Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Going On’

Pitchfork verraste me vandaag met een berichtje the best new reissue is What’s Going On van Marvin Gaye en dat kan ik alleen maar beamen. Dat deze relesase reeds 40 jaar oud is en nog niets van zijn oorspronkelijke kracht verloren heeft is opmerkelijk.

‘Marvin Gaye submitted a version of the most important single of his career, “What’s Going On”, to Motown Records in the summer of 1970. Over the previous seven years, the relationship between the singer and his label was contentious yet fruitful; gritty uptempo songs like “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” and “Hitch Hike” were hits, but they undermined Gaye’s dream to be a balladeer in the mold of Nat King Cole. Those lusty trifles also roused the internal conflict between the artist’s gospel upbringing and his endless desire for carnal pleasure. And while Gaye aspired to be more than just a singer within Motown’s assembly-line chug, his boss, brother-in-law, and fellow hard-headed egoist Berry Gordy Jr. wasn’t so crazy about the idea. So when Gordy heard that original “What’s Going On” mix– which is included in this box set for the first time– he rejected the song, reportedly calling it “the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” Instead of releasing “What’s Going On” that fall, Motown put out the Gaye compilation Super Hits, which depicts its clean-shaven star as a cartoon superhero flying through the air and fixing a radio tower as a buxom damsel perilously hangs from his shoulder. But Gaye wanted nothing more than to blow up that gleaming image of himself– now in his early 30s, he would accept nothing but complete control over his art. And if Motown wasn’t going to release his first self-produced song, he wasn’t going to make music for Motown. Gaye sat idle for months until his label, desperate to put out something– anything– from its biggest solo star, finally eeked the single out under Gordy’s nose on January 21, 1971. It was an instant success, hitting No. 2 on the pop charts and, perhaps more importantly for Gaye, giving him a win in his constant battle with Gordy, who couldn’t deny a smash. Five months later, Marvin Gaye released his full-grown symphony to God, What’s Going On, with little resistance.’ pitchfork


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