What's Going On
MARVIN GAYE

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MARVIN GAYE - What's Going On cover
5.00 | 1 rating | 1 review
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Album · 1971

Filed under Jazz Related RnB

Tracklist

A1 What's Going On 3:51
A2 What's Happening Brother 2:57
A3 Flyin' High (In The Friendly Sky) 3:40
A4 Save The Children 3:04
A5 God Is Love 2:31
A6 Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) 3:05
B1 Right On 7:20
B2 Wholy Holy 3:20
B3 Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) 5:16

Line-up/Musicians

Alto Saxophone – Angelo Carlisi
Backing Vocals – Elgie Stover, Lem Barney, Mel Farr, Bobby Rodgers , The Andantes
Baritone Saxophone – Tate Houston
Bass – Bob Babbit , James Jamerson
Bass [String Bass] – Max Janowsky
Bongos – Earl DeRouen, Eddie Brown
Celesta [Celeste] – Johnny Griffith
Cello – Edward Korkigian, Italo Babini, Thaddeus Markiewicz
Conductor, Arranged By – David Van DePitte
Congas – Earl DeRouen, Eddie Brown*
Drums – Chet Forest
Flute – Dayna Hartwick, William Perich
Guitar – Joe Messina, Robert White
Harp – Carole Crosby
Percussion – Jack Ashford
Piano – Marvin Gaye
Soloist, Alto Saxophone – Eli Fountain
Soloist, Tenor Saxophone – William "Wild Bill" Moore
Soprano Saxophone – Larry Nozero
Tambourine – Jack Ashford
Tenor Saxophone – George Benson
Trombone – Carl Raetz
Trumpet – John Trudell , Maurice Davis
Vibraphone [Vibes] – Jack Brokensha
Viola – David Ireland , Edouard Kesner, Meyer Shapiro, Nathan Gordon
Violin – Alvin Score, Beatriz Budinszky , Felix Resnick, Gordon Staples, James Waring, Lillian Downs, Richard Margitza, Virginia Halfmann, Zinovi Bistritzky

About this release

Tamla ‎– TS-310 (US)

Thanks to snobb for the addition and js for the updates

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What's Going On [Vinyl]What's Going On [Vinyl]
Motown Records 2008
Vinyl$18.88
$18.88 (used)
What's Going On (Rarities Edition)What's Going On (Rarities Edition)
Special Edition
Motown Records 2010
Audio CD$9.30
$11.96 (used)
What's Going On [10What's Going On [10"]
EP
Motown 2016
Vinyl$8.50
$11.41 (used)
What's Going onWhat's Going on
Import
Imports 2017
Audio CD$19.99
Heard It Through The Grapevine/Whats Going OnHeard It Through The Grapevine/Whats Going On
Import
Phantasm Imports 2010
Audio CD$14.68
$21.68 (used)
What's Going on [Deluxe Edition] By Marvin Gaye (0001-01-01)What's Going on [Deluxe Edition] By Marvin Gaye (0001-01-01)
Motown
Audio CD$38.79
$23.98 (used)
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Motown Records (2002-01-01)
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Import · Limited Edition · Super Audio CD - DSD
Imports 2014
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45vinylrecord What's Going On/God Is Love (745vinylrecord What's Going On/God Is Love (7"/45 rpm)
TAMLA
Vinyl$4.39 (used)
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MARVIN GAYE WHAT'S GOING ON reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

js
Although the term ‘Progressive RnB’ never really caught on the same way as ‘Progressive Rock’ did, what happened in the world of RnB in the early 70s was quite similar to what was happening in the rock and pop world at the same time. Influences from jazz, modern classical and psychedelia all converged on many RnB artists to push their creations to new heights. In the late 60s, albums by The Temptations such as “Puzzle People” and “Cloud Nine” began to open the door to further experimentation, meanwhile George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic machine was making some noise in the underground, as well as WAR, Mandrill and others, but the album that really made it possible for RnB artists to search and explore in a commercially successful way was Marvin Gaye’s “Whats Going On”.

This album almost didn’t happen at all. Gaye was a hit machine for Berry Gordy’s very lucrative Motown label with songs like “That’s the Way Love is” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, making sure his boss was one of the richest producers in the world of music. When Gordy first heard Gaye’s proposed single release of title tune, “Whats Going On”, he refused to release it, saying it was not commercial enough. Marvin countered with his own protest, refusing to record anymore songs unless Gordy allowed his ambitious project to continue. Barry finally relented, and in a rush of pent up energy, Gaye finished his album long masterpiece and released it to much critical acclaim and commercial success. In fact, to this day, many of the signature songs on this album are still played on the radio and elsewhere.

Compared to Gaye’s upbeat music that preceded this album, “Whats Going On” is dark and moody, there are no ‘love songs’, just songs about civil unrest, endless war in Vietnam, concern for the ecology and concern for the future of the children in a fast changing world. The entire album comes across like a suite, with one song segueing into another without a noticeable break. There is a strong jazz sensibility at work here, especially in the creative bass lines of Bob Babbit and James Jamerson, as well as the saxophone work of Eli Fountain. Familiar pop/blues chord progressions are uplifted with spiraling strings and wordless vocals, it sounds like Marvin wants to push his message up into the heavens in an appeal to God himself, who is also referenced frequently in the albums plaintive lyrics.

This album would definitely open some doors, Stevie Wonder soon followed with his own “Talking Book”, and later Earth Wind and Fire would take the world of RnB to all new heights. A classic album that still sounds modern and relevant today, “Whats Going On” was the peak of Gaye’s career, as well as a peak for the world of RnB and pop music in general.

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