What's Going On

( 8 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
What's Going On is not only Marvin Gaye's masterpiece, it's the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices, a man finally free to speak his mind and so move from R&B sex symbol to true recording artist. With What's Going On, Gaye meditated on what had happened to the American dream of the past -- as it related to urban decay, environmental woes, military turbulence, police brutality, unemployment, and poverty. These feelings had been bubbling up between 1967 and 1970, during which he felt increasingly caged by Motown's behind-the-times hit machine and restrained from expressing himself seriously through his music....
See more details below
Vinyl LP (Reissue)
$18.99
BN.com price
(Save 5%)$19.99 List Price
Other sellers (Vinyl LP)
  • All (3) from $18.47   
  • New (3) from $18.47   

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
What's Going On is not only Marvin Gaye's masterpiece, it's the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music, delivered by one of its finest voices, a man finally free to speak his mind and so move from R&B sex symbol to true recording artist. With What's Going On, Gaye meditated on what had happened to the American dream of the past -- as it related to urban decay, environmental woes, military turbulence, police brutality, unemployment, and poverty. These feelings had been bubbling up between 1967 and 1970, during which he felt increasingly caged by Motown's behind-the-times hit machine and restrained from expressing himself seriously through his music. Finally, late in 1970, Gaye decided to record a song that the Four Tops' Obie Benson had brought him, "What's Going On." When Berry Gordy decided not to issue the single, deeming it uncommercial, Gaye refused to record any more material until he relented. Confirmed by its tremendous commercial success in January 1971, he recorded the rest of the album over ten days in March, and Motown released it in late May. Besides cementing Marvin Gaye as one of the most important artists in pop music, What's Going On was far and away the best full-length to issue from the singles-dominated Motown factory, and arguably the best soul album of all time. Conceived as a statement from the viewpoint of a Vietnam veteran Gaye's brother Frankie had returned from a three-year hitch in 1967, What's Going On isn't just the question of a baffled soldier returning home to a strange place, but a promise that listeners would be informed by what they heard that missing question mark in the title certainly wasn't a typo. Instead of releasing listeners from their troubles, as so many of his singles had in the past, Gaye used the album to reflect on the climate of the early '70s, rife with civil unrest, drug abuse, abandoned children, and the spectre of riots in the near past. Alternately depressed and hopeful, angry and jubilant, Gaye saved the most sublime, deeply inspired performances of his career for "Mercy Mercy Me The Ecology," "Inner City Blues Make Me Wanna Holler," and "Save the Children." The songs and performances, however, furnished only half of a revolution; little could've been accomplished with the Motown sound of previous Marvin Gaye hits like "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" and "Hitch Hike" or even "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." What's Going On, as he conceived and produced it, was like no other record heard before it: languid, dark, and jazzy, a series of relaxed grooves with a heavy bottom, filled by thick basslines along with bongos, conga, and other percussion. Fortunately, this aesthetic fit in perfectly with the style of longtime Motown session men like bassist James Jamerson and guitarist Joe Messina. When the Funk Brothers were, for once, allowed the opportunity to work in relaxed, open proceedings, they produced the best work of their careers and indeed, they recognized its importance before any of the Motown executives. Bob Babbitt's playing on "Inner City Blues Make Me Wanna Holler" functions as the low-end foundation but also its melodic hook, while an improvisatory jam by Eli Fountain on alto sax furnished the album's opening flourish. Much credit goes to Gaye himself for seizing on these often tossed-off lines as precious; indeed, he spent more time down in the Snakepit than he did in the control room. Just as he'd hoped it would be, What's Going On was Marvin Gaye's masterwork, the most perfect expression of an artist's hope, anger, and concern ever recorded.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/9/2008
  • Label: Motown
  • UPC: 731453002210
  • Catalog Number: 530022
  • Sales rank: 8,383

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 What's Going On - Marvin Gaye & Al Benson (3:52)
  2. 2 What's Happening Brother - Marvin Gaye & Marvin Gaye (2:44)
  3. 3 Flyin' High (In the Friendly Sky) - Marvin Gaye & Marvin Gaye (3:49)
  4. 4 Save the Children - George Benson & Marvin Gaye (4:03)
  5. 5 God Is Love - Marvin Gaye & Marvin Gaye (1:41)
  6. 6 Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) - Marvin Gaye & Marvin Gaye (3:13)
  7. 7 Right On - Earl DeRouen & Marvin Gaye (7:31)
  8. 8 Wholy Holy - Al Cleveland & Marvin Gaye (3:08)
  9. 9 Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) - Marvin Gaye & Marvin Gaye (5:26)
  10. 10 What's Going On - (rhythm & strings mix)
Read More Show Less

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Marvin Gaye Primary Artist, Piano, Drums, Keyboards, Vocals
Bob Babbitt Bass
Eli Fountain Alto Saxophone
James Jamerson Bass
Joe Messina Guitar
David Van De Pitte Conductor
Earl Van Dyke Guitar
Wild Bill Moore Tenor Saxophone
Chet Forest Drums
Robert White Guitar
Technical Credits
Marvin Gaye Composer, Producer, Liner Notes
Earl DeRouen Composer
David Van De Pitte Arranger, Orchestral Arrangements
John Matousek Mastering
Curtis McNair Art Direction
Rob LoVerde Mastering
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What the fuss is really all about

    You know, you think you're familiar with something and then it turns out you're completely wrong. I was confident I knew what this album was all about as I'm sure, somewhere over the years, I've heard it. But I've never owned a copy and I'm familiar with a few tunes on the work. But to sit down and listen to it--really listen to it--just blew me away.

    I'm sure this was a pretty earth-shattering piece of work in its time and it holds up amazingly well today. In some ways it's sad that it holds up all too well given the inspiration for this work from Gaye's brother who had served in Vietnam and who was taken aback by a world that hadn't really changed when he returned home. Marvin Gaye's expression of the sadness, frustration and fear of that time is certainly one that doesn't sound out of place in my listening today.

    I love the heavy vinyl this album is pressed on. It's nice quality work and it sounds amazing on even my admittedly mid-fi system. I think hearing it on vinyl is the way to go as it makes sense as the suite that Gaye intended for it to be and that pause--catching your breath--as you turn the record over is part of the overall experience I think he was shooting for.

    A must have.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    THERE ARE NO WORD TO DESCRIBE !!

    THERE ARE NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE THIS ALBUM.... I OWN OVER 300+ ALBUM OF ALL KIND FROM ROCK,SOUL,POP,RAP,R&B....FROM PINK FLOYD TO 2-PAC. I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT THIS IS THE GREATIST ABULM OF ALL TIMES!!!! WITH NOT MANY ALBUMS COMING EVEN A LITTLE CLOSE. MARVIN GAYE HAD TO HAVE BEEN HOLDING ALL THIS EMOTION AND THESE SONGS JUST BIULDING UP INSIDE OF HIM DURING THE PERIOD HE WAS MAKING ALL THOSE "HAPPY HITS" AT MOTOWN. AND TO THINK MOTOWN WASNT EVENN GONNA REALEASE THIS ALBUM...IM JUST GLAD THEY DID. THIS ALBUM TO ME IS THE GREATEST ALBUM OF ALL TIMES OF ALL KINDS OF MUSIC!!! IF ANYONE AGREES WITH ME PLS EMAIL ME TY WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR OPINION

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    What's Going On

    Being a big fan of 'rock band' music from the 60's and 70's, I have always limited my buying (and listening) of that era's recordings to that specific type - mainly, white rock band music from UK/USA artists. Thus, it was with a little reservation that I purchased Marvin Gaye's landmark soul/R&B album from 1971, 'What's Going On'. I have always enjoyed his music, but never felt that it was worth my hard-earned dollars to 'take a chance' on buying it. What a fool I was. This album is an achievement. With every song (linked together with a common rhythmic thread), the listener is given a picture of life in the USA from a black man's point of view (something that other black artists, such as Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield, among others, attempted later). The style of the music and the way it was produced were, at the time, groundbreaking for all that were used to the traditional Motown sound. The three hit singles from the album - 'What's Going On','Mercy, Mercy, Me', and 'Inner City Blues' - are worth the price of admission alone, but there are other gems ('What's Happening Brother', 'Flyin' High', and 'Right On' are also first rate). What really comes across is the sincerity of the artist. Highly Recommended!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    What's Going On

    Being a big fan of 'rock band' music from the 60's and 70's, I have always limited my buying (and listening) of that era's recordings to that specific type - mainly, white rock band music from UK/USA artists. Thus, it was with a little reservation that I purchased Marvin Gaye's landmark soul/R&B album from 1971, 'What's Going On'. I have always enjoyed his music, but never felt that it was worth my hard-earned dollars to 'take a chance' on buying it. I'm glad I did. This album is an achievement. With every song (linked together with a common rhythmic thread), the listener is given a picture of life in the USA from an African-American man's point of view (something that other then-contemporary artists, such as Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield, among others, attempted later). The style of the music and the way it was produced were, at the time, groundbreaking for all that were used to the traditional Motown sound. The three hit singles from the album - 'What's Going On','Mercy, Mercy, Me', and 'Inner City Blues' - are worth the price of the CD alone, but there are other gems ('What's Happening Brother', 'Flyin' High', and 'Right On' are also first rate). What really comes across is the sincerity of the artist. Highly Recommended!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A timeless, masterwork.

    With "What's Going On", Marvin Gaye created quite possibly one of the most life-affirming, emotionally relevent works of art in the past half-century. An astonishing testimony on the the human condition which is every bit as accurate today as it was over 30 years ago.Its importance as a work of art transcends all mediums. To simply call it a great recording would be woefully shortsighted. My review may sound presumptuous, but, before you become skeptical, put on the CD, close your eyes, open your mind, and LISTEN.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    R & B isn't for smooching anymore.

    This is the Soul/R&B world's Sgt.Pepper.Marvin Gaye got it right long before Curtis Mayfield wrote of the ghetto experience or Stevie Wonder wrote about the key of life. Broken down, this song has two singles, What's Going On and Inner City Blues, and two orchestral suites, Right On w/ Wholy Holy, and possibly the best suite ever, Tracks 2-6. It dealt with every problem going down at that particular moment in time, from urban breakdown, Vietnam, enviromental issues, babies having babies, and religious disinterest. Any black or white could identify with what Gaye was agonizing over. The really beauty is how many artists it influenced to take greater pride and care in what they were saying. If you are studying Soul/R&B, and specifically Motown Records, moving from decadent, innocent pop fluff to a legitimate form of musicianship that had to be reckoned with, start with this album, and possibly get a box of Kleenex if your life has been affected by the above subjects.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    inner city realism

    what's going on is a classic because it reminds you that you are still living in it's lyrical world. the songs will never be outdated.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    absolutely amazing

    You will like this album no matter what kind of music you are into. My friend couldn't have put it better: ''If you don't like this album, there is something wrong with you.''

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews