Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On?”

Today’s Cool Album of The Day (#168 in the Series) is Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On?

I have been neglect in my lack of Rhythm and Blues on our listings. I’m changing that today with what is arguably the best Rhythm and Blues album of all time.

We usually stay away from blockbuster albums as well.  This album is just so good that sometimes gotta do what you gotta do!

In fact, looking at the numbers, this album wasn’t a blockbuster.  It peaked at #6 on the Billboard Album Charts.  However, it did spend nine weeks at #1 on the R+B Charts.

I see it on tons of lists of best albums of all time.  In fact it’s ranked #6 on the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums of All Time list.

It featured some of the greatest songs of a generation. That list starts with the title track, What’s Going On.  Other highlights included my favorite, Inner City Blues (Makes me Wanna Haller), Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky) and Save the Children.

A few notes about this album. The two guys street talking at the beginning of the title cut were Mel Farr and Lem Barney of the Detroit Lions.  Marvin always had an ambition to play for the Lions.

What’s Going on was also the first album that the well-known Motown studio rhythm section, The Funk Brothers actually received credits.

Much of this album was told from the viewpoint of a retuning Vietnam War veteran.   It’s can be called one of the first concept albums.

It’s a shame that Marvin isn’t with us. Lost to violence.  He was a great artist that also had something to say.

Here’s a few videos of the studio versions of the songs plus a live two-fer.

Track listings

All songs produced by Marvin Gaye.

Original LP

  1. “What’s Going On” (Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye, Renaldo “Obie” Benson) – 3:53
  2. “What’s Happening Brother” (James Nyx, M. Gaye) – 2:43
  3. “Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky)” (M. Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye, Elgie Stover) – 3:49
  4. “Save the Children” (Cleveland, M. Gaye, Benson) – 4:03
  5. “God Is Love” (M. Gaye, A. Gaye, Stover, Nyx) – 1:41
  6. “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” (M. Gaye) – 3:16
  7. “Right On” (Earl DeRouen, M. Gaye) – 7:31
  8. “Wholy Holy” (Benson, Cleveland, M. Gaye) – 3:08
  9. “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” (M. Gaye, Nyx) – 5:26


Posted by Larry Carta

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