RELEASED IN MAY, 1971, MARVIN GAYE‘S ‘WHAT’S GOING ON‘ was the 11th album he recorded for the Tamla label. It was also his very first LP he was credited in having solely produced — in its entirety. The album’s origin centered when Gaye began work on the single, “What’s Going On” (Pop #2; R&B #1), (released in January 1971; album titled as same) in June, 1970. Three other tracks from the LP would be released as singles. “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) (Pop#4; R&B #1),” “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler) (Pop #9; R&B #1),” and “Save The Children (UK only; #41).” The album would become Gaye’s biggest of his career at the time, until 1973. It was also Gaye’s first album having cracked Top 10 (#6) in the Billboard Top LP chart, and, having charted there for almost a year. The British music publication New Musical Express ranked the LP #1 in their ‘All-Times Top 100 Albums’ in 1985. According to Wikipedia, “Gaye was the first male solo artist to place three top ten singles on the Hot 100 off one album, as well as the first artist to place three singles at number-one on any Billboard chart (in this case, R&B), off one single album.” In a 1999 poll conducted by The Guardian, it named the LP the “Greatest Album of the 20th Century”.
MARVIN GAYE April 1971 (photo credit: Jim Hendin)