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Innervisions — Stevie Wonder

February 6, 2013

Innervisions

Stevie Wonder

1973

“Little” Stevie Wonder was a sixties child prodigy who actually exceeded his potential. By the seventies he was a one-man band, producing, arranging and performing almost everything he released.

Besides the social politics there’s a parallel between Innervisions and Curtis Mayfield’s excellent 1972 soundtrack, Superfly. In fact Stevie’s Living for the City sounds as if it could have been written for that film. Whatever the stimulus, that year its staccato top line seemed to permeate every summer city and suburb evening.

Stevie is a songwriter who knows there is good mileage in exploring all writing formats – flitting effortlessly between soul, jazz and funk his vocal ability enables him to be seemingly unrestricted in performance. The album’s easy listening classic All In Love Is Fair demonstrates this rare skill of multiple styles as he did on the Talking Book album with I Believe When We Fall. 

Contrast these with the acerbic gospel style of Jesus Children of America and you have songs from the super league but belonging to different disciplines:

…Are you standing/like a soldier?

…Are you standing for everything you talk about?..

The cool, breezy feel of Misstra Know It All is almost edible. This track is the winner in the best use of a piano in a pop song category and probably the finest track on the album:

…He’s the coolest one with the biggest mouth

He’s Misstra Know it all…

Golden Lady seems to be the type of recording that Stevie can pull out of his top drawer at will – a sort of executive bread and butter track. And the vibrant Higher Ground is a good attempt at equalling the affect of his 1970 funk pioneering Superstition.

Don’t You Worry ’Bout A Thing has a feel reminiscent of The Girl From Ipanema and the catchy chorus made this one of Stevie’s most successful singles. The weakest track Visions has a cloying lyric, but it is not enough to put you off as the music carries the day. The only flaw in this masterwork is the disappointing cover artwork.

 

 

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