Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

8. Marvin GayeWhat’s Going On

Obviously, this is a classic album. It was the back cover of that album that got me. It’s a photo of him in the rain in a children’s park and he is wearing an amazing jacket. He looks really down and that was how I was feeling at the time – I was getting into the depression of my teenage years.

It has a similar feel to another great album, Prince’s Sign O’ The Times, and also Rhythm Nation 1814, in that they explore what’s going wrong in the world – and that things are bad and only going to get worse. However, Marvin Gaye did that with such skill and I love the way that the tracks flow into each other like one big painting. Once you start that album you really have to listen to it until the end, or else you feel like you are not giving it a fair amount of consideration.

It is just a great album and completely beautiful in the vocals and orchestration. It is a proper album – it does everything it needs to do and it is not too long. It all sounds beautifully spaced and builds up to ‘Mercy Mercy Me’ and I love all the little string section reprises. Everything about the package – the music and the artwork – was perfect.

I have just started reading a biography about Marvin Gaye and I know that this album was made when he was in a very bad place. Before I got this album, I was unaware of him apart from the ‘troubled man’ reference on some hip-hop songs. There was an extra bonus for me: I also got to love Curtis Mayfield by getting into Marvin Gaye.

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