What’s Going On

~ Release group by Marvin Gaye


What’s Going On12" Vinyl9
  • US1971-05-20
What's Going On (Quadraphonic)Vinyl9
Tamla Motown (for non-US releases only)CD4W-7092
What’s Going OnCD9
Motown (Motown Records)MOTD-5339050109533923
What’s Going OnCD9
Motown (Motown Records)3746353392737463533928
What’s Going On (pink/blue CD)CD9
Motown (Motown Records)530 022-2731453002227
What’s Going On (black/gold CD)CD9
Motown (Motown Records)530 022-2731453002227
What’s Going OnCD9
  • US1994-06-07
Motown (Motown Records)31453-0022-2731453002227
What’s Going OnCD9
Motown (Motown Records), BMG (the former Bertelsmann Music Group, defunct since 2004-08-05; for releases dated 2008 and later, use “BMG Rights Management”)31453-0022-2, D104913
What’s Going OnCD9
  • US1998-04-07
Motown (Motown Records)530 883-2731453088320
What’s Going OnCD9
  • JP1998-08-05
Polydor (Japanese domestic releases only!)POCT-19544988005219176
What’s Going On (remastered)CD9
Motown (Motown Records)530 883-2731453088320
What’s Going OnCD9
Motown (Motown Records)314530883-2731453088320
What’s Going On (deluxe edition)2×CD19 + 16
  • US2001-02-27
Motown (Motown Records)440 013 404-2044001340420
What’s Going OnCD11
Tamla Motown (for non-US releases only)0640222044006402222
What’s Going On (deluxe edition)2×CD19 + 16
Motown (Motown Records), Tamla Motown (for non-US releases only)013 404-2044001340420
What’s Going OnCD11
Motown (Motown Records)064 022-2044006402222
What’s Going OnCD11
  • US2003-01-14
Motown (Motown Records)440 064 022-2044006402222
What's Going OnDigital Media11
Universal Music AB (Swedish subsidiary of Universal Music Group)[none]
What’s Going On12" Vinyl9
  • US2008-02-01
Mobile Fidelity Sound LabMFSL 1-314821797131414
What’s Going OnHybrid SACD (CD layer) + Hybrid SACD (SACD layer, 2 channels)9 + 9
  • US2008-12-30
Mobile Fidelity Sound LabUDSACD 2038821797203869
What’s Going OnDigital Media9
Universal Motown (for Motown releases between 2005-2011 only)602435428147
What’s Going On (deluxe edition)2×SHM-CD19 + 16
  • JP2009-04-09
Motown (Motown Records)UICY-94036/74988005554901
What’s Going On (deluxe edition)2×CD19 + 16
  • FR2010-10-25
Motown (Motown Records), Tamla0044001340529, 0044001340628, 0600753279557600753279557
What’s Going On (40th anniversary edition)2×CD + Vinyl19 + 18 + 9
  • GB2011-06-27
Universal Music (plain logo: “Universal Music”)27682270602527682273
What’s Going OnCD11
Motown (Motown Records)533 557-90600753355794
What's Going OnCD11
Motown (Motown Records)533 557-90600753355794
What’s Going OnDigital Media12
  • -2012
Universal Motown (for Motown releases between 2005-2011 only)602537046638
What’s Going OnCD15
  • JP2013-02-25
What’s Going On (mini‐LP)SHM-CD15
  • JP2013-09-25
Motown (Motown Records)UICY-400104988005782205
What's Going OnBlu-ray9
  • XE2013-10-04
Tamla Motown (for non-US releases only)0600753444504600753444504
What’s Going On2×12" Vinyl6 + 3
  • US2019-01-19
Mobile Fidelity Sound LabUD1S 2-008821797200820
What’s Going On (Deluxe Edition / 50th Anniversary)Digital Media21
  • -2021-01-20
Universal Motown Records
What’s Going On: The Detroit MixDigital Media9
  • US2021-01-22
What's Going OnVinyl9Motown (Motown Records)WL726110035627261114


covers:What’s Going On by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
included in:Volume Three 1971-1981
part of:Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2020 edition (number: 1) (order: 1)
The Guardian 100 Best Albums Ever (number: 1) (order: 1)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2012 edition (number: 6) (order: 6)
Absolute Radio's The 100 Collection (number: 11) (order: 11)
Discogs:https://www.discogs.com/master/66631 [info]
reviews:https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/n825 [info]
https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/pq9p [info]
other databases:https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/marvin_gaye/whats_going_on/ [info]
https://www.musik-sammler.de/album/64924/ [info]
Allmusic:https://www.allmusic.com/album/mw0000651085 [info]
Wikidata:Q901648 [info]

CritiqueBrainz Reviews

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Easily one of the greatest albums of all time, What's Going On is nothing short of a masterpiece. Like Bob Marley's Exodus, it mixes gritty social commentary and anguished dissatisfaction with expressions of religious devotion; indeed, the singer once stated that the album had been written by God, with Gaye merely the vehicle selected to deliver its messages. And like Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, its non-standard musical arrangements, which heralded a new sound at the time, gives it a chilling edge that ultimately underscores its gravity, with subtle orchestral enhancements offset by percolating congas, expertly layered above James Jamerson's bubbling bass. For a singer that had built his career on pop records written by others, What's Going On was a very bold departure, and considering that Motown boss Berry Gordy was flatly against issuing it, Gaye's determination in seeing the project to fruition is certainly something to be celebrated.

Ten years ago, for the 30th anniversary reissue, Universal unearthed the album's alternate early mix, done in Detroit, shortly before Marvin and Motown shifted camp to Los Angeles; this less-cluttered mix is highly instructive, allowing listeners to hear the disc from a new vantage point. The 30th set also had a live bonus set, taken from a 1972 performance; but this time around, the collected bonus tracks include original mono mixes of the album's 45 RPM single releases, plus some unreleased outtakes from the LP, as well as an entire second CD of funk jams Marvin cut with Hamilton Bohannon's band. Much of this material has never been released before. This time around, the Detroit mix of the album has been relegated to vinyl only (good news for those who prefer that format to compact disc), while the accompanying LP-sized booklet has brief essays by biographers David Ritz and Ben Edmonds, giving a bit of context to the proceedings.

In any form, What's Going On is an album that everyone should have in their collection; no matter how many times you play it, there is always something else to discover, from the post-Vietnam psychosis of What's Happening Brother to the pusher's ode of Flyin' High; from the terror of Mercy Mercy Me to the hopefulness of Right On and the righteous indignation of Inner City Blues. If you've already got both mixes of What's Going On, the funk jams make this release a welcome package; if you haven't heard the album for a while, or never got your hands on the Detroit mix, this 40th anniversary edition is a must-have.