May 21, 2011 sees the 40th Anniversary of the release of MARVIN GAYE’S ‘What’s Going On’. Back in ’71 label boss, BERRY GORDY had serious misgivings about the LP, but, of course, it went onto become an acknowledged classic and it’s regularly cited as one of greatest albums in the annals of popular music. To celebrate the anniversary, Motown/UMe has announced the release of ‘What’s Going On – Super Deluxe Edition’, on May 31, 2011. This new edition includes two CDs and one vinyl LP. There are unreleased tracks, lots of rarities and an oversized booklet with two essays and rare photos from the original cover shoot. The set comes in a double-gatefold 12×12 package and it’s all newly remastered.
The first CD in the pack features the original album along with outtakes and demos from sessions that led up to the recording of the LP. There’s also the mono mixes of the album’s three singles. Disc 2 of ‘What’s Going On – Super Deluxe Edition’ features music recorded just after the original was released. It includes instrumentals that GAYE recorded with guitarists RAY PARKER JR. and WAH WAH WATSON, and the 20-year-old bassist MICHAEL HENDERSON. 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.
The album’s vinyl disc is the first ever 12-inch vinyl LP of the “Detroit Mix” of ‘What’s Going On’. This is considered a darker mix than the authorized release, which, of course, featured overdubs recorded in Los Angeles.
The LP-sized booklet has rare photos from the sessions, the original lyrics, detailed recording annotations and two essays: one by GAYE biographer DAVID RITZ describing the “Why” MARVIN GAYE created his first-ever self-produced album, and another detailing the “How” by BEN EDMONDS, author of ‘What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye and The Last Days Of The Motown Sound.’
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.