Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#70 Stevie Wonder-Talking Book


Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: Talking Book
Label: Tamla
Year: 1972

Talking Book is neither Stevie Wonder's first great album overall or his first serious record released upon taking artistic control of his career. But Talking Book remains one his finest for just how goddamn good it is. It's also one of his most diverse, as it precedes the political Innervisions, but still spends a good deal of time with more romantically-influenced topics in his songs. Throughout the entire record, song after song is glorious.
It starts with one his most beloved songs, "You Are The Sunshine of My Love," and Stevie celebrates his artistic muse. The closing track "I Believe (When I Fall In Love With You It'll Be Forever)" is equally gorgeous, and one of my favorite songs of his. The feeling you get when a relationship represents everything you love in life is given off beautifully. And then of course there's "Superstition," one of his best known and loved songs. I wonder if it is at all aimed at his home life/growing up, and a metaphor for how people evade living their lives? Whatever the inspiration, it's amazing lead lines and perfect chorus still resonate today. But beyond the hits, there are some amazing songs on this record.
"Maybe Your Baby" follows the opening track with seven minutes of unadulterated, pure funk groove. "Big Brother" and "Tuesday Heartbreak" are could-be pop gems, had they been released as singles, as they are short and to the point. Really every song on the album, again, is awesome, and the diversity of songwriting really stands out throughout everything.
Of course, Stevie was just getting started with Talking Book. The next album Innervisions would be his best, and he'd continue a string of albums that includes Songs In The Key of Life and Fulfillingness' First Finale before ...the 80s. Stevie could be the finest artist of the mid-1970s, and Talking Book is a strong piece of evidence for that argument.

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