As part of a Universal Earbook series that was launched in 2006, Marvin Gaye's 1995 box set The Master 1961-1984 was reissued in a new format. It still contained the four CDs and 89 tracks of the original set, but was this time packaged within a nearly LP-sized hardback coffee table book. As for the music, the average fan is better off with Anthology
, which covers almost all of Marvin Gaye's true classics. But for those who want the hits and then some, and have the budget and interest to go further, this four-CD box set is an excellent retrospective of his career. The 89 tracks include all the chart hits (both on his own and with Mary Wells
, Kim Weston
, Tammi Terrell
, and Diana Ross
) and many interesting B-sides, album tracks, and misses. There are also over a dozen cuts that were previously unreleased until they appeared on the first edition of this set, most dating from the early part of his career; they don't rank among his best work, but they're almost all good and interesting. With a long essay by his biographer, David Ritz
, this is the best overview of Gaye's evolution and versatility. The 110-page book does include far more photos than text, though the format will please those who like their illustrations in a much bigger size than is possible on standard CD box sets.