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Pop - Released January 1, 2014 | Universal Music

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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€12.99

Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
€12.99

R&B - Released January 1, 2000 | Motown

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Released in 1982, the double-album Original Musiquarium I summarizes Stevie Wonder's classic period of the '70s, concentrating primarily on the hits, but adding a few album tracks to hint at the depth of his albums, as well as four new songs (one for each side, all pleasant, none particularly remarkable). Though there could be some dispute about the album tracks, this does wind up as an excellent overview of Wonder's period of greatest activity, and it's a terrific listen to boot -- any record that sports such hits as "Superstition," "You Haven't Done Nothin'," "Living for the City," "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," "Higher Ground," "Sir Duke," "Boogie on Reggae Woman," and "I Wish" is guaranteed to be a great listen, and it is. Wonder remains a quintessential album artist, but this record is a terrific snapshot of the highlights. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1976 | Motown

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Songs in the Key of Life was Stevie Wonder's longest, most ambitious collection of songs, a two-LP (plus accompanying EP) set that -- just as the title promised -- touched on nearly every issue under the sun, and did it all with ambitious (even for him), wide-ranging arrangements and some of the best performances of Wonder's career. The opening "Love's in Need of Love Today" and "Have a Talk with God" are curiously subdued, but Stevie soon kicks into gear with "Village Ghetto Land," a fierce exposé of ghetto neglect set to a satirical Baroque synthesizer. Hot on its heels comes the torrid fusion jam "Contusion," a big, brassy hit tribute to the recently departed Duke Ellington in "Sir Duke," and (another hit, this one a Grammy winner as well) the bumping poem to his childhood, "I Wish." Though they didn't necessarily appear in order, Songs in the Key of Life contains nearly a full album on love and relationships, along with another full album on issues social and spiritual. Fans of the love album Talking Book can marvel that he sets the bar even higher here, with brilliant material like the tenderly cathartic and gloriously redemptive "Joy Inside My Tears," the two-part, smooth-and-rough "Ordinary Pain," the bitterly ironic "All Day Sucker," or another classic heartbreaker, "Summer Soft." Those inclined toward Stevie Wonder the social-issues artist had quite a few songs to focus on as well: "Black Man" was a Bicentennial school lesson on remembering the vastly different people who helped build America; "Pastime Paradise" examined the plight of those who live in the past and have little hope for the future; "Village Ghetto Land" brought listeners to a nightmare of urban wasteland; and "Saturn" found Stevie questioning his kinship with the rest of humanity and amusingly imagining paradise as a residency on a distant planet. If all this sounds overwhelming, it is; Stevie Wonder had talent to spare during the mid-'70s, and instead of letting the reserve trickle out during the rest of the decade, he let it all go with one massive burst. (His only subsequent record of the '70s was the similarly gargantuan but largely instrumental soundtrack Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.) ~ John Bush
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Pop - Released January 1, 1973 | Motown

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
When Stevie Wonder applied his tremendous songwriting talents to the unsettled social morass that was the early '70s, he produced one of his greatest, most important works, a rich panoply of songs addressing drugs, spirituality, political ethics, the unnecessary perils of urban life, and what looked to be the failure of the '60s dream -- all set within a collection of charts as funky and catchy as any he'd written before. Two of the highlights, "Living for the City" and "Too High," make an especially deep impression thanks to Stevie's narrative talents; on the first, an eight-minute mini-epic, he brings a hard-scrabble Mississippi black youth to the city and illustrates, via a brilliant dramatic interlude, what lies in wait for innocents. (He also uses his variety of voice impersonations to stunning effect.) "Too High" is just as stunning, a cautionary tale about drugs driven by a dizzying chorus of scat vocals and a springing bassline. "Higher Ground," a funky follow-up to the previous album's big hit ("Superstition"), and "Jesus Children of America" both introduced Wonder's interest in Eastern religion. It's a tribute to his genius that he could broach topics like reincarnation and transcendental meditation in a pop context with minimal interference to the rest of the album. Wonder also made no secret of the fact that "He's Misstra Know-It-All" was directed at Tricky Dick, aka Richard Milhouse Nixon, then making headlines (and destroying America's faith in the highest office) with the biggest political scandal of the century. Putting all these differing themes and topics into perspective was the front cover, a striking piece by Efram Wolff portraying Stevie Wonder as the blind visionary, an artist seeing far better than those around him what was going on in the early '70s, and using his astonishing musical gifts to make this commentary one of the most effective and entertaining ever heard. ~ John Bush
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Pop - Released January 1, 1972 | Motown

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After releasing two "head" records during 1970-71, Stevie Wonder expanded his compositional palette with 1972's Talking Book to include societal ills as well as tender love songs, and so recorded the first smash album of his career. What had been hinted at on the intriguing project Music of My Mind was here focused into a laser beam of tight songwriting, warm electronic arrangements, and ebullient performances -- altogether the most realistic vision of musical personality ever put to wax, beginning with a disarmingly simple love song, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (but of course, it's only the composition that's simple). Stevie's not always singing a tender ballad here -- in fact, he flits from contentment to mistrust to promise to heartbreak within the course of the first four songs -- but he never fails to render each song in the most vivid colors. In stark contrast to his early songs, which were clever but often relied on the Motown template of romantic metaphor, with Talking Book it became clear Stevie Wonder was beginning to speak his mind and use personal history for material (just as Marvin Gaye had with the social protest of 1971's What's Going On). The lyrics became less convoluted, while the emotional power gained in intensity. "You and I" and the glorious closer "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" subtly illustrate that the conception of love can be stronger than the reality, while "Tuesday Heartbreak" speaks simply but powerfully: "I wanna be with you when the nighttime comes / I wanna be with you till the daytime comes." Ironically, the biggest hit from Talking Book wasn't a love song at all; the funk landmark "Superstition" urges empowerment instead of hopelessness, set to a grooving beat that made it one of the biggest hits of his career. It's followed by "Big Brother," the first of his directly critical songs, excoriating politicians who posture to the underclass in order to gain the only thing they really need: votes. With Talking Book, Stevie also found a proper balance between making an album entirely by himself and benefiting from the talents of others. His wife Syreeta contributed two great lyrics, and Ray Parker, Jr. came by to record a guitar solo that brings together the lengthy jam "Maybe Your Baby." Two more guitar heroes, Jeff Beck and Buzzy Feton, appeared on "Lookin' for Another Pure Love," Beck's solo especially giving voice to the excruciating process of moving on from a broken relationship. Like no other Stevie Wonder LP before it, Talking Book is all of a piece, the first unified statement of his career. It's certainly an exercise in indulgence but, imitating life, it veers breathtakingly from love to heartbreak and back with barely a pause. ~ John Bush
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R&B - Released January 1, 1974 | Motown

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After the righteous anger and occasional despair of the socially motivated Innervisions, Stevie Wonder returned with a relationship record: Fulfillingness' First Finale. The cover pictures his life as an enormous wheel, part of which he's looking ahead to and part of which he's already completed (the latter with accompanying images of Little Stevie, JFK and MLK, the Motor Town Revue bus, a child with balloons, his familiar Taurus logo, and multiple Grammy awards). The songs and arrangements are the warmest since Talking Book, and Stevie positively caresses his vocals on this set, encompassing the vagaries of love, from dreaming of it ("Creepin'") to being bashful of it ("Too Shy to Say") to knowing when it's over ("It Ain't No Use"). The two big singles are "Boogie on Reggae Woman," with a deep electronic groove balancing organic congas and gospel piano, and "You Haven't Done Nothin'," an acidic dismissal of President Nixon and the Watergate controversy (he'd already written "He's Misstra Know-It-All" on the same topic). As before, Fulfillingness' First Finale is mostly the work of a single man; Stevie invited over just a bare few musicians, and most of those were background vocalists (though of the finest caliber: Minnie Riperton, Paul Anka, Deniece Williams, and the Jackson 5). Also as before, the appearances are perfectly chosen; "Too Shy to Say" can only benefit from the acoustic bass of Motown institution James Jamerson and the heavenly steel guitar of Sneaky Pete Kleinow, while the Jackson 5 provide some righteous amens to Stevie's preaching on "You Haven't Done Nothin'." It's also very refreshing to hear more songs devoted to the many and varied stages of romance, among them "It Ain't No Use," "Too Shy to Say," "Please Don't Go." The only element lacking here, in comparison to the rest of his string of brilliant early-'70s records, is a clear focus; Fulfillingness' First Finale is more a collection of excellent songs than an excellent album. ~ John Bush
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Pop - Released January 1, 1972 | Motown

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
With a new contract from Motown in his hand, Stevie Wonder released Music of My Mind, his first truly unified record and, with the exception of a single part on two songs, the work of a one-man-band. Everything he had learned about musicianship, engineering, and production during his long apprenticeship in the Snakepit at Motown Studios came together here (from the liner notes: "The sounds themselves come from inside his mind. The man is his own instrument. The instrument is an orchestra.") Music of My Mind was also the first to bear the fruits of his increased focus on Moog and Arp synthesizers, though the songs never sound synthetic, due in great part to Stevie's reliance on a parade of real instruments -- organic drumwork, harmonica, organs and pianos -- as well as his mastery of traditional song structure and his immense musical personality. The intro of the vibrant, tender "I Love Every Little Thing About You" is a perfect example, humanized with a series of lightly breathed syllables for background rhythm. And when the synthesizers do appear, it's always in the perfect context: the standout "Superwoman" really benefits from its high-frequency harmonics, and "Seems So Long" wouldn't sound quite as affectionate without the warm electronics gurgling in the background. This still wasn't a perfect record, though; "Sweet Little Girl" was an awkward song, with Stevie assuming another of his embarrassing musical personalities to fawn over a girl. ~ John Bush
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Soul - Released January 1, 1973 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Dance - Released January 1, 2007 | Motown

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Pop - Released January 1, 1980 | Motown

Four years after the pinnacle of Stevie Wonder's mid-'70s typhoon of classic albums, Hotter Than July was the proper follow-up to Songs in the Key of Life (his Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants concept record was actually a soundtrack to an obscure movie that fared miserably in theaters). It also found Wonder in a different musical climate than the one that savored his every move from 1972 to 1977. Disco and new wave had slowly crept their way into the mainstream record-buying public, and hindered the once-ample room for socially and politically charged lyrics. However, Wonder naysayed the trends and continues to do what he did best. Solid songwriting, musicianship, and production are evident in the majority of Hotter Than July. Wonder also carries on his tradition of penning songs normally not associated with his trademark sound, from the disco-tinged "All I Do" (originally planned to be released by Tammi Terrell almost ten years previously) to the reggae-influenced smash "Master Blaster (Jammin)," which went straight to the top of the R&B charts. While admittedly there are a few less-than-standard tracks, he closes the album on an amazing high note with one of the most aching ballads in his canon ("Lately") and a touching anthem to civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr. ("Happy Birthday"). While most definitely not on the same tier as Innervisions or Songs in the Key of Life, Hotter Than July is the portrait of an artist who still had the Midas touch, but stood at the crossroads of an illustrious career. ~ Rob Theakston
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Soul/Funk/R&B - Released January 1, 1976 | Motown

Following the relative commercial failure of Conversation Peace, Stevie Wonder rushed out this double-disc live album drawn from an international tour during which he was backed by different symphony orchestras, his older songs featuring string parts in place of the synthesizer lines. He introduced several new songs -- "Dancing to the Rhythm," the instrumental "Stevie Ray Blues," "Stay Gold," and "Ms. & Mr. Little Ones" -- which demonstrated that his melodic muse was still with him and that he remained an awkward lyricist when he was more interested in the political stance than the poetical scansion. But for most of the running time, he acted as a human jukebox, pumping out his bits with enthusiasm and humor before an audibly enthralled audience. That made Natural Wonder entertaining, but inessential. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Soul/Funk/R&B - Released January 1, 2005 | Motown

During times of extreme political and social change, Stevie Wonder's voice and songwriting served as cultural and spiritual guideposts to many a listener, often lending insight and a barometer with which to measure the ways of the world. But that was largely during the golden phase of his career, generally regarded as being the late '60s through 1980's Hotter Than July. His work in the mid-'80s through the '90s was marginal in comparison, only hinting at glimpses of former brilliance, sugar-coated by over-polished production and radio-friendly content. So with a decade passing since his last full-length, 1995's Conversation Piece, people waited with bated breath for a sign of his return...and wondered which Wonder would show up: would it be the socially conscious genius who wrote anthems for a generation, or the R&B crooner who dominated quiet storm radio? Thankfully, it's a blend of both. For every forward-moving song with a theme, there's a gentle moment of tranquility to cancel it out. Many of these songs, save for their warm and polished digital production values, could have easily found a home in Talking Book, Music of My Mind, or any of the other albums for which Wonder will forever be praised. In an age when the majority of R&B is about money, drugs, infidelity, or getting it on, Wonder's lyrics (especially during the love songs) recall the simplicity and innocence of early Motown without sounding trite. It's definitely a refreshing change of pace and hopefully something one or two aspiring producers and songwriters are paying attention to. These are love songs of maturity that are carefully crafted, which would more or less explain why it took nearly a decade to get them finalized, with many of them feeling like mature revisitations of the classics. (If "Happier Than the Morning Sun" and "Little Girl Blue" were a pair of teenagers in love, "Sweetest Somebody I Know" is that couple 30 years later at its class reunion.) The jazzy "How Will I Know," featuring Wonder's daughter on lead vocals (the same Aisha sung about nearly 30 years ago on "Isn't She Lovely"), is the gateway to the album's second half, a five-song cycle of ballads and quiet storm jams that will appease fans of Wonder's later work. Especially notable is "My Love Is on Fire," featuring a beautiful guest appearance from jazz flutist Hubert Laws, which exemplifies the other thing that makes A Time to Love the comeback album of the year: the never-ending list of celebrity cameo appearances so extensive it would make Carlos Santana and Clive Davis blush with modesty. Guest appearances from rap pioneer Doug E. Fresh, Bonnie Raitt, Sir Paul McCartney, Kim Burrell, Prince, Kirk Franklin, and India.Arie just scratch the surface of who contributed to this record. It's one Michael Jackson and one Lionel Richie cameo short from being a USA for Africa reunion. But while each artist lends his own style to the mix, the songs definitely remain 100 percent Wonder thanks to his distinctive singing and arrangements. The album begins its landing with "So What the Fuss," a chunky block of funk with a distorted bassline. It served as the lead single and was met with surprisingly little fanfare, especially since it's one of Wonder's most straight-ahead slices of funk in some time. And the album's title track serves as a fitting conclusion to the album, spreading Wonder's message of love and peace as strongly and convincingly as any other song he's ever done. On the whole, A Time to Love is the record Wonder fans have been waiting for, and the wait has more than paid off. Through exploration and balance, A Time to Love finds the two halves of Wonder's adult career finally coming to home to roost in peaceful harmony with one another, and it's one of the finest records he has done in decades. ~ Rob Theakston
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Pop - Released January 1, 1971 | Motown

One month before he turned 21, Stevie Wonder released Where I'm Coming From, the most distinctive record of his young career, and one that looked forward -- in its breadth of material as well as its futuristic production aesthetic -- to his many successes later in the '70s. There's a fabulous song here for nearly every type of fan; the soothing love ballad ("Think of Me as Your Soldier"), a gritty, apocalyptic funk extravanganza ("Do Yourself a Favor"), a kinetic, refreshing nod to the pop charts (the Top Ten hit "If You Really Love Me"), and an agonizing piece of heartache soul ("Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" (slightly reworked for "Superwoman" on his next album Music of My Mind). Still, there are a few echoes of his occasionally pedestrian '60s work, and a pair of songs on the flipside sound especially anachronistic. The first is a piece of inspirational fluff called "Take up a Course in Happiness" with an odd arrangement pitched halfway between Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sgt. Pepper's, the second a jokey pick-up number named "I Wanna Talk to You" (complete with leering old-man vocals). Those two however, are the exceptions; the rules are uniformly excellent. The set closers "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" and "Sunshine in Their Eyes" are bravura performances, Stevie summoning his purest register to convey heartbreak and hopefulness, respectively, in equal measure. For all the great material included, there was little chance of these songs hanging together as a proper album, and Berry Gordy's misgivings about releasing a record like this on a Motown label were, temporarily, well-placed. Still, Where I'm Coming From was a frequently astonishing album from Motown's new genius of the recording studio. ~ John Bush