Gaye and Terrell released their first album for Motown, United, in 1967.
It features the original recorded version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, a track by legendary husband-and-wife songwriting team, Ashford and Simpson.
Valerie Simpson said that she recorded vocals on the track for guidance, and Terrell would sing over these parts on the days she felt well enough.
Whatever the real story, Easy is another fantastic album, and one which strays away from the love duet template somewhat and into social commentary, a direction which Gaye fully threw himself into with his mega-hit record, What’s Going On.
Love Woke Me Up This Morning acts as both a summary and farewell to Gaye and Terrell’s relationship, sung looking back on past events, the pair sound in deep reflection as they sing, “Because of you happiness is mine / All my cloudy days are far behind.” This Poor Heart Of Mine is a punch to the gut; Terrell sound both scared and defiant as she roars, “I don’t think how long I’m gonna last / So come back, baby – I’m sinking fast”.
Probably because of the times, there’s very little sexual element to their songs, just talk of love, partnership and adoration.
Terrell suffered from severe migraines from the age of twelve, and there has been speculation that these were linked to the cancer that ultimately killed her.
She entered the music industry at a young age, and had had an ill-fated two year relationship with James Brown before she was out of her teens.
It was one of these state-of-the-world tracks, The Onion Song, that gave Gaye and Terrell their biggest UK hit, peaking at number 9 in December 1969.
However, given subsequent events, it’s the consecutive tracks, Love Woke Me Up This Morning and This Poor Heart Of Mine, that have the biggest emotional impact.