- Bryon Harris
Coast 2 Coast - "Whats Going On 2021"
Review by Saya Mochizuki
Coast 2 Coast’s cover of the Marvin Gaye classic “What’s Going On” takes on a punchy, modern spin without straying far from the original’s familiarity. Starting with an irresistible groove of drums, bass, and keys (Allyn Johnson), the cover immediately captivates listeners with Robert Finney and James Stevens’ compelling lead vocals, supported by a soaring background chorus (Robert Finney, James Stevens, Rocky Whitaker).
The vocals are precisely arranged and mirror Marvin Gaye’s, yet move more openly with emotion, adding swelling dynamics that transcend into the listener’s world, similarly to a live concert.
Marvin Gaye’s inspirations for the song regarding the weight of experiencing injustice strongly translate to the present, particularly through the bridge and outro. The names of black lives lost to violence are solemnly spoken, accompanied by contrasting chord changes and sustained background vocals that build up and simmer out.
The passionate call and response vocals in each chorus put a spotlight on the truthful lyrics:
Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
C'mon talk to me
So you can see
What's going on
These timeless words of “What’s Going On” are brought back to life by Coast 2 Coast. This uplifting and thoughtful arrangement symbolizes how suffering from the past still holds meaning today.
About Coast 2 Coast
Back in 1968, at Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, a music group called The Fantastic Gems was born. After graduation, the talented musicians went off to college, the military, and new careers. Years later, two of the original members reformed in Washington D.C. as "Coast2Coast" and began recording and performing from 1986 to 1990. In 2016, The Fantastic Gems got back together to fulfill a promise they made to each other when they were young students in New Jersey. The result of their reunion was the release of The New Old Skool. The project took three years from conception to completion. The album is a tribute to their musical roots, and was made in recognition of the community who encouraged, supported and shaped their musical spirit. The New Old Skool features 11 great songs that fans of R & B, Gospel, Pop, and Jazz will love. You can find the music on most major digital outlets including Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music.