1. "What's Going On" (Cleveland, M. Gaye, Benson) – 3:53
2. "What's Happening Brother" (Nyx, M. Gaye) – 2:43
3. "Flyin' High (In the Friendly Sky)" (M. Gaye, A. Gaye, E. Stover) – 3:49
4. "Save the Children" (Cleveland, M. Gaye, Benson) – 4:03
5. "God Is Love" (M. Gaye, A. Gaye, E.Stover, Nyx) – 1:41
6. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" (M. Gaye) – 3:16
1. "Right On" (DeRouen, M. Gaye) – 7:31
2. "Wholy Holy" (Cleveland, M. Gaye, Benson) – 3:08
3. "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" (M. Gaye, Nyx) – 5:26
Originally released in 1971, WHAT'S GOING ON remains a landmark album, one that redefined music with powerful, anthemicsongs that remain pertinent to this day. Before WHAT'S GOING ON, R&B albums were collections of singles, with secondary"filler" material rounding out the LPs. Marvin Gaye changedall this by releasing a concept album that went beyond the usual boy-meets-girl scenario, weaving together an aural collage of societal ills. "Crime is increasing/Trigger-happy policing", from "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)", is as potent a line today as it was over 20 years ago, and withthe country still divided over the Vietnam War, the title track became a rallying cry for peace.
Dark, mercurial, and jazzy, WHAT'S GOING ON was as radical musically as it was conceptually. Layered with lush orchestrations, heavenly background vocals, and loose, fiercely grooving arrangements, WHAT'S GOING ON so surpassed anything previously known as soul music that it virtually reinvented the genre. The criticaland commercial success of Gaye's opus also enabled other artists to break free from the creative shackles imposed by Motown and other companies, and to experience more autonomy inmusical and thematic expression, thereby changing the industry. In short, the musical and historical significance of WHAT'S GOING ON cannot be overestimated; it was Gaye's masterpiece, and still stands as one of the greatest soul albums ofall time.