This classic track has been receiving quite a bit of attention lately, due to the controversial lawsuit by Robin Thicke against the Marvin Gaye-estate. As you may know, Thicke is preemptively suing the Gaye-estate because relatives of Gaye have suggested that Thicke’s summer smash hit, “Blurred Lines”, incorporates elements of “Got To Give it Up”. Now, apparently, the Gaye-family is also counter suing Thicke. However you might feel about that whole situation, we figured it was a good excuse to take a look at the original track and how it has influenced other artists in less controversial ways over the years.
Besides being one of Gaye’s biggest hit records, the song has also been quite influential. It was written by Gaye and produced by Art Stewart and released in March of 1977. This was at quite a late point in Gaye’s career, as he had been putting out records as a solo artist since the early sixties . In 1977 he was a soul superstar, with many hit records under his belt as well as having released one of the most important soul albums of all time “Whats Going On” from 1971.
In the mid seventies, however, the music industry was rapidly entering the age of disco and many soul and funk acts who had been successful in the late sixties/early seventies were having big trouble adjusting to this new musical climate. Many were unable to adjust and their careers floundered because of it.
Marvin himself wasn’t very fond of disco as he thought it lacked substance. However, Motown, Marvin’s record label for many years, were anxious to cash in on the new dance rhythms popularized by disco and wanted him to put out something similar. Though initially unwilling, he finally agreed and the resulting track was “Got To Give It Up”.
And it’s a good thing he did, as it turned out to be one of the all time classics of the era. Upon it’s release, it immediately shot up several US charts and also did very well in the UK. It became his biggest hit in several years and helped him weather the disco storm.
Though it has since attained status as a disco classic, technically speaking it isn’t actually disco, but more of a funk track with jazz-funk elements. The solid groove and Marvin’s smooth falsetto did, however, make it extremely dance floor friendly and gave the dance hungry disco crowd something to get down to. Since then many others have done the same.
Over the years quite a few artists have been inspired by the track and have responded to it in different ways. Check out the list below for some examples.
The Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)
The song was an inspiration for Michael Jackson, who at the time was trying to write a hit for his family group The Jacksons. Along with his brother Randy, Michael later wrote “Shake Your Body (Down to Ground)”, whose title and hook were inspired by the chant in Marvin’s song, “let’s dance, let’s shout, get funky what it’s all about”. The brothers altered the phrase slightly and applied it to one of the group’s best ever dance tracks.
Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
In 1979 Michael released, “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough”, the first single from his classic album “Off The Wall”. According to some the song was also influenced by “Got To Give It Up. True or not, there are certain similarities, namely the falsetto vocals and the funky approach to disco. Both songs have of course gone on to become massive classics in their own right.
Pharoah Sanders – Got To Give It Up
Jazz saxophonist, Pharoah Sanders, covered the song in 1977 on his album “Love Will Find A Way”. He kept it funky.
Aaliyah – Got To Give It Up ft Slick Rick
R&B princess of the 1990s, Aaliyah, covered “Got To Give It Up” on her album “One in a Million” in 1996. This version actually samples Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and features Slick Rick the Ruler. Aaliyah’s version doesn’t stray too far from the original, but it’s a decent update of the song. It didn’t fare too well commercially though failing to chart in the US and finding only minor success in the UK.
Mayer Hawthorne – Henny and Ginger Ale
Like “Blurred Lines”, Mayer Hawthorne’s funky party jam also incorporated elements of “Got To Give it Up”. It was one of the best songs from his “How Do You Do” album from 2011.
Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up (James Sison Remix)
Earlier this year British house producer, James Sison, lifted Marvin’s vocals out of their funky surroundings gently placing them onto a bed of deep house. The result was a wonderful, atmospheric track.