Review Summary: I've been sanctified.
What, this cheesy thing" The best album ever made about sex" Nonsense. It's just one long groove with stream-of-consciousness lyrics and some nice vocals from Marvin, and it doesn't even barely reach the sophisticated heights of What's Goin On.
Until it does.
It all came together for me when I was sitting in the local cinema I work at, talking to a girl about everything and anything - the world, troubles, worries, and the conversation ultimately moved to sex. There was a certain freedom attached to it because we knew we probably wouldn't be seeing each other again, and if we were to, we'd already taken a liking to each other. So we talked about this thing called sex in a way that was bordering on the truly intimate, that was much like what Marvin Gaye is doing in this album. We invited each other into hypothetical caresses and failures, into bedrooms we'd had an would have, into bodies we'd never occupy yet could love and pleasure.
There's no one moment when everything about Let's Get It On started making sense all at once. Instead, it was a gradual realisation that Marvin taking his time and putting his effort into this album just as strongly and passionately as he did What's Going On is in itself an artistic statement. Yes, civil unrest, protest, critique of the government and the police force is important. But you know what else is just as important"
It's all here. The wave of a hand, the sweet caress, the moment after climax frozen into a 4-minute vignette called "If I Should Die Tonight", the rhythms and thrusts and screams of passion, the kisses after and before. It's all heightened to a near-religious level, as if Marvin is worshiping at the altar of love and inviting us along into his sacred chamber, where we can share in the experience and feel God's grace descend upon us. Sex in this album is like an extension of "God Is Love" from What's Going On, something utterly divine that can only be given and never be taken.
The title track's words, promising "I ain't gonna worry, I ain't gonna push", are strikingly relevant in a time when the larger public is just coming to understand how important talking about consent is in the bedroom. Marvin's already doing it here, and there's an understanding here that no sex can be good if both parties aren't fully into it. Yet that doesn't stop him from pleading, from begging for love like a lonely man might, and the yells of "Please, please, please" towards the end of Distant Lover show a human falling apart before the face of delayed pleasure.
Sex, on this album at least, it's everything. It's not about the kind of rough sex coated in two layers of kinks and another of toys, though you could definitely connect some of the sentiments of trust, love and understanding to a context of BDSM, especially the importance of consent and loving aftercare. But the sex this album fits the most is the one when you just stop in the middle of it and tell each other how much you love one another. It's the sex where someone cuddles up to you afterwards, when you're both still basking in the afterglow, because it does glow, because it is light, and you feel a naked body, so intimate, breathing against yours, also free of all inhibition in the face of love. Let's Get It On is about talking all night and then, only then, making bodies one. The spirit of the album is revealed in those nights when you talk to a partner, be they new or old, and discover something new about them - a new memory they've shared with you, an extremely funny or unfunny joke they tell now that they know you and your humor, the sensation of their hands touching a spot on your back or thigh or face that nobody has ever quite touched that way before.
It's sanctified. In the church of pleasure and love, Marvin is both priest, disciple and repenting sinner begging for grace, all with a smile, all at once. The emotional state of someone deeply in love with making love is laid bare just as much as the disillusioned war veteran's in What's Going On, only that this album might be even more intimate. The beautiful music contained within only serves one purpose - to make you horny and to remove all shame and all anxiety ever associated with the act of liking someone so much, or even exploring your own body to such a degree that everything just bursts apart and is rebuild again in an instant of gratification.
For Marvin, at least on this album, sex is everything. It's an own infinity situated squarely between a sheet and a mattress, connecting two human universes through the act of lovemaking. After all, "there's nothing wrong with me loving you/and giving yourself to me could never be wrong." It might be the greatest album ever produced about the kind of love that's so caught up in its own throes it ends up being a deity continually giving birth to itself, never-ending and gorgeous.