“Star time, ladies and gentlemen!” shouts the emcee as Marvin Gaye takes the stage.  Star time, no doubt.  Listening to this stand-alone CD from a 1976 performance that was released previously in 2007 on DVD only, the glittering drama, grandeur, and seduction of Gaye’s concert appearance are all there, building in intensity throughout.  With a full orchestra executing spot-on arrangements of two-dozen classics from Gaye’s catalog- many tied into medleys of hit singles that segue seamlessly- this is as cool, smooth, and lavish as R&B in 1976 gets.

The show was recorded in the middle of the legendary singer’s first European tour; taken from the Edenhalle Concert Hall date in Amsterdam, it serves as a full summation of Gaye’s evolution from Motown hit machine to thoughtful album craftsman.  He drops “Let’s Get It On” early in the set, butted up against “Ain’t That Peculiar” as a telling example of the show itself, weaving the ranging repertoire together; the orchestra nailing every swinging change.

A trio of cuts from Gaye’s seminal What’s Going On album highlight the second-half of the hour-long show before a charging run of more chart-toppers- “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” “Heaven Must Have Sent You,” “It Takes Two,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”  If slightly truncated versions, still enough to tantalize.

Gaye saves a full reading of “Distant Lover” for his finale.  It’s a longer breath or two contrasting the breathless run of songs that skirt almost too quickly through Gaye’s career.  These are as the title suggests- the greatest hits- and this is a Marvin Gaye performance the emcee promises.  Star time.