Thursday, February 22, 2007

FDF Volume 1: Issue 46: Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

Album - Innervisions
Artist - Stevie Wonder
Key Players - Stevie Wonder (he pretty much did it all on all the tracks) a few others may have sung backup, or done some bass work but this was pretty much Stevie top to bottom.
Produced By - Stevie Wonder

Release Date - August 3, 1973

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- Part of the reason was to diversify this site...and cater to more broad readership. There were a few of his records that I could have done but this one seemed to be the one from "around this time of Stevies work" that I grabbed the it won by default.

Overview - During this period Stevie was giving James Brown a run as the hardest working man in showbiz. This was his third release (of a series of 5) that are heralded as his finest period. He was releasing about 1 album per year at this point and each was as good, if not better than the one before it. This particular album would win some Grammy Awards including album of the year in 1974. Rolling Stone also voted it as the #23 of the 500 Best Albums of all time in a 2003 issue.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The moog synthesizer heavy "Too High" begins the cd. The ride cymbal is heavily used and the slow, yet deeply funky track pulls you in. A track about drugs the lyrics speak of the dangers without being too obvious. "Visions" is a mellow track with almost swooping "jazz" guitar parts. There is a tad bit of Flamenco style guitar playing. "Living for the City" is really the first track on this album folks would identify as the "classic Stevie sound". A simple yet driving drum line with electric piano filtered over the top of the track. During the song there is a spoken word interlude that tells the story of a young man moving to the city and then getting framed for drugs. As vital a social commentary today as it was in 1973. "Golden Lady" opening with a swooping bass line and piano Stevie sings of love. The track is very strongly produced in that you can hear each of the instruments almost in front of one another without losing overall sound. "Higher Ground" probably the most known track of this album the organ/synth intro will get your groove on quick. Its got a bubbly bouncy keyboard line and it has a fantastic funk feel. "Jesus Children of America" follows and Stevie starts off singing in a low almost dark tone. The music is funk but his delivery of the vocals actually overshadows the track until he reaches the end of the first verse. "All in Love Is Fair" this particular track really showcases Stevies vocal abilities and range. "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing" has a Latin feel to it. If you have listened to any recent Santana records you'd pretty much think most of the ideas were borrowed from each other. You can't say stolen as they were both writing and recording at the same time. "He's Misstra Know It All" is a track written as an attack on President Nixon. Unlike artists today the song, a protest song, is sung calmly yet with loads of passion. One need not scream to have us hear you.

As a side note while looking into all this I found a web page that contains a masters thesis (all 296 pages) on selections from this record. Check it out here if you so desire.

Where are they now? - Stevie is still making music today. He has won 22 Grammy awards (dating back to 1974) and won a Grammy in 2007 for "Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals". He won this award with Tony Bennett. For some reason tours seem to elude Stevie but he will perform live at the Super Bowl or awards ceremonies. Stevies official site has not been updated since May of 2006.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- One of the few artists left that I feel I "need" to see live. Although I'd get a smattering of the old funk glory days those few moments would blow away the "soft rock" stuff that Stevie seemed to be doing in recent years.

FDF Overall Take - In all honesty if one needs to be told of his impact on music across the board we have a long LONG way to go. 90% of Stevies cds are less than $10.00 and any of this run from Music of My Mind right thru Songs in the Key of Life you really can't go wrong. Bag the Starbucks 4.00 coffees for 3 days and thank me on Thursday.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC! Note that Mp3s are usually taken down the following Thursday before 12noon ET. I do this to make sure I have room for the next weeks installment. So act fast.

***All MP3's are now removed****

He's Misstra Know-It-All
Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing
Higher Ground I just *had to*

All three songs/version taken from the studio release of "Innervisions". If you like/love it..need to have it
here is a place you can buy it.

This weeks bonus download...

Stevie Wonder Live at the Rainbow Theater, London England February 24, 1974

Contusion con't drum solo
Jam/Vocal Jam
Higher Ground
To Know you is to Love you
Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours
Stevie Speak->Visions
Stevie improv
You are the Sunshine of my Life intro
You are the Sunshine of My Life
Lot of My Dreams

Some notes - I am not sure how "in order" my cd copy was but this is how it laid out. It would be adventurous for any artist to start off a set w/2+ "instrumental" jam tracks. The "jam tracks" are the band as you'd imagine "jamming". The vocal jam and Stevie speak are what you'd think. Superstition is cool as it is a "hornless" version. The horn parts are sung at various points.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 10:41 AM, Blogger Annoyed said...

Good choice.

"Songs in the Key of Life" is a must own.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Cygirl said...

"Living For the City" is my absolute favorite Stevie song.


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