Marvin, Stevie & Jimi

Sure What Goes On was on Stevie’s mind during Inner Visions, what with all the social commentary and the like, but look at the differences in the musicality: the casual introduction of moog lines, freshly conceived in Talking Book I believe; but also in the way the music recorded: intimate and clean, funky and immediate, as opposed to WGO’s wide open strings and sublime atmospherics and even more sublime bass grooves, with the drums way down in the back of the mix: which on top of the gospel layerings draw a listener to ask Is the rhythm in Marvin’s voice or in the sheer spirituality of the music? (-— the Gospel Artifice). WGO is a unified social album— concerned and affected: all its notions of love are a communal outreach, a love of people. IV views the world through a lover’s eyes, through a single aware soul (conscious, reincarnate), moving toward a personal higher ground. Marvin’s album statement is a group dynamic. In the two and occasionally three backing vocal overdubs that Marvin layers behind his own lead, there is the same love and relation as between Marvin and the bass of James Jamerson, between the motive and soul of his lyrics and the flying idea of the strings. It’s a unification of word intent and cadence: the biblical primality of the gospel choir, the sharing of suffering and bearing your brother; everyone’s going to make it this time. But between these two albums...

As in Hendrix, the electric organic: to return from the absolute frontier of feedback and noise or pure energy, return again to melody and rhythm, mimics the primality of becoming: something from nothing, art from an inchoate chaos. A precise pinpoint of what I mean: from about 6:40 on track six of the Woodstock performance there is a conditional space/noise leading to a return of figure at exactly 7:29 — that is wonder, that is the spirituality of music. I really don’t think there has been as radical a musician since. His layering of the riff, now in one register, then another, is a very jazz trick: yer not playing chords composed of notes, but doubled chords of melody/riffs, Coltrane.

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