Marvin Gaye can be considered one if the greatest songwriters ever. His eleventh album was a marque to change.
It is the first Marvin Gaye album credited as being produced by the artist himself. What’s Going On is a unified concept album consisting of nine songs, most of which lead into the next. It has also been categorized as a song cycle; the album ends on a reprise of the album’s opening theme.
The album is told from the point of view of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for, and seeing nothing but injustice, suffering and hatred.
What’s Going On was the first album on which Motown Records’ main studio band, the group of session musicians known as the Funk Brothers, received an official credit. The album features introspective lyrics and socially conscious themes of drug abuse, poverty, and the Vietnam War. What’s Going On was both an immediate commercial and critical success and has endured as a classic of early-1970s soul.
A deluxe edition set of the album was released on February 27, 2001, and featured a rare live concert shot at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center from May 1972.
On June 1, 1970, Gaye entered Motown’s Hitsville USA studios to record “What’s Going On”. Immediately after learning about the song, many of Motown’s musicians, known as The Funk Brothers noted that there was a different approach with Gaye’s record than there had been with other Motown recordings, and Gaye complicated matters by only bringing in a few of the members while bringing his own recruits, including drummer Chet Forest. Longtime Funk Brothers members Jack Ashford, James Jamerson and Eddie Brown participated in the recording.
Here is Marvin Singing “What’s Going On?”
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