Review #1: What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye

Karla Clifton
2 min readJan 5, 2021

#1: What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye

I heard this album for the first time at the start of a 25-hour road trip. I got lost in a major city during the first half. My familiarity with the music was pretty low, so my first listening experience of the Greatest Album of All Time (according to RS Magazine) was a little anxiety-inducing. Even on a relisten, I felt like I was constantly missing my turn.

However, Marvin Gaye’s voice is grade-A beautiful, and that jacket he wears on the album cover — what. He looks like Count Dracula on a pleasure stroll through the park. In a quick Wikipedia scan of Marvin Gaye I also learned that he was killed by his father, yikes. (I was told by a friend that this “might be TOO embarrassing to admit.”)

RS’s blurb mentions that Gaye wrote it when he was “depressed” and that the album’s theme is “human rights.” This album definitely reminded me to be depressed about human rights. I almost wished I’d listened to this later on in the road trip; I feel like it would have been a great album to quell road rage. “War is not the answer,” I would have reminded myself as that little red Dodge passed me. Alas.


“What’s Going On” — How lame will you think I am if I say I’d never heard this song before? But I loved it.

“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” — Marvin Gaye had a beautiful voice!

“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” — This is my favorite song on the album; I love any songs that remind me of being on the Metro, and this gives me that feeling stronger than any song I’ve ever heard.


“Save the Children” — Nope, sorry. Any song that talks about encouraging children is a miss for me.

“Right On” — I know this is a great song, but I have a vivid flashback of almost dying in my car on a particularly icy road whenever I hear it.

“Wholy Holy” — I was very into the strings and sax in this one, but man do I hate wordplay.


I don’t know, man. Who’s to say what the best album of ALL TIME is? Of ALL TIME? There is no right answer. There is no way RS would have satisfied me. This is my dual conclusion:

1. RS is right. This is the Greatest Album of All Time.

2. RS is wrong — the Greatest Album of All Time is Live Through This by Hole (currently sitting at #106).

Intro: Karla Clifton Reviews Rolling Stone Magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”

Review #2: Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys