Tuesday, April 10, 2007

256. Stevie Wonder - Talking Book (1972)

Track Listing

1. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
2. Maybe Your Baby
3. You And I
4. Tuesday Heartbreak
5. You've Got It Bad Girl
6. Superstition
7. Big Brother
8. Blame It On The Sun
9. Lookin' For Another Pure Love
10. I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)


Having been born in 1982, for a long time I was not aware of the quality of Stevie Wonder's earlier years. My first contact was I Just Called To Say I Love You... a song best left alone... although Kelly LeBroc in Woman in Red was one of my first wanks while watching a film... not so much Gene Wilder.

So, many moons later I got an inkling of Stevie Wonder's quality when I came into contact with Superstition. Later while watching High Fidelity for the first time I came in contact with I Believe, which is the closing credits song. That was when I decided to get into Stevie. If you go back to the 70's there's a collection of albums by Stevie which not only deserve but demand to be in everyone's music library. Talking Book is very much among them.

Nothing sounded like this in 1972, no other funk album had this amount of quality or artistic endeavour, no rock album funked this hard... really nothing was like this. This is completely amazing, from the first track to the last and particularly in Superstiton you can hear a man doing his own thing. Still, it is his own thing which is also extremely catchy and danceable and you can't help but dance stupidly about the rooms while this is playing. This one, together with Innervisions is definitely in my top 20 albums of the 70's list. That's how good it is. Really if you haven't already just get it. Stevie is tender, funky and his beautiful voice always sounds like the most natural thing on earth, there is never undue effort and it sounds pristine. Get it now at Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Superstition
2. I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)
3. Maybe Your Baby
4. Big Brother

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Sandwiched between the release of Music of My Mind and Innervisions, Talking Book saw Wonder enjoying more artistic freedom from Motown, taking over the production reins and playing most of the instruments. Featured guest appearances include guitar heroes Jeff Beck, Ray Parker, Jr. and Buzzy Feton (Howard "Buzz" Feiten). The sound of the album is sharply defined by Wonder's keyboard work, especially with the synthesizers he incorporated, giving a funky edge to tracks like "Maybe Your Baby". His use of the Hohner clavinet model C on "Superstition" is widely regarded as one of the definitive tracks featuring the instrument. His swinging clavinet and harmonica embellishments on "Big Brother", though, defy categorization.

Wonder won three awards for Talking Book at the 1974 Grammys: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", and both Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for "Superstition". Incidentally, in the same ceremony, Wonder's next album, Innervisions, won Album of the Year and Talking Book's producers Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff won the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical award for their work on that album. Cecil and Margouleff produced four of Wonder's "classic" albums in all: Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions and Fulfillingness' First Finale, as well as several albums by the Isley Brothers and others. They employed an unusual production technique using multiple layers of instruments such as the clavinet, Fender Rhodes electric pianos, and Arp & Moog synthesizers in place of the string orchestras used in conventional production techniques. This combination is what gives Talking Book and these other three albums their distinctive sound.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 90 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Superstition on Sesame Street, it's an extended 7 minute long version of the song! What were they thinking? The kids seem to like it:

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