Midnight Love

Midnight Love
Midnight Love
Studio album by Marvin Gaye
Released October 1982
Recorded April-August 1982
Studio Katy, Ohain, Belgium
Genre Soul, funk, quiet storm
Length 46:29
Label Columbia
Producer Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye chronology
In Our Lifetime
Midnight Love
Dream of a Lifetime
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (A-)[2]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[3]
RS Album Guide 5/5 stars[4]

Midnight Love is the final studio album recorded and issued by American soul singer Marvin Gaye and was the singer's first release from Columbia months after leaving his longtime label, Motown. It claimed the number one slot on NME Album of the Year.




By the late winter of 1980, Marvin Gaye was in a personal and professional doldrums. Weakened by a debilitating drug problem, an increasing debt to the IRS which had now extended to $4 million, two failed marriages and losing all of his equipment, Gaye, who had filed for voluntary bankruptcy, had moved away from the continental United States first settling in a bread truck in Hawaii then settling in London after agreeing with British-based music promoter Jeffrey Kruger to begin a European tour. After the tour ended, Gaye settled in London where he was trying to finish his last record with Motown titled In Our Lifetime. However, the album was leaked to Motown offices in Los Angeles by one of Gaye's bass players, which resulted in the singer finally cutting all ties with the label after they edited In Our Lifetime and released it in January 1981.

By that point, Gaye was advised by Belgian concert promoter Freddy Couseart to move away from London to his native country, Belgium, to get his life in order. Settling in Ostend, Belgium, Gaye was motivated by the beaches of the city's coastal port and was inspired to control his drug addictions cutting down on his use of marijuana and cocaine until eventually gaining brief sobriety. That late summer, the 42 year-old singer launched a comeback tour. Hearing of Gaye's tour inspired a number of record labels to visit him to sign with them. Gaye eventually decided to sign with CBS Records becoming the fifth Motown-associated artist (after Michael Jackson, Mary Wells, The Miracles, and Teena Marie) to do so.

Before a deal could be set, however, Gaye had to finish negotiations to get out of his Motown contract settling with them in March 1982. That month, he signed a three-album contract with CBS' Columbia division.


Always a perfectionist, Gaye struggled to record material for the album. In the early summer of 1982, Larkin Arnold was anxiously awaiting word on Gaye's album. When he received no responses to his inquiries, he visited Gaye again in Belgium to learn of progress with the album. Gaye and Larkin butted heads during the conversation until Gaye's friend and collaborator of an upcoming autobiography, David Ritz, presented Larkin an audio tape demo of a song Gaye, Ritz and musician Odell Brown had worked on titled, "Sexual Healing". Arnold gave Gaye the OK on the song sensing it to be a hit. Other songs came with the help of Gaye's guitarist and brother-in-law, Gordon Banks. The album was recorded between April and August of 1982 in Ohain, Belgium. Gaye originally had intentions of recording a personal album depicting his emergence from drug addiction to celebrate his brief sobriety, but his longtime friend and original mentor, Harvey Fuqua convinced him to make songs he had written to fit the landscape of the times in the music industry. Inspired by the success of rivals like former label-mates Lionel Richie and Rick James as well as emerging megastar Michael Jackson, whom he felt was the greatest threat to his fan base, he decided to cut what he felt was "commercial enough" to grant him a comeback after years of chart inactivity. At the end of September 1982, Marvin was finally ready to release the album. That month, CBS released the first new Marvin Gaye single in over a year with "Sexual Healing".

Release and reaction

That September, CBS issued "Sexual Healing" as a single, which caught on to R&B radio listeners. Sales and airplay of the single reached a fever pitch by late October, when Midnight Love was released to record stores. The song then rose to number-one on the Hot Black Singles Chart becoming the fastest-rising R&B single in five years and Gaye's first major big hit since his disco smash, "Got to Give It Up". Upon his return to the United States, Gaye cut his first physical music video for the song in Ostend. The song successfully crossed over to pop audiences and by January had risen to number-three on the Billboard Hot 100. Later on, Billboard commented that among only two other singers - Aretha Franklin and Madonna - Gaye became the only male artist to place a song on every position of the Hot 100's top ten listings. Eventually staying at number-one on the R&B chart for a total of ten consecutive weeks, the song would become the longest-running number-one single on that chart during the entire decade later selling over a million copies. The RIAA would later certified "Sexual Healing" as a platinum single. Midnight Love was released in October of 1982 and peaked at number-seven on the Billboard 200 and number-one on the Black Albums chart becoming Gaye's eighth number-one album on that chart and his first number-one on that chart since 1977's Live at the London Palladium. It eventually sold over three million US copies certifying the album as triple -platinum while selling a total of six million albums worldwide, it also became a worldwide hit peaking at number-four on the UK Albums chart. The album yielded a few R&B-charted singles - "Joy", which peaked at number-thirty-one on the chart while the album's lone ballad, "'Til Tomorrow", rose as high as number-seventy-eight. "My Love is Waiting", the final track on the album, was issued initially as a b-side to "Sexual Healing" in the UK but the song received a positive response from UK fans that it was also issued as a single eventually peaking at number-thirty-four. The album was ranked #37 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 80's.


Despite the international success of Midnight Love, which earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance in February 1984, Gaye was not able to shake the demons that caused him to move to Europe. Back to abusing drugs, Gaye struggled with a relatively successful North American tour, which ended in August 1983. During the tour, friends commented that during the performance of "Sexual Healing", Gaye felt as if he had to please his female fans' sexual desires of him. He came on stage wearing a robe and pajamas and at times stripped down to his underwear resulting in what David Ritz later described as "a sad parody of himself"[5]. After the tour's end, Gaye, who still owed the IRS $4 million in back payments at the time, settled down at the Tudor-styled mansion he bought for his parents located at the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles where he continued to abuse drugs and struggled to get out of the house becoming a recluse. Several musicians such as Barry White and Jermaine Jackson later commented that they were billed to work with Gaye on his follow-up to Midnight Love but never got a chance to. Friends and family members also tried to get Gaye to leave the house, a few including his brother Frankie, also were attempting to take Gaye back to Belgium, where he reportedly told his mother he was going after repeated arguments with his father Marvin Gaye, Sr.

On April 1, 1984, the day before his 45th birthday, after one violent argument, Marvin Gaye, Sr. fatally shot his son in the heart. Marvin Gaye died from his gunshot wounds later that day. After Gaye's death, CBS Records and Motown issued two posthumous releases and later on in the next decade, Motown re-released several of Marvin's conceptual 1970s masterworks. In 1998, CBS reissued Midnight Love under the double-album, Midnight Love and the Sexual Healing Sessions, which included not only the original album but instrumentals of several of the album's dance tracks, an acappella of "Sexual Healing", an alternate vocal featuring a deleted verse from the song, and a homemade Belgian demo of the song recorded on tape. The album also featured two versions of the song, "Turn On Some Music", one of the outtakes, an a cappella version of the song titled "I've Got My Music", was later sampled by Erick Sermon for his song, "Music", adding another posthumous chart hit for Marvin in 2001. In 1989, Midnight Love was ranked #37 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the The 100 Greatest Albums of the 80's.

Track listing

All tracks composed by Marvin Gaye; except where indicated.

  1. "Midnight Lady" – 5:17
  2. "Sexual Healing" (Odell Brown, Gaye, David Ritz) – 3:59
  3. "Rockin' After Midnight" – 6:04
  4. "'Til Tomorrow" – 4:57
  5. "Turn On Some Music" – 5:08
  6. "Third World Girl" – 4:36
  7. "Joy" – 4:22
  8. "My Love Is Waiting" (Gordon Banks) – 5:07
Deluxe bonus disc (The Sexual Healing Sessions)
  1. Clique Games/Rick James (Original Version Of "Midnight Lady") - 5:38
  2. Sexual Healing (Alternate 12-inch Instrumental) - 4:38
  3. Sexual Healing (Original Vocal Version) - 4:39
  4. Sexual Healing (Alternate Vocal/Mix) - 4:49
  5. I Bet You Wonder (Original Version Of "Rockin' After Midnight") - 6:42
  6. Rockin' After Midnight (Instrumental) - 7:00
  7. Baby, Baby, Baby (Original Version Of "'Til Tomorrow") - 6:54
  8. I've Got My Music (Original Version Of "Turn On Some Music") - 5:33
  9. Turn On Some Music (Alternate Vocal/Mix) - 5:16
  10. Third World Girl (Original Reggae Version) - 8:00
  11. Third World Girl (Alternate Vocal/Mix) - 6:34
  12. My Love Is Waiting (Alternate Vocal/Mix) - 5:15
  13. Marvin's Message To The CBS Record Staff - 1:01
  14. Sexual Healing (Rehearsal Tape Courtesy Of David Ritz) - 2:14


  • Marvin Gaye - vocals, drums, Fender Rhodes piano, synthesizer, organ, bells, glockenspiel, vibraphone, finger cymbals, bongos, congas
  • Gordon Banks - guitar, bass, background vocals, drums, Fender Rhodes piano
  • James Gadson - drums on "Midnight Lady"
  • Bobby Stern - tenor saxophone, harmonica
  • Joel Peskin - alto & tenor saxophone
  • Harvey Fuqua - backing vocals on "Sexual Healing", editing, mixing, production advisor
  • David Stout And The L.A. Horn Section - horns
  • McKinley T. Jackson - horn arrangement
  • Larkin Arnold - executive producer
  • Mike Butcher - engineer, mixing
  • Brian Gardner, Alan Zentz - mastering
  • John Kovarek - engineer
  • Henri Van Durme - engineer

Chart history


Year Chart Position
1982 Pop Albums 7
1982 Black Albums 1
(with bonus tracks)
The Billboard 200 103
(with bonus tracks)
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 52


Year Title Chart Position
1982 "Sexual Healing" Adult Contemporary 34
1982 "Sexual Healing" Black Singles 1
1982 "Sexual Healing" Club Play Singles 12
1983 "'Til Tomorrow" Black Singles 78
1983 "Joy" Black Singles 31
1983 "Sexual Healing" Pop Singles 3


  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Robert Christgau review
  3. ^ Rolling Stone review
  4. ^ RS Album Guide review
  5. ^ What's Going On: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye

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