Trouble Man (album)

Last updated
Trouble Man
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedDecember 8, 1972
Studio Hitsville West (Los Angeles)
Genre Jazz-funk [1]
Label Tamla
Producer Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye chronology
What's Going On
Trouble Man
Let's Get It On
Singles from Trouble Man
  1. "Trouble Man"
    Released: November 21, 1972

Trouble Man is a soundtrack and the twelfth studio album by American soul singer Marvin Gaye, released on December 8, 1972, on Motown-subsidiary label Tamla Records. As the soundtrack to the 1972 Blaxploitation film of the same name, the Trouble Man soundtrack was a more contemporary move for Gaye, following his politically charged album What's Going On . This was the first album to be written and produced solely by Gaye. The only other album recorded under his full creative control was In Our Lifetime , released in 1981.



Following the success of What's Going On , Marvin Gaye had not only won creative control, but a renewed $1 million contract with Motown Records subsidiary Tamla had made the musician the most profitable R&B artist of all time.

Signing the contract in early 1972, Gaye sought to take advantage of his opportunities. Bolstered by the successes of film soundtracks such as Shaft and Superfly , Motown offered the musician a chance to compose his own film soundtrack after winning rights to produce the crime thriller, Trouble Man .

Unlike Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield, who mixed social commentary with sexual songs in their respective soundtracks, Gaye chose to focus primarily on the film's character, "Mister T", producing and composing both the film's score while entirely producing the film's soundtrack, which was recorded at Motown Studios (or "Hitsville West") in Hollywood.

Following the closing of Detroit's Hitsville USA studios in 1972, Motown had primarily moved its location to Los Angeles, where Gaye also relocated while he recorded the Trouble Man album. Gaye invited several musicians, including some from the Funk Brothers and musicians from Hamilton Bohannon's band.

Gaye would compose five different versions of the title track, including an alternate vocal version, which was used primarily for the film's intro. The alternate version featured Gaye double-tracking two lead vocal parts into one, overlaying his falsetto vocals with his tenor. The single version, which was also featured on the soundtrack, would feature a single lead vocal take. The other three versions were put on the album as instrumentals with Gaye providing synthesizer keyboards while saxophone solos (and occasionally guitar) accompany him.

The only other songs in which Gaye vocalized harmonies or performed lead vocals included "Poor Abbey Walsh", "Cleo's Apartment", "Life is a Gamble", "Don't Mess with Mister T" and "There Goes Mister T".

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [2]
Christgau's Record Guide C [3]
Rolling Stone (mixed) [4]
Tom Hull B [5]

Bolstered by the hit success of the title track, which returned Gaye to a blues format reaching number 4 on the Soul Chart and number 7 on the Pop Charts, respectively, the album followed in December where it reached the top 20 of the Billboard 200, peaking at number 12. On Cashbox and Record World Magazines Charts the album even reached the Top 5, hitting almost as high as its monumental predecessor What‘s Going On, eighteen months earlier.

It would become Gaye's only soundtrack and film score. Critics gave the album favorable reviews while sometimes comparing Gaye's soundtrack efforts to that of Hayes' and Mayfield's. Following this, other R&B musicians would produce soundtracks of their own, including James Brown, Barry White and fellow Motown acts, Willie Hutch and Edwin Starr.

Track listing

All songs written by Marvin Gaye.

Original LP

Side One

  1. "Main Theme from Trouble Man (2)" – 2:30
  2. "'T' Plays It Cool" – 4:27
  3. "Poor Abbey Walsh" – 4:13
  4. "The Break In (Police Shoot Big)" – 1:57
  5. "Cleo's Apartment" – 2:10
  6. "Trouble Man" – 3:49
  7. "Theme from Trouble Man" – 2:01

Side Two

  1. "'T' Stands for Trouble" – 4:48
  2. "Main Theme from Trouble Man (1)" – 3:52
  3. "Life Is a Gamble" – 2:32
  4. "Deep-in-It" – 1:25
  5. "Don't Mess with Mister 'T'" – 3:04
  6. "There Goes Mister 'T'" – 1:37

2012 Reissue

Disc one (bonus tracks)

  1. Main Theme From Trouble Man (2) (Alternate Take With Strings)
  2. "T" Plays It Cool (Unedited)
  3. Poor Abbey Walsh, Part 2 (Take 1)
  4. Poor Abbey Walsh, Part 2 (Take 2)
  5. Trouble Man (Extended Version)
  6. Theme From Trouble Man (Vocal Version)
  7. "T" Stands For Trouble (Unedited Vocal Version)
  8. "T" Stands For Trouble (Alternate Version)
  9. Main Theme From Trouble Man (Vocal Version)

Disc two (Original Film Score)

  1. Trouble Man
  2. Poor Hall
  3. "T" Plays It Cool
  4. Cadillac Interlude / Cleo's Apartment
  5. Man Tied Up / Jimmy's West / Conversation With Cleo
  6. Crap Game (A.K.A. The Break In) / Getting Rid Of Body / Talking To Angel
  7. Outside Police Station
  8. Bowling Alley / Parking Lot
  9. Stick Up
  10. Cleaners / Cleo
  11. Closing Jimmy's
  12. Police Break In
  13. "T" Cleans Up / Police Station
  14. Packing Up / Jimmy Gets Worked / Saying Goodbye / "T" Breaks In / Movie Theater
  15. Car Ride / Looking For Pete
  16. Parking Garage / Elevator
  17. Penthouse
  18. Getting Pete
  19. My Name Is "T" / End Credits
  20. "T" At The Cross (film band bonus)




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  1. Gorton, TJ (July 30, 2018). "BeatCaffeine's 100 Best Jazz-Funk Songs". BeatCaffeine. Archived from the original on August 25, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  3. Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: G". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies . Ticknor & Fields. ISBN   089919026X . Retrieved February 24, 2019 via
  4. 3/01/73
  5. Hull, Tom (November 2013). "Recycled Goods (#114)". A Consumer Guide to the Trailing Edge. Tom Hull. Retrieved June 20, 2020.