“After The Dance” by Marvin Gaye (1976)

Marvin Gaye was a master of seduction. “After The Dance” sounds like the smoothest come-on ever. Add in Leon Ware’s sumptuous groove and Marvin’s typically sublime background vocal arrangement (wall to wall Marvins!) and the result is one of the standouts on 1976′s I Want You album.  The entire album describes Marvin’s courtship of Janis Hunter, who would go on to become his second wife. Janis wrote a memoir that I’ve been meaning to check out for a hot minute.

Leon Ware (who passed on earlier this year) is a truly unsung hero of soul music. He wrote some stone classics like Minnie Riperton’s “Inside My Love” and Michael Jackson’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are”, which Marvin covers loosely on I Want You. More recently, he worked on Maxwell’s classic debut Urban Hang Suite.

I was familiar with Ware’s Musical Massage album, but only discovered other gems in his catalog after doing a posthumous deep dive. I definitely recommend 1979′s Inside Is Love & 1981′s Rockin’ You Eternally. Perfect music for silk pajamas and Riunite on ice.

Considering Marvin mentions Soul Train in the song’s first verse, it’s no surprise that Don Cornelius asked MPG to croon “After The Dance” on the show. Marvin pulls some rank and performs live. The result is typically exquisite.

NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“After All” by Al Jarreau (1984): I run pretty hot and cold on Mr. Jarreau. His uptempo stuff feels a bit too zerbily-zerp Cliff Huxtable to me (”Boogie Down” kinda makes me want to break furniture.) I respected the man’s vocal gifts (he passed away earlier this year,) but I only rode with him on a handful of songs. 1981′s Breakin’ Away (a Grammy Album of the Year nominee!) is widely regarded as his best work, but this 1984 single is mid-decade adult contemporary balladry at its finest!! If Lionel Richie’d sung this, it would’ve been a #1 smash! It also wouldn’t have been as good.

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