On this day in music history: December 5, 1966…

On this day in music history: December 5, 1966 – “It Takes Two” by Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston is released. Written by William “Mickey” Stevenson and Sylvia Moy, it is the twenty second single for Gaye and the tenth single release for Weston. By late 1965, Marvin Gaye is riding a wave of hits including the back to back R&B chart topping million sellers “I’ll Be Doggone” and “Ain’t That Peculiar, co-penned and produced by Smokey Robinson. With Robinson being busy with his own group The Miracles, as well as writing for other artists, Marvin is handed off to another producer. At Motown since 1959, Mickey Stevenson is given the assignment to produce a project for the singer. Stevenson already has a significant history with Gaye, having co-written the hits "Pride And Joy”, “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow” and “Dancing In The Street” with him. Having recorded an album of duets with Mary Wells in 1964, Stevenson suggests another duets album, but this time with his then wife and fellow Motown artist Kim Weston. It isn’t the first time they’ve have sung together, recording “What Good Am I Without You” (#28 R&B, #61 Pop) in 1964. Weston scores her biggest solo hit in 1965 with “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)” (#4 R&B, #50 Pop). For the duet album, Stevenson pairs up with songwriter and producer Sylvia Moy. Having made her breakthrough co-writing Stevie Wonder’s smash “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, Moy works on some original material for it. Among the songs they write include “It Takes Two”. Mickey Stevenson co-produces “It Takes Two” with Stevie Wonder’s then producer Henry “Hank” Cosby. It is recorded at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit on November 27, 1965 with The Funk Brothers playing on the track. The strings provided by The Detroit Symphony are recorded on December 6, 1965 and finally Marvin and Kim overdub their vocals on March 2, 1966. With the rest of the album titled “Take Two” completed, it released in late August of 1966. Initially, no single is released, during which time Mickey Stevenson leaves Motown when he is offered a lucrative staff producer position with MGM Records, also taking his wife Kim with him. Motown finally decides to release “It Takes Two” in early December, and it takes off. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #88 on January 7, 1967, and #50 on the R&B singles chart on January 21, 1967, it rises up both charts simultaneously. The single peaks at #14 on the Hot 100 on March 4, 1967 and #4 on the R&B chart on March 18, 1967. It also becomes Gaye’s first Top 20 hit in the UK, peaking at #16. A Motown evergreen, “It Takes Two” is covered numerous times over the years, with versions by Otis Redding & Carla Thomas, Donny & Marie Osmond, and by Rod Stewart & Tina Turner. Marvin Gaye includes a cover version in a medley with Florence Lyles on the album “Live At The London Palladium” in 1977, and Kim Weston re-records the song with Marvin’s brother Frankie in 1989.