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What's Going On

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Editors’ Notes

Marvin Gaye's 1971 masterwork continues to wrack up lifetime achievement awards from critics and listeners alike. It remains one of the most accomplished and satisfying albums of the 20th century. Gaye broke free from the Motown formula, by stubbornly refusing to record any more music until Motown's founder, Berry Gordy, agreed to release the title track as a single. The ensuing album's socio-politico-ecological concerns are given an adventurous soundtrack that breaks down the barriers between rock, R&B and soul music until a new form emerges. Songs such as "What's Going On," "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" have become part of the fabric of modern music, so wholly accepted are their achievements. The entire album plays as a single piece, with a sound so beautifully orchestrated that songs like "Flyin' High (In The Friendly Sky)," "Save The Children" and "God Is Love" flow like water from an eternal spring. No serious music collection should be without it.

Customer Reviews

A must have album

This album is so much more than a collection of songs. This album is a time and a place. I can't speak highly enough of this music; beautiful, truly beautiful.

So Much In So Little

April 1, 2014 will mark thirty years since Marvin Gaye was killed. When he died a brand of music died. The brand of music that left with Marvin Gaye was uncompromising and it was truthful. “What’s Going On” is not a long album, but I’ll be damned if its not heavy. Marvin Gaye, Motown’s prince and poet, touches your heart with this album because he showed us his heart. This album is a must have. Every track serves as social commentary on the condition of humanity. RIP Marvin Gaye. You are greatly missed.




Born: April 2, 1939 in Washington D.C.

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

One of the most gifted, visionary, and enduring talents ever launched into orbit by the Motown hit machine, Marvin Gaye blazed the trail for the continued evolution of popular black music. Moving from lean, powerful R&B to stylish, sophisticated soul to finally arrive at an intensely political and personal form of artistic self-expression, his work not only redefined soul music as a creative force but also expanded its impact as an agent for social change. Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. (in the style of...
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