Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

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Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

Recorded: Detroit, Michigan and West Hollywood, California 1970 & 1971

 

Released: Motown Records, 1971

 

A record doesn't have to be obscure to make the cut here, just really good. This one is really, really, really good. What's Going On is absolute perfection from first note to final note. It is often cited as the best Soul LP of all time... that's a bold statement, but if any album could back it up, this might just be the one. The concept itself was somewhat of a revelation - the entire album tells a story from the viewpoint of a soldier returning from Vietnam (Marvin's brother had returned a few years prior) to the topsy-turvy world of America in the late 1960s/early 1970s. It was a time filled with strife, political malfeasance, social unrest, environmental upheaval... heck, throw in a pandemic and it sounds like today, right? Throughout all of that stressful tale, some of the most beautiful music of all time was recorded. I mean, Marvin's voice alone is magical, but the context of these songs brings it to a higher level. I've also always included this LP among my absolute favorite Autumn albums - beautiful and melancholy. 

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