Friday, 5 October 2018

Stevie Wonder - Talking Book (1972)


  

Released October 1972

After the somewhat rambling, inconsistent "Music Of My Mind", this was the first of a classic series of seventies albums that saw Stevie Wonder really getting his whatever together. For me, it is not as great an album as "Innervisions", though, neither did it have so much socially aware material on it. It is a good album, however, mainly concerning love, romantic bliss and occasional heartbreak.

As he did on nearly all of his seventies albums, Wonder played lots of the instruments himself, save the brass (trumpet and saxophone). Keyboards, bass and drums were Stevie's territory. The album was notable for its use of the clavinet, an electronic keyboard that produced that trademark funky sound particularly utilised on the iconic "Superstition".

There is a relaxed feel to many of the songs, led by the opener, the beautiful "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life", the lovely, soulful "You've Got It Bad, Girl", the laid-back smoothness of "Lookin' For Another True Love" and the closer, "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)". "You And I" is a delightful slow number too. There is funk, led by the clavinet on "Big Brother", the shuffling, Sly Stone-ish "Maybe Your Baby" and, of course, "Superstition" where that instantly identifiable drum intro leads into the copper-bottomed funk of the melody. One of Wonder's finest songs of all time. "Tuesday Heartbreak" combines both the funky clavinet sound and wah-wah guitar with the smooth soul that is all over the album. "Blame It On The Sun" is a lovely, soulful song with some great percussion from Stevie and some sumptuous backing vocals.

Wonder's voice is finding that soulful, slightly nasal voice that characterised his seventies material, it was a different tone to that of his sixties hits - gruffer, deeper and funkier. This, and the three albums that followed it proved to be the high points of his career. All perfectly realised pieces of work. This was the first of those four classics.

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