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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Marvin Gaye

What’s Going On |


Few artists have spoken for their generation, for their people, the way Marvin Gaye did when he released his masterpiece What’s Going On in May 1971. The 40th anniversary Super Deluxe Edition is a righteous reminder of how much the music-and the message-still resonate today. Back then, this ushered Motown from its ’60s hit parade of pop-friendly singles into a brave new era, paving the way for more album-oriented artists and socially conscious soul. Before seizing creative control, Gaye didn’t seem capable of this kind of man-on-a-mission statement, his cohesive vision seamlessly segueing one track into the next. (Shudder to think splitting this into $0.99 song downloads.) Extras include alternate takes of cuts like the title tune plus a bonus CD with instrumental jams Gaye recorded afterward. But it’s the vinyl LP that makes me wanna holler with joy.

Arctic Monkeys

Suck It and See |


To borrow from Beavis and Butt-Head, Arctic Monkeys albums don’t suck. Now four full-lengthers in, these English lads are building one of the best catalogs in 21st-century rock. While their latest is not quite up to the brilliant one-two punch of 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and ’07’s Favourite Worst Nightmare, it’s easily on par with ’09’s moody Humbug. Like the latter, Suck It and See is produced by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. And though there’s a dark heaviness to cuts like the terrifically titled “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” others, such as the sweet “Reckless Serenade,” radiate a Brit-pop melodicism.