Marvin Gaye's What's Going On 40th Anniversary Edition
This new Super Deluxe Edition includes two CDs and one vinyl LP, 14 unreleased tracks, copious rarities, all complemented by an oversized booklet with two essays and rare photos from the original cover shoot.
Inside as well is a reproduction of the album graphics, which showcased, for the first time at Motown, the song's lyrics—and identified the musicians.
Added to the album on Disc 1 are several outtakes from sessions that led up to the recording of the LP—the original mix of the title song Marvin presented to Motown's legendary Quality Control meeting, where it was summarily rejected; and song demos which show Marvin wrestling with the rejection—as well as the album's three mono single releases, each of which reached No. 1 R&B and Top 10 pop: "What's Going On" (in a very different mix than the LP), "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)," plus their B-sides, of which two are alternate takes from the familiar LP versions.
Disc 2 of What's Going On – Super Deluxe Edition is a document of the album's aftermath, when Marvin Gaye, reluctant to tour and shy about becoming the "spokesman of his generation," holed up in Motown's Studio B in Detroit with like-minded musicians—among them the young guitarists Ray Parker Jr. and Wah Wah Watson, and the 20-year-old bassist Michael Henderson, fresh from a Miles Davis tour—and simply jammed over several days. These tracks, mostly instrumental, are as brooding and funky as the What's Going On album cover. The rest of the disc includes Gaye's final sessions in Detroit; among the few tunes he recorded was a sequel of sorts to the album, the politically tinged non-LP single "You're The Man," which hit the R&B top 10 in spring 1972. Also included are two rare alternate takes of the song.
Capping this special release is the first ever 12-inch vinyl LP of the "Detroit Mix" of What's Going On, the original, darker mix of the entire album, left behind when Gaye decided to finish the overdubs in Los Angeles.
The anniversary will also be marked on stage this summer when Rickey Minor, Stevie Wonder and Friends (including special guest Janelle Monáe) perform a July 24 Hollywood Bowl concert concluding with a tribute to What's Going On. In May of next year, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the National Symphony Orchestra with John Legend and The Roots will collaborate for a special What's Going On concert to note the 40th anniversary of Gaye's legendary performance at that venue.