Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stevie Wonder - Talking Book (1972)


Note: this release was originally purchased as an LP, later replaced by a CD.

No words can do justice to this perfect, timeless blend of songwriting and performance. All of Stevie's work in the '70s was top-notch, but this could be his finest album ever. The use of the Hohner Clavinet Model C is unmistakably Stevie and one of the most characteristic sounds of the era. In 2003, the album was ranked number 90 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. I think they underrated it at number 90. While Wonder handles most of the instruments himself, there are great solos by Ray Parker, Jr., Jeff Beck, David Sanborn, and Buzzy Feton. Why don't you have this in your collection?

In a 2009 interview with Newsweek magazine, here's what Elvis Costello had to say about Stevie: "He's the most influential musician alive. Every bad singer on American Idol tries to sound like him, and fails miserably. It would be an inspiring thing for him to be the musical laureate of America. Because he is anyway."

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #3 (Feb 3, 1973)
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #1 (3 weeks)

Tracks: You know they're all good. Sure, the hits are great (You Are The Sunshine Of My Life and Superstition) and you probably know I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever) from the final scene of the movie High Fidelity, but the hidden gems here are Tuesday Heartbreak, You've Got It Bad Girl, and Big Brother. The aforementioned I Believe may be the best closing track of any album ever. After starting off as a ballad, Stevie kicks into party/funk mode more than 4 minutes into the song when he shouts, "C'mon, let's fall in love." Then you're sad when it fades out all too quickly.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I remember the thrill of discovering the beauty of this album when I was 17 years old. I bought the album on a hunch, but was totally unprepared for what came at me. I still hear something new with each listen.

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