Sunday, September 9, 2007

What's Going On?

"When would the war stop? That's what I wanted to know...the war inside my soul."
That was the question that inspired Marvin Gaye to create his most deeply realized record, What's Going On?. This 1971 album went against the grain at Motown, which had become mired by this time in its hit-factory mentality of the '60s. Berry Gordy even fought with Gaye over releasing the album. Fortunately the artist prevailed over the businessman, and Gaye's masterpiece reached the masses, generating a stellar response and record sales (three songs went all the way to number one). What's Going On? magically combines Gaye's deeply arresting vocals and socially conscious lyrics with the perfectly flowing sound of his fellow musicians, making the album the single greatest statement of musical genius to ever come out of Motown. Gaye uses the medium of music to preach, exploring with soulful eloquence the social ills of the day--drug addiction, environmental devastation, police brutality, taxes--themes that still resonate today. Despite his often bleak observations of the times, Marvin's overall message offers the promise of redemption. The overriding message of What's Going On? is ultimately one of hope: we can save ourselves ONLY if we can learn to "holler love, love, love across the nation/together and holy/we can claim love our salvation." Filled with the utmost of sincerity, Marvin sings almost as if divinely inspired, rising to new heights, free of any cliché R&B phrasings.

This Shhhhh Edit makes use of the outtakes for a mellow string intro and neat loops to bring out the groove, making the eventual appearance of Marvin's heart-rending chorus all the more soul-affirming...

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