Marvin Gaye
What's Going On


5.0
classic

Review

by ParanoidAndroid96 USER (7 Reviews)
January 28th, 2015 | 20 replies


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Right on, Marvin.

The year is 1971. At this time in Marvin Gaye’s career, he is better known as a pop singer than the sensual soul singer most view him as today. With singles like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and his famous duet with Tammi Terrell “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Marvin was one of the figureheads of Detroit’s Motown Records. Motown had a fruitful decade during the 60’s releasing many successful singles while collaborating with artists such as the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and Stevie Wonder. The early 70’s saw Marvin, and many other members of the Motown camp, mature as artists and make their own niches in the music world. What’s Going On was a turning point in Marvin’s career and is arguably the best soul and R&B album ever recorded.

What’s Going On opens with the lead single and title track “What’s Going On.” The song enters with a smooth saxophone riff and jangly guitar playing in the background. When Marvin’s beautiful tenor voice comes into the mix, his lyrical content depicts the discontent of the citizens in the United States at the time. This is a change of pace for his songwriting because most of the songs he recorded during the 60’s were love songs. The lyrics on second song off the album, “What’s Happening Brother,” touch upon more issues associated with the United States like the escalating war in Vietnam and racial inequality. What’s Going On can be considered a concept album because the themes of social awareness are so strong throughout the duration of the album. On “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” Marvin sings about the harm mankind is inflicting on the Earth and his message comes across strong with his passionate vocals. On first listen, his sincerity on some of the songs might seem comical. For instance, on “Save the Children” Marvin belts out “Save the babies!” at one moment in the song and is one of the more cliché moments on the album, but his conviction in all of the songs on What’s Going On cannot be argued.

In addition to the great lyrics on What’s Going On, the music being played on the album is exceptional. The singing from Marvin is excellent, as to be expected, and the harmonies that show up frequently throughout the album are absolutely stunning. The harmonies are one of the best qualities of What’s Going On because they help the music reach an almost transcendental level, like on “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).” The band behind Marvin is fantastic laying down solid rhythms and grooves. The seventh track, “Right On,” showcases the band at their best with fiery jazz flute, robust piano playing, and subtle warm bass. The production on What’s Going On creates a smoky atmosphere for most of the album and really draws attention to Marvin’s vocals and harmonies.

Everything on What’s Going On is so well executed which makes this album simply extraordinary. This album sends a strong message while backed with remarkable music. What’s Going On is a complete experience and showed the world that Marvin is an artist, not just a pop singer. After the release of this album, Marvin’s career entered a new phase. Two years after What’s Going On, he came out with Let’s Get It On and made him into a bonafide love singer. What’s Going On is not only an incredible album, but served as a transition phase for Marvin Gaye’s career. This album has just about everything you could look for in a musical experience from this genre.



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user ratings (658)
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
beachdude (5)
A transcendent testimony to the resilience of the human spirit....


Comments:Add a Comment 
ParanoidAndroid96
January 28th 2015


1392 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I saw that there was no 5 review for this and I felt sort of offended so I hope I did it justice. Any edits or suggestions would be much appreciated homies

ParanoidAndroid96
January 28th 2015


1392 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this is one of my favorite albums ever btw

iamamanfromspace
January 28th 2015


1030 Comments


My friend told me to listen to this a long time ago and I never did

ParanoidAndroid96
January 28th 2015


1392 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

aw that's a shame. well it's never too late

SharkTooth
January 28th 2015


14139 Comments


title reminds me of that He-Man video

iamamanfromspace
January 28th 2015


1030 Comments


yeah i mean i'll totally listen to this some day

AnimalsAsSummit
January 28th 2015


4616 Comments


nice review. dig the album too, harrrrd pos bruthaaaa

Digging: Walrus - Hikari no Kakera

ParanoidAndroid96
January 28th 2015


1392 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks dude!

KILL
January 28th 2015


81233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

smooth

trackbytrackreviews
January 28th 2015


3418 Comments


I remember this being like 4 on Rolling Stone greatest albums of all time

MO
January 28th 2015


22824 Comments


fucking so good

manosg
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2015


11819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album.

Digging: Zed Yago - From Over Yonder

undertakerpt
January 28th 2015


1612 Comments


Good review, I remember reading butler's review of this back in 05, but it didn't make me want to listen to it. But yours does. Can't fault the title track so I'm gonna indulge.

Titan
January 28th 2015


20167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

awesome album



nice write up, pos'd

ParanoidAndroid96
January 28th 2015


1392 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@undertakerpt thanks! I hope you like it dude

Underflow
January 29th 2015


4867 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The review this deserves. Good job, mate.

ParanoidAndroid96
January 29th 2015


1392 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks for the love homie

PappyMason
February 7th 2015


5702 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I saw this review before but I didn't have time to check it out.



Nice write-up, man. It's good that this album got a good review - Butler's is a bit embarrassing. Great album!

HalfManHalfAmazing
February 10th 2015


1974 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thank fuck someone wrote a review with the rating this deserves

LOVEANDACCEPTANCE
May 23rd 2019


897 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

marvin really must've been high as a fuckin kite writin this shit lol



save the children is borderline hilarious, god bless the man



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