Remembering Marvin Gaye’s classic end to his classic album.
Marvin Gaye is one of the greatest R&B artists of all time. A lot of that greatness is contributed to his ambition towards discussing topical matters. In other words, he is one of the pioneers of the concept album, an album in which all of the songs revolve particular themes. All of this started in 1971, with the release of What’s Going On.
Fueled by higher ambition and more creative control, What’s Going On ushered in an artful era of Marvin Gaye’s career with more provocative and thought provoking R&B. “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” serves as the climax of the album; not only does it tie the themes from the album together, but it also shows the gradual progression of Gaye as an artist.
Using what he learned from his early Motown days, the song utilizes the Funk Brothers for background instrumentation and backbeat percussion, while Marvin Gaye carries the lead. Moving forward from his early Motown days, there is a haunting bass lead guiding the ambience, minor chords from a piano resonating throughout the entire track, bongos that give off a tribal atmosphere, a string section that creates a rising effect, Gaye singing for his life. The chorus even changes the chord progression and builds up every time Gaye sings, “Make me wanna holler.” This builds up to a point after the last chorus where Gaye breaks out into full-blown scatting with intense energy.
There is so much more greatness to this song that can’t be communicated. Take my word for it and listen for yourself.