WASHINGTON - Prince of Motown and D.C. native son Marvin Gaye is in the spotlight again, more than 30 years after his tragic death in Los Angeles.
Gaye’s seminal album “What’s Going On” is the latest honoree atop Rolling Stone’s ever-shifting list of “The Top 500 Albums of All-Time” – supplanting the Beatles classic, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
The selection is timely.
Gaye’s masterpiece was a thoughtful – often melancholy – examination of police brutality, as well as the environment, the Vietnam War and drug addiction.
Rolling Stone describes “What’s Going On” as Motown’s first concept album.
The publication documents the inspiration for the album – which was sparked when Renaldo “Obie” Benson of the Four Tops watched police club protesters in Berkeley in May 1969.
When the rest of the Four Tops passed on his song “What’s Going On,” Benson found a champion for it in Gaye, who was already among Motown’s top performers.
In 2020, the album’s echoes are obvious, as protesters march still in cities throughout the country, protesting police violence in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Talyor in Louisville, Ky.
Rolling Stone’s top five according to its newest list, includes The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life,” and The Beatles “Abbey Road.”
You can read more about the entire list on Rolling Stone’s website.