Sunday, 7 October 2018

Stevie Wonder - For Once In My Life (1968)


Released December 1968

Recorded in Detroit

By 1968, Stevie Wonder was rapidly becoming a highly respected, credible Motown artist. At the tender age of eighteen, he already had many hit singles under his belt and also two good, "proper" albums.


1. For Once In My Life
2. Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day
3. You Met Your Match
4. I Wanna Make Her Love Me
5. I'm More Than Happy (I'm Satisfied)
6. I Don't Know Why
7. Sunny
8. I'd Be A Fool Right Now
9. Ain't No Lovin'
10. God Bless The Child
11. Do I Love Her
12. The House On The Hill

This one kicks off with two Wonder classics, the now iconic, melodic and seductive "For Once In My Life" and the lesser-known, but still incredibly catchy "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" (silly title, though!). "You Met Your Match" is a precursor to his seventies work with the electronic funky keyboard sound to the fore on what is an upbeat, grinding workout. The instrument was the Hohner clavinet, and it would come to dominate Wonder's music for years to come. It made its first appearance here. It stars on the intro to the upbeat, lively "I Wanna Make Her Love Me". This is a great song, as also is the romantic and funky groove of "I'm More Than Happy (I'm Satisfied)". This is a good album full of more originals than covers. Motown was starting to realise the value of putting out quality albums full of original material. Stevie Wonder was more than happy to oblige, as too would be Marvin Gaye and The Temptations.

"I Don't Know Why" was a bluesy slow-paced song that was covered by The Rolling Stones, eventually seeing the light of day on their "Metamorphosis" compilation. "Sunny" is beautifully bassy with a sumptuous brass backing. I have to say that the stereo sound on all these Stevie Wonder albums is truly outstanding. Funnily enough, the sound quality drops a little on the verse parts of "I'd Be A Fool Right Now". It sounds a bit muffled, hissy and tinny for some reason. Thankfully, "Ain't No Lovin'" sees a return to normal with a classic Wonder lively romantic number.

"God Bless The Child" is a bassy, bluesy and jazzy number that shows Wonder's vocal versatility. The trademark harmonica appears for the first time on this album on this one. "Do I Love Her" is a soulful, laid-back groove with some nice bass and percussion. The pulsating, punchy "The House On The Hill" ends what is a short, but powerfully melodic and appealing album of end of the sixties Motown. Great stuff.


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