Friday, 19 October 2018

Stevie Wonder - My Cherie Amour (1969)


   

Released August 1969

Recorded in Detroit

After proving to be an artist to be reckoned with, Stevie Wonder trod water just a little with this album. His previous three had showed him to be a rapidly-developing artist in his own right i.e. not just a singer of other writers’ hit singles. He was putting out relatively credible Motown albums in the mid/late sixties, something that was comparatively unusual for many artists on the label, whose albums often contained a lot of “filler” covers of contemporary easy-listening standards in a bad to sell to more than just the teen market. Stevie Wonder did not need to do this, although he does it a little on this album. Considering it was recorded in 1969, there is, for me, a bit of a mid-sixties air to the album. Even the cover looks a bit dated, to be honest.

The title track is delightfully melodic and appealing, as evrybody knows, of course. An upbeat percussion and string orchestration intro sees in “Hello Young Lovers”, which also features a truly gorgeous bass line. It is from the musical “The King And I” but its Motown makeover makes it sounds like a “For Once in Your Life”-style Stevie Wonder original, complete with trademark harmonica solo. One of these appears in the jaunty “At Last” too. The Doors’ “Light My Fire” is covered comptently, but it is a pretty inessential recording. Tony Bennett’s “The Shadow Of Your Smile” is appealing enough, but it is very “easy listening”, although it is lifted by some more excellent harmonica.

“You And Me” is a catchy, bassy shuffler. For some reason, though, the sound on the album doesn’t seem quite as good as on its predecessors, although it is in stereo and the bass is solidly warm. Talking of bass, “Pearl” has an infectious bass line underpinning it. The punchy “Somebody Knows, Somebody Cares” has a feel of mid-sixties Motown about it, rather than late sixties, as indeed does much of the album. For that reason tend to I think of it as a bit of a pointer towards a change in direction for Stevie.

The album’s other huge hit single “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday” is a big slice of bassy, soulful beauty. “Angie Girl” is another song that sounds as if it from a few years earlier. “Give Your Love” is a comparatively lengthy soulful number with an ambience straight out of a movie soundtrack or musical, full of orchestration. It seems slightly incomplete, however, with an awkward spoken bit in the middle. “I’ve Got You” is pleasant enough, but certainly nothing special.

Putting out albums every years, as was the case at this time meant than some would be slightly less captivating than others, for me, this is one of those.

C+

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