As the victims looked into the ruins, the question of "What's Going On!?" must have come to the front of New Orleans' collective consciousness more than a few times. It was this state of mind that brought Nawleans own Dirty Dozen Brass Band to aid. The fiery brass funk group made a decision in 2006 to rework Marvin Gaye's classic, What's Going On? to both remind citizens' of their unified feelings of outrage, sadness, and hope, and to raise money for Katrina relief in the album's sales. I've only played through it once thus far but it's right on!
The cover album stays relatively true to the original, maintaining the original track list and general soulful vibes, held down lyrically by a diverse cast from Guru and Chuck D to Bettye Lavette and G. Love. However, the heavy brass makes it pop like I couldn't have prepared myself for. Chuck D opens the album dropping crisp lines to the album's title track. He's in top form for this song. Lavette has had quite a bit of notoriety doing covers these past few years, and she strikes gold on "What's Happening Brother", one of my favorite reworks on the album. G. Love sort of struggled to find his voice in the context of "Mercy Mercy Me" but I suppose he still held up better than I expected him to. A bold choice though for sure. My favorite track on this disc has to be the cover of "Right On". Dirty Dozen Brass Band truly has a knack for keeping true to the soul of a song while still tearing it apart and making it their own musically. Guru closes out the album with "Inner City Blues". I'm not incredibly familiar with Marvin's version of this song, and didn't pay much attention to Guru's rhymes, but his voice sounds great over the brass and he's always providing prophetic closing words to his many projects (RIP).
Check it out here to support the cause.
Also I tossed the link in the comments if you want a run-thru before purchase or just don't have much cash.