Vulnerable (Marvin Gaye album)

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Studio album by Marvin Gaye
Released April 22, 1997
Recorded 1968; New York (original music), 1977-78; 1997 (reworked) at Marvin Gaye's Studios (Hollywood, California)
Genre Traditional pop, soul jazz, R&B
Length 28:30
Label Motown
Producer Marvin Gaye, Bobby Scott, Amy Herot
Marvin Gaye chronology
Romantically Yours
(1985)Romantically Yours1985

Vulnerable is the third posthumous album by Marvin Gaye. Recorded in sessions throughout 1977, the album was a decade in the making, first being worked on in 1968 during sessions in New York with Bobby Scott. Reworked by Gaye a decade later, the album was originally going to be released in 1979 under the title, The Ballads, but was shelved. Two decades later, Motown released it under the title Vulnerable, including seven songs from the sessions and three alternate cuts.



In 1968, Marvin Gaye went to New York to record a series of ballads with arranger Bobby Scott, as Gaye continued his attempts to become a successful pop crooner. Sessions ended abruptly, however, when Gaye felt the recordings were too poor for his liking. Disappointed, he stopped pursuing a career as a crooner, while recording pop hits for Motown. In 1977, two years after buying his own studio, and shortly after reworking the live album, Live at the London Palladium, Gaye began to return to finishing up work on his shelved ballads project.

Inspired by his tempestuous relationships with his wives Anna Gordy and Janis Hunter, Gaye added more of a personal depth in the songs he recorded for the album.


Recording sessions for the album started in 1977 at Marvin's recording studio. Some of the songs were constantly reworked by Gaye until he was satisfied with what he had recorded. "Why Did I Choose You" was recorded twice, as was "I Wish I Didn't Love You So", "I Won't Cry Anymore" and "The Shadow of Your Smile". Other songs Gaye recorded were songs of his own compositions including "Stranger in My Life", "Walkin' in the Rain" and "Just Like".

Eventually satisfied with the music, he titled it The Ballads and had it ready for a 1979 release with Motown. However, due to the fall out over his album, Here, My Dear, Gaye shelved the project indefinitely despite telling author David Ritz that he felt the album was "the best stuff I ever did". It would stay on the shelf for nearly a decade.

Romantically Yours and the release of Vulnerable[edit]

In 1985, Columbia released the third and last Marvin Gaye album featured on their contract with Gaye. Columbia's parent label, CBS worked together with Motown to issue 'lost' recordings. Releasing Romantically Yours, the album featured the 1968 version of "Why Did I Choose You" and two alternate 1977 recorded versions of "I Won't Cry Anymore" and "The Shadow of Your Smile" among others.

In April 1997, Motown finally issued the long-awaited 1970s sessions from The Ballads, renaming the project as Vulnerable. This featured a front cover of Gaye in a picture culled from the photo sessions of What's Going On and had the background animated to black with just his face showing. Three alternate versions of "Why Did I Choose You", "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" and "I Won't Cry Anymore" were featured on the album in which Marvin introduced vocal ad-libs, especially on "I Wish I Didn't Love You So". Gaye improvised his own lyrics for the alternate version of "I Won't Cry Anymore".

Professional ratings
Review scores
Rolling Stone3/5 stars link
Allmusic2.5/5 stars link

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Why Did I Choose You?" (Michael Leonard, Herbert Martin) - 2:38
  2. "She Needs Me" (Jody Emerson, Earl Montgomery) - 3:26
  3. "Funny (Not Much)" (Scott Edward, Larry Holofcener) - 2:44
  4. "This Will Make You Laugh" (Irene Higginbotham) - 2:53
  5. "The Shadow of Your Smile" (Johnny Mandel, Paul Francis Webster) - 3:08
  6. "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" (Frank Loesser) - 2:35
  7. "I Won't Cry Anymore" (Al Frisch, Fred Wise) - 3:00
  8. "Why Did I Choose You?" (Alternate vocal) (Michael Leonard, Herbert Martin) - 2:37
  9. "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" (Alternate vocal) (Frank Loesser) - 2:36
  10. "I Won't Cry Anymore" (Alternate vocal) (Al Frisch, Fred Wise) - 2:53


  • Ramon Aninag - project assistant
  • Candace Bond - executive producer
  • Koji Egawa - assistant engineer
  • Carol Friedman - art direction, photography, still pictures
  • Marvin Gaye - vocals, producer, vocal producer
  • David Harley - art direction
  • John Hendrickson - engineer
  • Amy Herot - producer
  • Gavin Lurssen - mastering
  • David Moss - tape archivist, librarian
  • David Ritz - liner notes, essay
  • Bob Schaper - editing, editing engineer
  • Bill Schnee - mixing
  • Bobby Scott - arranger, producer, orchestral arrangements, orchestra production
  • Dana Smart - production co-ordination, project co-ordinator
  • Art Stewart - producer
  • Georgia Ward - tape archivist