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December 30th, 2010 By mbreen | Music | Posted In: Music News

Marvin Gaye/Pink Floyd Collaboration?


If someone told you that two of the biggest musical icons of the 20th century had collaborated on an album that was never released and has never been mentioned in the big history book of popular music, what would you think? Sketchy, right? What if you read the same thing on the Internet? Needless to say, the skepticism increases manifold. So is the case with some recent murmurings on the Web about a “long lost” collaboration between Marvin Gaye and Pink Floyd.

Here’s the story that first appeared a few weeks ago and has led to some (mostly doubting) conversation online. An alleged intern from a label in England called Harvest Heritage Records started a blog to talk about his experience at the label, a sub-imprint under the Harvest Records umbrella, which had signings in the ’70s like Deep Purple, ELO, Kevin Ayers and, yes, Pink Floyd (and later Wire, Duran Duran and Iron Maiden). The blogger (Joseph Stein) writes that a few months ago he was going through storage and came across a rare collaborative album by Gaye and Pink Floyd. Stein writes that Gaye and the band met in London and the Soul singer joined Floyd onstage at Earl’s Court, performing a “mash-up” featuring “Let’s Get it On” sung over “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” The artists reconvened later to record more songs in the same vein and planned to put the results out as an album.

But Gaye and his label, Motown, were butting heads at the time and the legendary Detroit label refused to give clearance for the use of Gaye’s songs. Some records (complete with album art) were allegedly pressed, but the music never saw the light of day.

With the passion for detail of collectors and flat-out music fanatics, it seems unlikely something like this could ever have happened without someone spilling at least a bean somewhere along the line. And now with the Internet, one would think there would at least be some sort of mention about the in-concert collaboration. (I suppose the band members and key figures could have kept this quiet for mystery’s sake, but a concertgoer, a lackey in the label’s shipping department or someone from the pressing plant would seem to have no vested interest in keeping it a secret.) Still, the concept of the collaboration isn't unfathomable — both entities were creative and exploratory (and fairly nutty) artists.

Some other Web sites (like this one) have mentioned the news and response has been skeptical. But the Web has enhanced our culture’s skepticism and cynicism about everything and also created a breeding ground for people who love to talk about things they don’t know anything about, so I approach the dismissal with the same grain of salt I approach the initial story.

Yesterday, the former intern’s site posted a YouTube link to a snippet of one of the tracks purported to be from the project (the original “Let’s Get It On”/”Crazy Diamond” blending), promising more music over the next few weeks. Not that it’s “proof,” but the audio sounds, if not unquestionably authentic, at least like it could be.

It’s either the No. 1 greatest story of Rock and Soul music never told or a clever backstory to introduce a pretty sweet mash-up project by a pretty gifted masher. Regardless of the validity, it should be a great listen. Visit the blog here (and listen to the first leak below) to check everything out for yourself. What say you? Hoax or a miraculous archival discover?

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