Saturday, 3 December 2016

Marvin Gaye’s Landmark Studio Album Pt.1

A defining moment for Marvin Gaye and the Motown origination.
Marvin Gaye's landmark album
This was first time in the history of Motown that The Funk Brothers and the other musicians who were members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra were given full credit on the album notes, including the sound engineer. The album was a defining moment in Motown’s history, a landmark album, a Jazz-oriented recording project that allowed The Funk Brothers to shine as trained Jazz musicians, mixed with the best classically-trained musicians from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of Gordon Staples.
What's Going On was the first album on which Motown Records' main studio band, the group of session musicians known as the Funk Brothers, received an official credit.
The first Marvin Gaye album credited as being produced by the artist himself, “What's Going On” is a unified concept album consisting of nine songs, most of which lead into the next. It has also been categorized as a song cycle; the album ends on a reprise of the album's opening theme. The album is told from the point of view of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for, and seeing only hatred, suffering, and injustice. Gaye's introspective lyrics discuss themes of drug abuse, poverty, and the Vietnam War. He has also been credited with criticizing global warming before the public outcry against it had become prominent. It (the studio album) has become masterpiece of tremendous impact and influence across generations and it content is still relevant today with the social and political situations occurring in America and around the world. The recording project pushed Marvin Gaye to icon status internationally and made him a house whole name in the same breath as the late Otis Redding and Jimmy Hendricks.
According to Van DePitte: “Marvin wanted somebody other than the normal drummers who worked at Motown. Chet was coming from a little different place. He was a white guy, and he had done a great deal of studying in the classical vein. He was also one of the best jazz drummers I ever worked with. When this guy locked into a groove, you couldn’t shift him.”
Golden World Studios in Detroit, Studio B, was used to record the strings and horns section, led by concert master Gordon Staples, whilst the rhythm section was recorded at Motown’s old Studio A on West Grand Boulevard. Marvin Gaye’s creative instincts were certainly validated by the middle of 1971 when “What’s Going On” was racing up the charts, becoming a best-seller for Motown.
Picture of Van De Pitte conducting a recording with the late Bob Babbitt playing guitar at the session.




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About Me

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Old Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom
Kevin Tomlin has over 34 years of teaching experience in Jamaica, England and America, including 15 years teaching music history of black origin and visual art in South Florida, U.S.A., through Arts in Education. Tomlin created special training programmes and workshops for music teachers in South Florida schools, using music history as the foundation, to build exciting programmes of study and support materials for education professionals. Since 2000, he’s taught music history, geography, religious education, history, visual arts and performing arts at schools in Hertfordshire and Essex, at both primary and secondary levels. He conducts research and provides consultancy services for multi-media organisations, schools, recording artists, cultural and faith-based groups and entertainment professionals.

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