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Off the Record

Peace on Earth: Rare Marvin Gaye Xmas Song Still 100% Relevant

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Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 11:50 AM
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Motown/Universal is commemorating the 2009 holidays with the double CD The Ultimate Motown Christmas Collection. UK's Mojo magazine has a very nice review of the album today.

Thanks to the magic of digital downloads, you don't have to run to Sam Goody's or Tower (remember those days!) trying to find a hard copy of exactly what you wanna play while Uncle Ron gets loaded and tries to hug everyone muttering things about the recession, how next year has to be better, and the actual birthplace of Obama. And, as Mojo points out, "if you don't want Boyz II Men featuring Brian McKnight doing "Let It Snow" (on CD2), you can simply uncheck the box and instead download the bits you know will be great," such as "The Jackson 5's rightly celebrated 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' - showcasing the natural speed of Michael's beat-perfect lead vocal," Stevie Wonder's 1967 'Someday At Christmas,' David Ruffin "rapping at march-tempo to usher in The Temptations' atmospheric 'Little Drummer Boy'," and the Funk Brothers' instrumental "Winter Wonderland." (There are also 16 slightly cheesy spoken-word "Christmas Messages" from Motown stars to radio listeners that you're likely to skip after a couple of plays.)

The most interesting--and still 100% relevant--track on the record, however, is not a Motownized take on a holiday classic. In 1972, during the sessions that yielded his remarkable soundtrack for Trouble Man (his first Los Angeles album), a top-of-his-game Marvin Gaye recorded a single called "I Want To Come Home for Christmas," in which a soldier laments being unable to share a family holiday because he's a POW in Vietnam. "I can't promise my eyes the sight," he sings, "unless they stop the fight, cause I'm a prisoner of war."

The single was given the catalog number Tamla 54229, with an instrumental B-Side called "Christmas in the City," but then the soundtrack's hit title track had just been released and the Christmas single was deleted.

Here's "I Want to Come Home for Christmas," dedicated to everyone caught in wars they asked to be no part of.

Both sides of Marvin Gaye's deleted Christmas single, after the jump.

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