An Album A Day #19: Marvin Gaye's WHAT'S GOING ON [1971]

Many trees have been sacrificed in praise of today's album: Marvin Gaye's testifying and sanctifying What's Going On.    It is ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time on just about every such list that has ever been published.  HERC is unsure how he came to know the album (maybe HERC SR. had the 8-track) but he knows he cannot live without it.  Well that's not exactly true but like all great art and beauty, What's Going On definitely makes life worth living.  

More than 40 years after it's original recording and release, What's Going On remains relevant, vibrant and, above all, enjoyable.  It's an easily accessible album, perfect for parties or intense critical listening, that reveals more of itself upon each successive listen, both lyrically and musically.  The release of a Deluxe Edition of the album in 2001 features the original "Detroit mix" of the album compiled on April 5, 1971 (below).  The album as released was mixed a month later in Los Angeles.

Three singles, all R&B chart-toppers that went Top 10 on the Pop charts, were released from the album; which itself went to #1 on the R&B Albums chart but only made it to #6 on the Top 200, in the US:

  • "What's Going On" b/w "God Is Love"
  • "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" b/w "Sad Tomorrows" (the b-side was a reworking of the album track "Flyin' High (In The Friendly Sky)"
  • "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" b/w "Wholy Holy"

(An additional single "Save The Children" was released in several European countries with various older songs as b-sides.) The 40th Anniversary Edition of What's Going On was released in 2011, including several mono single mixes.  Mono-heads can listen to both sides of those three singles in the following playlist:

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