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Soul - Released January 1, 1973 | Motown

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At 23 years of age, Stevie Wonder’s music is in its innovative stages in Innervisions, released on August 3, 1973. Playing all kinds of instruments, featuring musicians such as Jeff Beck, Ray Parker Jr., David Sanborn and Buzz Feiten, and touching on a range of themes from drugs, ghetto, spirituality, politics, racism and of course love with a big L, Michigan’s musical genius manages to create the ultimate fusion of soul, rhythm’n’blues, funk and pop. The sound of his synthesisers was unprecedented at the time and works well with this spiritual soul music that is full of crazy melodies. Innervisions provides the perfect soundtrack for difficult times in America, like in Living for The City where Stevie recalls the trials and tribulations of a young black man from Mississippi who went to New York for a job he would never get, before ending up behind bars (to make his 7-minute composition even more realistic, he incorporates street recordings, siren sounds and arrest-dialogues). With He’s Misstra Know-It-All, Stevie takes a thinly-veiled dig against the incumbent president, Richard Nixon. This album is the perfect addition to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On released two years earlier as we leave the blues behind and embrace the broken American dream instead. It’s also very personal for Stevie Wonder, who has the original Innervisions cover engraved in braille, “This is my music. It’s all I have to say to you and all that I feel. Know that your love helps mine to stay strong”. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

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Pop - Released January 1, 1979 | Motown

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Stevie Wonder broke a three-year silence, one that followed a series of six classic albums released within six years, with this double album, the score/soundtrack to a little-seen environmental documentary directed by Wild Bunch co-screenwriter Walon Green. From the release of Songs in the Key of Life through the release of Plants, Wonder had been active, actually, but only as a collaborator, working with Ramsey Lewis, the Pointer Sisters, Minnie Riperton, Syreeta, Ronnie Foster, and Michael Jackson. Even so, three years was a considerable lag between albums. Anticipation was so high that this release peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 and R&B album charts. It quickly slipped to footnote status; when Wonder’s 1972-1980 albums were reissued in 2000, it was left out of the program. Plants is a sprawling, fascinating album. Though it is dominated by synthesizer-heavy instrumental pieces with evocative titles, there is a handful of full-blown songs. The gorgeous, mostly acoustic ballad “Send One Your Love” was a Top Ten R&B single, while the joyous “Outside My Window” registered in the Top 60. Beyond that, there’s the deep classic “Come Back as a Flower,” a gently lapping, piano-led ballad featuring Syreeta on vocals. Otherwise, there are playfully oddball tracks like “Venus’ Flytrap and the Bug,” where Wonder chirps “Please don’t eat me!” through robotizing effects, and “A Seed’s a Star,” which incorporates crowd noise, a robotized monologue, and a shrieking Tata Vega over a funkier and faster version of Yellow Magic Orchestra. The album is not for everyone, but it suited its purpose and allowed its maker an amount of creative wiggle room that few major-label artists experience. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1985 | Motown

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Dance - Released February 28, 2020 | Ministry of Sound Recordings

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Soul - Released January 1, 1973 | Motown

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 /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 30, 2019 | Mini Music Productions

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Motown

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Soul - Released July 29, 2014 | Heavenly Sweetness

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Soul - Released July 2, 1997 | Dream Beat

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R&B - Released May 4, 1982 | UNI - MOTOWN

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 /TiVo
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Rap - Released March 5, 1991 | Giant

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Film Soundtracks - Released November 18, 2016 | Republic - Universal Pictures - Sing

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Pop - Released January 1, 2005 | Motown

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R&B - Released January 1, 1985 | Motown

Although it went platinum, nothing stands as better evidence of how cyclical the pop experience is than the response to In Square Circle. Wonder actually wrote some superb songs, and several, like "Overjoyed" and "I Love You Too Much," were superior to the hit single "Part-Time Lover." But that one zoomed to the top spot and became the album's definitive tune in the minds of many. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 1995 | Motown

Beginning in the mid-'80s Stevie Wonder's albums didn't catch the public's attention, and Conversation Peace did not change that, although it wasn't for lack of trying. Wonder's gift for melody is still in place, and he incorporates understated hip-hop rhythms into his music well, yet he isn't able to make music that fit into the rigid play lists of '90s urban contemporary radio. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 30, 1979 | UNI - MOTOWN

Stevie Wonder broke a three-year silence, one that followed a series of six classic albums released within six years, with this double album, the score/soundtrack to a little-seen environmental documentary directed by Wild Bunch co-screenwriter Walon Green. From the release of Songs in the Key of Life through the release of Plants, Wonder had been active, actually, but only as a collaborator, working with Ramsey Lewis, the Pointer Sisters, Minnie Riperton, Syreeta, Ronnie Foster, and Michael Jackson. Even so, three years was a considerable lag between albums. Anticipation was so high that this release peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 and R&B album charts. It quickly slipped to footnote status; when Wonder’s 1972-1980 albums were reissued in 2000, it was left out of the program. Plants is a sprawling, fascinating album. Though it is dominated by synthesizer-heavy instrumental pieces with evocative titles, there is a handful of full-blown songs. The gorgeous, mostly acoustic ballad “Send One Your Love” was a Top Ten R&B single, while the joyous “Outside My Window” registered in the Top 60. Beyond that, there’s the deep classic “Come Back as a Flower,” a gently lapping, piano-led ballad featuring Syreeta on vocals. Otherwise, there are playfully oddball tracks like “Venus’ Flytrap and the Bug,” where Wonder chirps “Please don’t eat me!” through robotizing effects, and “A Seed’s a Star,” which incorporates crowd noise, a robotized monologue, and a shrieking Tata Vega over a funkier and faster version of Yellow Magic Orchestra. The album is not for everyone, but it suited its purpose and allowed its maker an amount of creative wiggle room that few major-label artists experience. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2013 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Instar Records

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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released October 4, 2011 | Rhino Atlantic

Backing off a bit from the outright funky fusion of 1972's Gypsy Man, Terra Nova nonetheless finds saxophonist Robin Kenyatta still indulging his newfound love of electricity and rhythmically altered jazz-funk tempered by his newfound love of Caribbean music. This Michael Cuscuna-produced date showcases Kenyatta's alto in three different settings -- though half of them feature him in an octet with a pair of electric guitarists and two pianists, an organist, bassist, drummer, and no less than Ralph MacDonald on percussion. The feel on most of these cuts is informed by bubbling funky reggae and calypso. Eric Kaz's "Temptation Took Control (And I Fell)" and " Mother Earth (Provides for Me)," Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" and the originals "Island Shakedown" and the title track (that add saxophonist Carlos Garnett, trumpeter Enrico Rava, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa), are all drenched in these rhythms. The remaining two numbers include a tough, Ray Charles- inflected soul-jazz version of Little Willie John's "Need Your Love So Bad," and the straight up proto-smooth jazz tune "Touch." These latter two numbers make the recording feel a bit schizy, but nonetheless extremely enjoyable -- though in 1973 it must have felt like it was coming from left-field -- and has dated well This is a prime example of the wide range of musical interests Kenyatta attempted to integrate during the '70s. Wounded Bird finally made this set available on CD in 2008. © Thom Jurek /TiVo