Saturday, 6 October 2018

Stevie Wonder - Down To Earth (1966)


  

Released November 1966

Recorded in Detroit

The first thing that hits you about this upbeat, enjoyable mid-sixties album is the excellent quality stereo sound. It was strange how Motown singles at the time were released in mono, yet albums like this were given a superb stereo mix. The sound is a joy.

This was Stevie Wonder's first real "adult" album. His voice had changed and sounded older now. He was sixteen, still incredibly young, it has to be said. Taking that into account, it is a remarkable album, really.

The album is a lively mix of Motown single material such as "A Place in The Sun" and "Hey Love"; gospel songs given the Stevie touch in "Sixteen Tons" and "Lonesome Road"; Stevie's versions of Motown songs made more famous eventually by others like "My World Is Empty Without You" (a hit for Diana Ross & The Supremes); covers like Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" and Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and songs that would become known on the seventies Northern Soul circuit, like Darrell Banks' "Angel Baby" and the little-mentioned, floor-shaking stomper that is "Be Cool Be Calm (And Keep Yourself Together)".

Obviously, this is not an album in the creative mode that Wonder's seventies albums were, but as a credible mid-sixties Motown album, it is a good one. It is not full of "easy listening" covers. It still has oomph, soul and vitality. Listening to it is a pleasant half hour's breath of fresh air. A nice morning album.

B-

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