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What's Going On (Deluxe Edition)

Marvin Gaye

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Album Review

If it's easy to be a little cynical about Universal/Motown's 2001 Deluxe Edition reissue of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, it's only because Motown endlessly reissued the album during the CD era, trumpeting each as the definitive issue (rather ironic for an album Berry Gordy didn't even want to release at the time). Still, Universal's Deluxe Edition series is proving to be a phenomenal collectors-oriented line, filled with lavish, detailed packaging and unpredictable turns, and What's Going On is no exception to the rule. To begin with, the remastering of the original album is excellent, the best yet, although that still isn't enough to make this worth buying for the hardcore fans who have purchased the album again and again over the years. That's what the other disc and a half of bonus material is for. First, there's the "original Detroit mix" of the album prepared while Gaye was out of town, filming a movie. A little bolder and sparer than the released record, with the strings noticeably relegated to the background, it's interesting, not revelatory, though its stripped-back feel is refreshing after hearing the album countless times. A rhythm-and-strings mix of "What's Going On" is tacked onto the end of the first disc, before the second disc begins with a new, previously unreleased live album that finds Gaye running through the album (minus "Mercy Mercy Me [The Ecology]") and performing a medley of '60s hits. It was his first performance in four years, and while unnecessary, it is fascinating and certainly worth the time of hardcore fans, as are the original single versions of "What's Going On," "God Is Love," and "Sad Tomorrows," plus the previously unreleased "Head Title" (aka "Distant Lover"). This is certainly a package for fans, but it's also the ideal fan package — beautifully made and filled with rarities that are necessary for fans, making them feel fine about buying this record again. Especially since this is so well done, it's hard to imagine Universal/Motown bettering it.

Customer Reviews

Pure Genius

Marvin Gaye was one of the greatest musical minds that ever lived. When Marvin Gaye created this album it was like he was man amongst children, actually to more precise a GOD amongst his child like peers. The fact that Mowtown did not want anything to do with this work clearly proves this point. He was so way ahead of his time, a true artist in every sense of the word. This material and his message, it so classic, that even today it has so much relevance. You can not listen to this album and not be moved. Possibly the greatest complete album ever recorded.

The Motown Sound grows up

I first bought and listened to this album when it was released in 1971. I liked the title song, but I just didn't *get* the rest of the album. I was only 14 though. I was into dancing, and this was definitely not a dance album (although now I do find myself moving to it). I was into the Jackson 5, Diana, Stevie, and the new Supremes. Motown was in a transitional period, and this album, I believe, represents the best of the "new" Motown Sound. It took me 25 years until I really sat down and listened to this album, and at the ripe old age of 39 - I got it. And I'm glad I finally did. Marvin co-wrote and sang songs that are timeless. Other reviewers have written it may possibly be the greatest album of all time; if its not, its certainly in the Top 5. The topics Marvin covered are as relevant today, even more so in some cases than they were in 1971. Life was tough, it seemed the world was going mad, young Americans were dying from war in far away parts of the world, and Marvin very eloquently put it all on display. But life had hope - listen to the joy in his voice singing "God Is Love"! A lot of people shook their heads when this album came out, what was Marvin Gaye doing singing about the environment (Mercy Mercy Me)? They say that Berry Gordy, founder and owner of Motown Records didn't really like the album. To his credit, he went ahead and authorized its release. I've read that he now credits it as Marvin's greatest work. To all the naysayers of 1971, myself included, I hope they finally "got it". If you're going to spend your money on music today, spend it on this album. Get yourself alone, and listen to Marvin sing about the joy and pain of life.

The most meaningful album ever created...

...and definitely the best version ever released. What can I say? This is the Pinnacle of Soul Music. Hell maybe even music in general. It's one of those rare albums that you just HAVE to listen to the whole thing every time you put it on; as if the entire album is one seamless, beautiful song. Oh, and this version is awesome. The detroit mix is cool to listen to just 'cause it's different and the live disc is one of Gaye's best shows ever recorded. To put it simply, YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS PURCHASE! Even if it's your last 30 bucks.


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...
Full Bio

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