging this time instead of silently musing to himself about the politics of the world by repeating the same line; don’t kid yourself if you truly, truly think that politics makes for more interesting conversation than sex. It’s truly disheartening to see people write this one based off subject matter alone; if it bothers you so much, listen to the colors instead: the subtle adding of instruments in “Let’s Get It On” that’s barely noticeable (use headphones); the excellent drumming of “Please Don’t Stay (Once You Go Away)”; the strings of “If I Should Die Tonight”; the bassline of “Distant Lover”; the guitar of “You Sure Love to Ball” ebbing and flowing slowly towards its punctuating hook; the faraway saxophone in the same song; the backing vocals of “Let’s Get It On” (“oooh!”) and “Distant Lover” (the constant reminding “you love her, you love her”) (my favorite song of the bunch). Key moments: the final wail of “Come Get To This” (at the 2:32 mark); “Heaven knows…” of “Distant Lover” (at the 0:22 mark) (Kanye West was smart enough to use it for “Spaceship”); the deeper way Marvin Gaye sings “Distant lover” (at the 2:08 mark) or sings the word “Every” (at the 2:28 mark) communicating the sadness he feels because long distance relationships truly fucking suck.
And … I disagree with the other general consensus here: the title track probably doesn’t work as background music for sexual escapades because it’s been exploited so much as background music for sexual escapades (best/worst usage: when Jason Statham gets it on with Amy Smart in the middle of Chinatown to the shock and bemusement of hundreds of onlookers in Crank). And I’m not sure the rest of the album does either because it’s soft, slow, sensual, and sex, in my opinion, is rarely those three things at once (though it definitely can be and is often greater when it is). The best mixtape for fucking (/love making) seems to be one with John Cage’s “4’33” on repeat.