July 27

My Stevie Wonder selection for this month is 1974s Fulfillingness’ First Finale:

This is Wonder’s 17 studio album and the 4th (or 5th, depending on who’s counting) of his so called “classic period”. Although featuring the dance floor hits Boogie On Reggae Woman and the scolding You Haven’t Done Nothin (featuring a chorus of doo doo wops from the Jackson 5), this record has a more introspective and somber tone on some tracks.

Particularly so was the ode to Rapture They Won’t Go When I Go.

I suppose Wonder can be forgiven for this tone, a year earlier a car accident landed him in a day’s long coma in the middle of one of the most creative periods of his life.

Another interesting note on Fulfillingness’ First Finale, it seemed to include more special guests and collaborative players than some of Wonder’s other more DIY records, including Paul Anka, Minnie Ripperton and Sneeky Pete.

My copy is only VG and a placeholder for when I find a less noisy version.

June 27

For this month’s Stevie Wonder post I took a listen to 1973s Innervisions:

His 16th album in 11 years, Mr. Wonder is nothing if not prolific! And super talented, here he plays all (or most all) of the instruments on six or these nine tracks.

I love this “classic” period of Stevie Wonder’s career; basically stretching from after the Motown sound of Signed, Sealed & Delivered, hinted at in Where I’m Coming From and going all funky/trippy through Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale and Songs in the Key of Life.

Innervisions deals with many subjects of the day; drugs, love, inequality, strife, religion and hope. There were hit songs off this record, Higher Ground and Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing, but the magnum opus Living For The City still rings true today.

The Standout for me is the jazzy Visions:

Have I lived to see the milk and honey land?
Where hate’s a dream and love forever stands
Or is this a vision in my mind?

May 13

After my first thrilling but terrifying Stevie Wonder encounter via Sesame Street, I became a fan. I even managed to scrape together enough cash to buy a bargain bin Songs in the Key of Life:

I still have mine. It plays a little noisy, but it’s complete… booklet, bonus 7″ and all.

I transferred portions of the album to 8-track. That tape and I were nearly constant companions… I even had a portable 8-track player, the kind with the handy “T” handle on top…

“Looks like a detonator, sounds like dynamite!”

I took this thing along on a school field trip to the nearby Spalding Mission historic site, blasting Sir Duke or I Wish in the back of the bright yellow school bus.

Somewhere along the way, to the chaperone’s great disappointment, I’m sure, the batteries faded and Stevie’s singing slowed to a crawl and failed. No matter, it was a beautiful spring day and there were plenty of activities to occupy young me. I set Stevie aside.

Halfway home I realized that I had left the player and tape somewhere back at the Mission… “Stop the bus! Go back!” I demanded. Already dark and chilly in the early spring, the cretins in charge declined to cooperate.

As I sulked and wept into the green vinyl of my Bluebird seat a warm glow overcame the drivers side of the bus… there was a huge fire that seemingly engulfed the whole of a giant paper mill, the largest employer in town! Even several hundred yards away and across a spring swollen river we could feel an intense heat from the flames.

With the bus pulled to the side of the road, we stared stupefied as local fire trucks, dwarfed by the leaping flames surrounded the blaze, closer than I could imagine.

Suddenly my loss seemed insignificant.

April 3

Stevie Wonder scared the shit out of me!

It was 1973. I was a worldly eight year old dutifully watching Sesame Street on one of the four channels available when up popped Stevie Freekin’ Wonder:

This may be the first time I can recall thinking to myself “what the fuck is this!

Who was this person? Why is he acting like that? Why are my hips moving like that?!?

After a commercial break, Stevie and Grover got together to freak me out even more:

Next up from the recent “estate” sale score, Stevie Wonder ‎– Talking Book:

I’ve loved that funky drum/Clavinet opening since I was first frightened by it in 1973. The rest of the record is bad assed too, mostly Stevie playing the bulk of the instruments with an occasional assist on guitar from people like Ray Parker Jr. (I believe that’s him there backing Stevie on the Sesame Street video) and Jeff Beck… how cool!

Here’s another Stevie doing the song, enjoy!