Listen without prejudice. If you are a pure drone/metal/psychedelic/indie rock lover and are only aware of “I just called to say I love you”, you will probably despise this site and never come back. Please don’t! As the most open-minded and fan of all types of music ever (well almost…), I can swear to you that there is almost no better period in music than these five years for Stevie Wonder.
Stevie had been a product of the great Tamla Motown family since a very young kid and was one of the Singles providers of this label on a par side with Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Supremes and so on… But he had bigger plans and negociated toughly with the label owner (Berry Gordy) a new contract when reaching 21 and not being a minor anymore. This contract allowed him to get complete control and freedom on his music and Stevie started a range of five amazing records: Music of my mind-1972 (9/10), Talking book-1972 (9/10) , Innervisions-1973 (10.5/10), Fulfillingness’ first finale (9.5/10) and Songs in the key of life (10/10).
a) the sound: completely new, mixing soul, funk but also progressive rock and latin. Stevie was very curious about sound texture and one of the first to work on synthetizers, working with a Toronto band and experimenting a lot;
b) the themes and passion: as Marvin Gaye did on his side, Stevie went a bit away from the usual love songs and focused on every topics of interest and very often the state of the world in the 70’s and what it meant to be a black man in the US at that time. “Living (just enough) for the City” on” Innervisions” is a fantastic example of this;
c) the man: Stevie was very often playing all instruments (keyboards of course but also drums, bass, guitar, etc…) and had years in frustration behind him. One must not forget that Stevie is a blind man too and that he even lost his sense of smell for a few months after a car accident and therefore his musical sense is extraordinary;
d) the songs: “Superwoman”, “Superstition”, “Higher Ground”, “Too High”, “Smile Please”, “Sir Duke”, “As”, “I Wish”, etc… The list could be endless.
Here is a video of Stevie Wonder at his top:
As all great artists, he went away of this creative peak little by little and went on doing good and not so good records but who cares after the amazing quality of what he did in the 70’s. Oh and by the way, 10.5/10 for Innervisions as this is my favorite record EVER…