INNER CITY BLUES * MARVIN GAYE * TAMLA MOTOWN 817 * UK
Marvin Gaye was known by Motown fans for most of his professional career as a singer of love songs who sung both ballads and up-tempo dance numbers in a romantic vein, in fact he was the number one heartthrob at Motown records. Then, in January 1971, Motown released a politically aware 'concept' album by him, with nine tracks none of which were anything to do with love in the boy meets girl situation, instead they focused on a range of issues including, drugs, unemployment, war, ecology and social deprivation. The album took every one by complete surprise, the impact of which helped to strengthen the moral messages that the album contained. This, it was felt, was not a cash in on the flavour of the time for more 'serious' songs of the type exemplified by progressive rock bands, but Marvin Gaye's own reflexive thoughts finally given vent after being overlaid by the music industries demands of a more ephemeral nature. The first single taken from the album was the title track What's Going On a song about the confusion of his brother [a brother] returning home from the madness and horrors of the Viet Nam war only to find confusion and madness in his native America. The second single taken from the album was Mercy Mercy Me, released in June of that year, is Marvin Gaye's disquiet and sadness with the abuses inflicted on nature by man in the late twentieth century. The above was the third single taken from the album, released in September, it contained the most direct social and political comments on issues like urban deprivation and class conflict.
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