What's Going On

What's Going On

by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band


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What's Going On

A frustrating year after Hurricane Katrina devastated their hometown (and much of the Gulf Coast), New Orleans's Dirty Dozen Brass are not in the mood for a party. Or at least not for the kind of high-spirited revelry that gives the Big Easy its name. Every note and image accompanying What's Going On speaks instead of rage, simmering like storm clouds over a dark sea. Underlining the shock, loss, dismay, and bitterness are the band's guest vocalists: a pair of hip-hop's elder statesmen, Chuck D. and G.U.R.U., plus the chitlin' circuit's queen of disaster, Bettye LaVette. And then, of course, there is the album's provocative concept itself, for What's Going On is a song-by-song remake of Marvin Gaye's chilling masterwork. That album, which assailed institutional racism, environmental degradation, the disaster of Vietnam, and America's imperial hubris, dawned 35 years ago, and to see it like the Dozen do, not a damn thing's changed. With a martial funk backbeat and sour harmonies, the band turn Gaye's title track into an accusation, lurching and growling, with an expletive-deleted bit of N.O. mayor C. Ray Nagin and Chuck D. broadcasting the news loud and clear: "What's going on / If this is going on?" Bettye LaVette implores, "What's Happening Brother?" and it, too, is full of subtext: two neighbors who know nothing about one another, blissfully ignorant, until Katrina's winds blew the lid off New Orleans's (and America's) simmering stew of racism and inequality. The band temper the outrage with a few celebrations: the second-line release of "Flyin' High (In the Friendly Sky)," Ivan Neville's churchy take on "God Is Love," and G.U.R.U.'s relentlessly positive rhymes on "Inner City Blues" -- each one ending with "still…it makes me wanna holler." But it's the anger that stays with you, and it's a call to arms. Few reimaginings of classic works succeed at this level, engaging mind, body, and soul. It's testimony to the expansiveness of Gaye's original, the ambition and skill of the Dirty Dozen, and sadly, the damning disposition of history to repeat itself, again and again, until humankind learns from its mistakes.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/29/2006
Label: Shout Factory
UPC: 0826663101782
catalogNumber: 10178
Rank: 57832

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Dirty Dozen Brass Band   Primary Artist
Revert Andrews   Trombone,Group Member
Kirk Joseph   Sousaphone,Group Member
Roger Lewis   Baritone Saxophone,Group Member
Anthony Marinelli   Keyboards
Leon Mobley   Percussion
Efrem Towns   Trumpet,Flugelhorn,Group Member
Ben Peeler   Guitar
Doug Bossi   Guitar
Gregory Michael Davis   Trumpet,Group Member
Terence Higgins   Drums,Group Member
Jamie McLean   Guitar,Group Member

Technical Credits

Ivan Neville   Arranger
Anthony Marinelli   Arranger,Producer
NYX   Composer
Oscar Monsalve   Engineer,Vocal Engineer
Shawn Amos   Producer
Emily Johnson   Artwork
Jeff Palo   Producer
Clint Bennett   Engineer
Carmen Borgia   Engineer

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