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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stevie Wonder - In Square Circle (1985)

Note: this release was originally purchased as a cassette tape, later replaced by a CD.

In my mind, this is the last good Stevie Wonder album, although I'm holding out hope he's got a huge comeback left in him. I prefer Stevie on Hohner Clavinet than Yamaha CS80, so while most of this album sounds terribly dated, it's the incredible songwriting that keeps you coming back for more.  Don't compare it to his '70s stuff and you'll be fine.  Honestly, you should never compare anything to Stevie's '70s stuff because it isn't really fair to anyone.  This is electronic drum-driven pop rather than funk or rock, but consumers (including myself) ate it up and the album went double platinum in the US.  Side one (tracks 1-5) were all about love, while side two (tracks 6-10) are mostly social commentary.  I'm disappointed in the number of harmonica solos: one, on an otherwise lackluster Never In Your Sun. 

The album won Wonder the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 28th Grammy Awards where he performed with Thomas Dolby, Herbie Hancock and Howard Jones.  Dolby makes the faux pas of conducting a blind man:

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #5
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #1 (12 weeks) 

Tracks:  For me, Overjoyed is the highlight of the album and may be Mr. Wonder's best ballad ever.  Yes, I said ever.  I also like I Love You Too Much, Whereabouts, Go Home, and the retread of Superstition, Spiritual Walkers. I usually skip Land of La La and the ubiquitous Part-Time Lover because I've heard the latter plenty for one lifetime (with so much quality Wonder material available, why do radio stations continue to play that one?).  But I'll listen to Overjoyed at least three more times before putting this disc away.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  When I bought and played this cassette on heavy rotation in my car during my sophomore year in college, I was the only one in my circle of friends that seemed to like it.  I don't know what they were listening to, because this was Stevie F. Wonder for chrissakes.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Song Review: A Greatest Hits Collection (1996)
Songs In The Key Of Life (1976)
Talking Book (1972)
Music Of My Mind (1972)
Someday At Christmas (1967)

1 comment:

  1. This one was indeed a chart monster.

    "Part-Time Lover" #1 Pop, #1 R&B, #1 AC, #1 Dance
    "Go Home" #10 Pop, #2 R&B, #1 AC, #1 Dance
    "Overjoyed" #24 Pop, #8 R&B, #1 AC
    "Land Of La La" #86 Pop, #19 R&B

    All four singles were released as 12" singles with remixes and insturmentals as well - which makes In Square Circle a prime candidate for a deluxe edition packed with bonus tracks.

    And, like you said, the album went #5 on Pop Albums chart for two weeks, held from the top spot by:
    #1 Miami Vice,
    #2 Scarecrow - John Cougar Mellencamp,
    #3 Heart - Heart
    #4 Brothers In Arms - Dire Straits.

    The album, a FULL DIGITAL RECORDING (as it states on the cover) also peaked at #9 on Billboard's then newly launched Top Pop Compact Discs chart.

    And there were the twelve weeks atop the Black Album Chart which is very impressive until you look closer and see it superseded Freddie Jackson's 14-weeks-at-the-peak album Rock Me Tonight. Still not too shabby for the twentieth album from a guy who'd been releasing albums for more than 23 years at this point.