Marvin Gaye – Whats Goin On [1971]
July 25, 2011


Its 40 years ago this week that “Whats Goin On” was released and as many will attest, the message contained within it is as relevant today as it was upon its release. One of my all time favourite albums, despite the message, reminding me of childhood and hanging out with my father. Take a moment this week to give it a listen, you’ll be so glad you did.

What’s Going On
What’s Happening Brother
Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)
Save The Children
God Is Love
Mercy Mercy (The Ecology)

Right On
Wholy Holy
Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

From Wikipedia
What’s Going On is the eleventh studio album by soul musician Marvin Gaye, released May 21, 1971, on the Motown-subsidiary label Tamla Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in June 1970 and March–May 1971 at Hitsville U.S.A., Golden World and United Sound Studios in Detroit, Michigan and at The Sound Factory in West Hollywood, California.

The first Marvin Gaye album credited as produced solely 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, since the album ends on a reprise to 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. Featuring introspective lyrics about drug abuse, poverty and the Vietnam War, the album was also the first to reflect the beginning of a new socially conscious trend in soul music. 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 where the singer was given the key to the city.

In worldwide critics’, artists’ and public surveys, it has been voted one of the landmark recordings in pop music history and is considered to be one of the greatest albums ever made. In 2003, the album was ranked number 6 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Marvin Gaye – Whats Goin’ On (Whats Happening Brother) [1971]
December 24, 2010

Simply incredible. One of the greatest double tracks of all time, live, from one of the best vocalists ever. Stick it on, close your eyes and purge, real soul music here.

Merry Christmas!

From Discogs
This is such a beautiful album with a worthwile message for humankind. Marvin’s voice is just so heavinly, and along with Stevie Wonder, one of the few voices out there in the world of music, that makes the ears go all spritual in harmony. The message is still relevent today, as it was and before the album came out. The concept of Peace, Unity and Hapiness is expressed here through the lyrics, and also the musicianship of the Funk Brothers.

THE FIRST great political and socially conscious album that really threw down the gauntlet. Never before had an album tackled issues of poverty, race, war, inner city deprivation and hatred in one unifying and incredibly moving statement. ‘What’s Going On’ took Soul music to new unparalleled heights which future artists tried to aspire to. Stevie Wonder has always cited ‘What’s Going On’ as his favourite album of all time and the one in which has inspired him the most. And to think that Motown at the time viewed the album as an abject failure and a huge let down!!!

This is without a doubt the greatest Soul and R&B album in music history, a must-have masterpiece that should be in every record collection. Yes “Sgt. Pepper” was influential, but “What’s Going On” was a different kind of influence. Not to open your mind to drugs, and new experiences, but to open your mind to love and peace. Sly & The Family Stone might have psychedelicized soul music, but Marvin Gaye personalized it, and he literally poured out every emotion onto this record.

Although the powers-that-were Motown didn’t even want to release the record, the unexpected success of What’s Going On, issued in 1971, inspired Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, and just about every other black artist on the planet to take greater responsibility for their music and its meaning. Gaye co-wrote the songs and produced the album, flavoring it with layer upon layer of his own multi-tracked vocals, oceans of hand percussion, strings, flutes, and jazzy horn solos. Spacey and loose as a spliff-fueled Sunday afternoon jam in the park, the nine songs all played like a hit single. There are no pauses between the track, the rhythm section just keeps going & flowing and the whole record pushes forward as a real soultrain, weaving songs seamlessy each into another.

The Dramatics – Get Up And Get Down [1971]
November 16, 2010

The first track on the absolutely incredible first album Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get from The Dramatics is this stormer. Pure slice of heavy Detroit flavoured funk. Big breaks, massive basslines and a twangy lead guitar may well be a staple of the genre but hardly ever carried with as much panache as this offering. Often imitated, almost never bettered, Get Up & Get Down is a seminal piece of Soul Funk. Buy the album. Its amazing.

From Discogs
R & B vocal group formed in Detroit in 1964 as the Sensations. Changed their name to the Dramatics in 1965 and still performing.

Consisted of (at various stages): Ron Banks, Larry Reed (lead singer), LJ Reynolds (lead singer), Rob Davis, Elbert Wilkins, William “Weegee Howard” Howard(lead singer), Willie Ford , Robert Ellington, Larry Demps, Leonard Cornell Mayes, Winzell Kelly.

S.O.U.L – Express Yourself [1971]
August 25, 2010

Last one from “What is it!” from S.O.U.L. Probably the best known cover of this classic originally from Charles Wright Watts and 103rd Street Band. Heavier on the Funk than the original but retains all the soul of the original.

Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Express Yourself [1971]

S.O.U.L – Burning Spear [1971]
August 25, 2010

An epic bassline and flute combo that sealed S.O.U.L’s entry into history. Taken from their first album, “What Is It”, S.O.U.L managed to combine some of the rawest funk of the day with some major soul giving a warm, all encompassing sound that I is hard to beat. If you have a thirst for funk, buy this album. Its amazing.

From Discogs
Wow.. this album is one heavy slab of crystal clear funk.
This band are probably most famed for the fantastic bass and flute workout that is ‘burning spear’.
Another song on here which is work of genius is ‘Soul’, this was sampled to great affect by
the Jungle Brothers for ‘In Dayz 2 Come’ on the Done By The Forces Of Nature album.
All polished off with silky vocals courtesy of Lee Lovett, this album is an absolute must have from some funk heroes from the early 1970’s.