Friday, February 13, 2009

Number 419 - Stevie Wonder


Number 419

Stevie Wonder

"Superstition"

(1972)
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Genre: R&B
1985 was the last time Stevie Wonder had a hit in the charts, that was 24 years ago. So? you say. Well, it's just a long time between innings as one could say. I just felt Stevie had more petrol left in the tank, after all he is one of the most talented people alive musically on this planet from singing to playing every single instrument in an entire orchestra. Does a musician really retire? Or hang up the cape? To move on to a normal life, hang out with the kids, mow the lawns & tinker in the kitchen on Sundays making omelette's? Of course not. After all, inside him is the performer and that cannot be domesticated or denied. So, when we say to our "Dearest" I'm of to the garage or the office, he can slip away to another room we all wish we could have at our house .... the recording studio crib!
What am i getting at? Its easy, I still think that he has it inside of him to record another #1 hit album, that will prove that he is still the genius we all think he is.
art by NegroSaki
After releasing two "head" records during 1970-71, Stevie Wonder expanded his compositional palate 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.
For more Stevie Wonder see Number 657
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.
For Marvin Gaye see Number 611
are you sure this is the internet?
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 and her sister Yvonne Wright contributed three 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, All Music Guide]
For Jeff Beck see Number 636
Friday the 13th = Superstition
Wonder had actually written this song for Jeff Beck, but at the insistence of his own manager, Wonder himself recorded it first. Beck was instead offered "Cause We've Ended As Lovers", which he recorded on Blow by Blow in 1975. Jeff Beck played guitar on Talking Book and later recorded his own version of "Superstition" with Beck, Bogert & Appice. Wonder's music had been undergoing a marked change from his earlier Motown pop to a more personal style. This shift had been evident on his two prior albums, but it was Talking Book, and "Superstition" in particular that brought the new style to the awareness of the public in general. ~ [Source: Wikipedia]
And, what does RS think of S.Wonder?
Groomed from an early age for Motown stardom, Stevie Wonder mastered that label's distinctive fusion of pop and soul and then went on to compose far more idiosyncratic music &Number 8212; an ambitious hybrid of sophisticated Tin Pan Alley chord changes and R&B energy, inflected with jazz, reggae, and African rhythms. A synthesizer and studio pioneer, Stevie Wonder is one of the few musicians to make records on which he plays virtually all the instruments, and does so with both convincing technique and abandon. A lifelong advocate of nonviolent political change patterned after Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, Wonder epitomizes '60s utopianism while remaining resolutely contemporary in his musical experiments. ~ [Source: Rolling Stone]
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '419th Song of all Time' was "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" by Dr Dre. Dr Dre has not appeared in The Definitive 1000.
Other songs with reference to Stevie Wonder #428, #431, #451, #521, #563, #580, #583, #636, #655, #752, #753, #774
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number 74 and the Album ranked at Number 90
This song has a total Definitive rating of 78 out of 108
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

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