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Living To Music – Stevie Wonder ‘Innervisions’

ARTIST: STEVIE WONDER

ALBUM: INNERVISIONS

LABEL: TAMLA

YEAR: 1973

This Sunday (Feb 6th), at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. Full lowdown here:
http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2010/06/living-to-music/

If there’s a record from the 1980’s that I wished hadn’t have been released it’d have to be Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ (1984), a multi-million selling single that topped the charts throughout the world and won him an Academy Award in the process (for best original song – it was in the film ‘The Woman In Red’).

It was huge, way too huge, becoming the song that many people would instantly think of in connection with this great artist. This is a travesty when you consider all his recordings of the 60’s, especially the 70’s, and on into the early 80’s. The somewhat syrupy sentimentality of ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ simply doesn’t reflect this musical icon, yet this is the tune that a new generation would most associate with him and, as a consequence, Stevie Wonder was no longer cool.

Down the years I had a number of conversations with younger heads who were completely unaware of his 70’s output (with perhaps the exception of ‘Superstition’ and some of the singles from ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’). They simply had no idea of his status as one of the most groundbreaking artists of the popular music era. This was because the songs that immediately sprung to mind when they heard his name were the dreaded ‘I Just Called To Say I Loved You’ and the well meaning, but uber-cheesy ‘Ebony And Ivory’ duet with Paul McCartney (both UK number 1’s). They’d never really looked at him as anything more than someone who made the odd catchy tune – he certainly wasn’t on their credibility radar.

So, with this in mind, I implore those of you who’ve never heard ‘Innervisions’, or any of the other albums of his ‘Classic Period’ (‘Music Of My Mind’ (1972), ‘Talking Book (1972)’, ‘Fulfillingness’ First Finale’ (1974) and ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ (1976)), to set aside all pre-conceptions and allow yourself to discover a quite breathtaking body of music.

I loved Stevie Wonder from way back - my brother or sister had bought most of his UK singles, so tracks like ‘I Was Made to Love Her’, ‘For Once In My Life’, ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘My Cherie Amour’, ‘Uptight (Everything’s Alright)’ and ‘Angie Girl’, were ingrained in my consciousness before the 60’s had even ended.

As we moved into the 70’s, with Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ taking black music to a new level of artistic expression, Stevie Wonder, still only in his early twenties, was there to grasp the baton, demanding artistic freedom from his record label and getting it, then seizing the moment and becoming, for many people, the quintessential recording artist of the entire decade – right on the cusp of things both musically and lyrically.

This confidence is clear to the ear on ‘Innervisions’, with Stevie exploring the social and spiritual with a real air of authority. Not only the writer, producer and arranger, but an incredibly gifted musician, who played the majority of what you hear on the album, including every instrument on ‘Living For The City’, ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Jesus Children Of America’. Quite remarkable really!

Your own memories are always welcomed, and, should you join us for Sunday’s session, it’d be great if you could leave a comment here after you’ve listened to the album sharing your impressions – how the music affected you, who you listened to it with, where you were, plus anything else relevant to your own individual / collective experience.

Innervisions Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innervisions

Living To Music Facebook Event Page:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=140019196059179

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30 Responses to Living To Music – Stevie Wonder ‘Innervisions’

  1. MadameFLY February 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Songs in the Key of Life - "As" ... this one still turns on all my lights ... for me, this is the essential Stevie Wonder. Looking forward to re-experiencing Innervisions on Sunday...

  2. Marmon February 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    Thanks to DJ's, the internet, worldwide communication and a culture of openness and curiosity, i truly believe that phenomena like "I Just Called to Say I Love You" are a thing of the past. Having grown up in the 90's, I can tell you that song is the last thing i associate with Stevie. His sound as a whole and his legacy are what is retained. I think modern artists would do well to emulate this, because the era of the mega-hit was a short one in terms of history, and it's over now. Building a unique sound that will retain attention and respect over time should be the goal of every artist, and I am happy to say that they can all continue to look at Stevie for inspiration in this pursuit.

  3. Matt February 2, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Growing up my father was in to some of the more "sugar coated" Motown of the late 60's and 70's. Songs in the Key of Life somehow slipped through the net and became our "Sunday album". it was played almost constantly when my Dad got his first expensive Hi-Fi & it's one of the few vinyls that I "borrowed" from my Dad when I left home. It will always remind me of happy, carefree days & Stevie has a very special place in my heart for that and for Innervisions that I discovered when I developed my own musical tastes.
    Yet another great choice Greg.

  4. dancing james February 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    The comments about the schmalty singles of the 80's from Stevie ring totally true with me.

    It was Carl Craig's "Stevie Knows", the Songs in the Key of Life documentary and Patrick Forge and Phil Asher who managed to educate me. Those early albums are just stunning, his love for new technology is so clear.

    It has just been such a pleasure to sit back and make the time to listen to this in its entirety. So much of it has been pillaged for cheeky samples, so clearly people have been paying attention for a while.

    This was a riot of memories to listen to and reminds me of too many nights out dancing to some of the most uplifting Motown classics. Hearing a crowd singing Don't You Worry About a Thing on a Friday night at the NHAC is an abiding memory.

    A perfect way to close my Sunday, thank you.

  5. Nicky Martin February 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    I do love Innervisions, and yet I rarely listen to it. I really enjoyed just lying on my bed with my headphones on and being transported to another place :) Great choice for tonight x

  6. Lou Lou February 7, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    This is an album I really love and only got onto after the Chilli Peppers cover of "Higher Ground". Funnily enough, Stevie's Higher Ground was on the radio in work the other day and one of my colleagues, who's 22, asked if that was the original, so I'm not the only one to find the wonderful Mr Wonder through this route. I do remember well the cheesy tracks, but being quite young at the time, I really loved them. However, I am so glad I found his other work too.

    The man is a genuis. Who else can play so much and write so beautifully? I loved the change from "Living for the city" to "Golden Lady". The bass line just carried me away and had the hairs standing on the back of my neck

    I couldn't work out what all the crazy sounds were being made by and loved the building effect and intricacy in each track. Gotta say, "Don't you worry 'Bout a Thing" makes me smile broadly. All's well with the world.

    I had a lovely evening sharing this with friends and listening on an excellent sound system (thanks G!) It always amazes me, the quality of what you can hear when you have the opportunity.

    Thanks again for another great choice Greg. what's next, what's next ? ;)

  7. TC February 7, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Out of all the Living to Music albums, this is the one I had the most trouble with with regards to curtailing my wanting to sing along. It's layers upon layers of riffs are simply infectious!
    In "Jesus Children of America" I was struck for the first time that this song seemed to be referencing The Beatles, "Come Together", both in vocal production and lyrical style and just as I was thinking this the line "Transcendental meditation...." came in as if to confirm it! I'd never noticed that before. Once again proving that active listening reveals a little more than we hear on a surface level. Still my big fave is "Living just enough for the city", however last night listening to "all in love is fair" I changed my opinion on this track. I used to find this a little cheesy but, whilst it is a traditional big ballad, the schmaltz is forgiven as Stevie's voice sounds so powerful and heartfelt on it.
    It was great to have so many mates round to share the experience with. It lifted my spirits.
    The riff I was still singing on my way to bed? "Don't you worry 'bout a thiiiiiiiiiiiing!" I won't Stevie, I won't! :)

  8. Chris Hayes February 7, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I must have listened to this album over 1000 times since I first heard my big sister play Golden Lady when I was around 10 years old. Yet still last night I heard new things. I was so impressed by the simply colossal amount of ideas crammed in there. This is music as an explosion of creativity, something to compare with Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Bach and Mozart at their most fecund. Trying to deconstruct it is interesting - see this link to a great show by Howard Goodall: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlh6H65B5ls - but to be honest rather misses the point. Listen to it as a whole; let the words, melodies and rhythms swirl around you, and marvel at it. This is proof of how far man has come since we first crawled out of the ocean. I wonder how much further we can go? Or like the great Greek and Roman civilisations of the past will we implode and regress back to a more primitive form of living? All very profound for a Monday morning! But that's what this album does to you.

  9. bigd-ek February 7, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Hi Greg,

    I came across your site after watching the morning news item on "Classic Album Sundays" and have been greatly anticipating yesterday evening's listen to "Innervisions" by Stevie wonder.

    Sunday night at 9pm is an ideal time you have selected for this enterprise - our 3 year old was safely tucked up & asleep shortly after 8pm and my wife kindly offered to retire early to bed to read a book, leaving me sitting with all lights out in our living room to listen with headphones to the album in sensory deprevation darkness.

    I read an article in the Sunday Times a few years ago, where a journalist referenced this album as a reason why the MP3 generation were missing out on the enjoyment of listening to albums in their complete whole. He particularly referred to MP3 users cherry picking famous tracks such as "Living for the City" and "Higher Ground" and missing out on the intermediate track "Golden Lady". This ties in very nicely with your setting up these Living to Music evenings and incorporating this particular album for our listening pleasure.

    Stevie Wonder was definitely firing on all cylinders at this point in his career and there is absolutely no filler on this particular album. The overall effect sent me of to bed with a feeling of intense well being with the infectious hook of Mistra Know-it-all playing on a continous loop in my head - a wonderful experience and re-introduction to an album I haven't listened to for far too long.

    Thanks for the concept and keep up the great work - really looking forward to your next choice of album?

  10. Brian E February 7, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Sharing this experience with a group of friends was good and from the first track heads were moving, feet were tapping and we were obviously in for a good night! It's amazing to think that Stevie wrote all of the album, played on the majority and produced most of it himself.

    I think a guy called Robert Margouleff produced the first two tracks (not wrote them as I thought). I really like the chords and chord sequences here (Too High & Visions). Also particularly liked the ride cymbal patterns coming from the right hand speaker on 'Too High'.

    Love the Stevie Wonder sounds of Clavinova on 'Higher ground' and Fender Rhodes on 'Living for the City'. Sounds that are now associated with Stevie Wonder.

    'Wondered' (no pun intended) about the track 'Misstra Know it all'. Although totally different in style from The Beatles 'Fool On The Hill' that kind of 'moral message' is the same in both and I think I did hear Beatles influences in this track which I hadn't really been aware of before.

    Loved 'Don't Worry about a thing with the 'Montuno' piano and Cuban influence!

    I can't recall listening to any Stevie Wonder albums all the way through before now.
    It was a really good night so thanks to Greg for another Classic Album listening experience.

  11. Phil Wardle February 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Stevie Wonder and I don't really work well together....or so I thought. When I first heard about the Classic Album group listening to Innervisions I wasn't over enthusiastic. Oh, how wrong can a man be?!
    From the opening bars of 'Too High' with the lush close vocal harmonies through to ‘He's Misstra Know-it-all’ the album was like a treasure chest of delights, each track having its own unique style and sound. I really liked the somewhat dated synth in ‘Living For The City’ – the sound certainly sets it at a point in time back in the 1970s. 'Golden Lady' - wow!
    I had heard the album tracks many years ago but paid very little attention to them. I was wrong, This album is a gem and is one that I will be revisiting again and again over the next few weeks. I think I have got Stevie Wonder wrong for all of these years…sorry, Stevie (but why you did ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Ebony and Ivory’ I’ll NEVER know)!!

  12. minibreakfast February 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Wow, Phil (above) has said just what I feel too - on hearing what this month's album was to be, I wasn't too excited. I am familiar with Stevie's big hits and can see why he's so popular and respected but would never have normally listened to one of his albums. Can't really pinpoint why though. Nevertheless in the spirit of musical adventure I bought an old LP copy of Innervisions from eBay and boy am I glad I did! It's a stunning mix of funk, soul, totally cheese-free love songs, and so much more. I love the way the tracks collide into one another, providing a few seconds of gorgeous contrast, for instance as the crescendo of Living For The City falls away into the first quiet piano notes of Golden Lady. It is now a treasured part of my record collection. I could go on and on but I want to get my giant headphones back on, lie down and re-enter the world of Innervisions once again. Thank you Greg, you have another convert. Can't wait to hear what you have in store for us next month!

  13. Nadia February 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    Harmony and dissonance so close together. I think this album is so convincing because he understands the worst of people but still believes in their best. For anyone who has ever been fooled by a smiling face.

  14. greg wilson February 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    So happy that some people, despite their misgivings, put aside their preconceptions and gave the album a listen. This is Living To Music at its very best, revealing the gravity of true artists to people who might otherwise never have considered them to be anything out of the ordinary. As I said in the post, Stevie Wonder, due to his 80's output, suffers more than most, having been dismissed as irrelevant by so many people who weren't around to hear his groundbreaking work in the 70's. It's only on making this discovery that you can fully appreciate why he's considered to be one of the all-time greats.

  15. cezza February 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I always look forward to all the LTM sessions, never allowing myself to play a note of the album beforehand. That way im refreshed with a new album each month, reminding me of my younger days when I would go out buy albums and have them playing for days, thats what im getting from these sessions, as well as hanging out with great friends. Its funny as someone gave me the 'best of' Stevie Wonder album about 10 years ago, and I would flick through those well known tracks to his older stuff. The music is pure class, my favourite has to be 'visions in our minds' that actually feels quite healing to me. Living in the City, was something I had never really 'heard' as the full track is rarely played and did I ever get onto those pure cuban grooves of 'Dont you worry bout a thing'?!!. Thanks again for reminding me of another top class artist, its a truly wonderful gift each month.

  16. King Canute February 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    It actually quite exciting sitting down and re-appraising Innervisions from beginning to end. All of Stevie’s most acclaimed output was made before I was 10 years old, so I, like many others, came to the LPs late. In my formative teenage years I was aware of the, then contemporary stuff like “I Just Called” and “Ebony and Ivory”, songs which I won’t slate hear, they were of their time. The saddest thing about them is what I call the “Fever Pitch” effect, though I’d argue against snobbishness generally, I still feel the need to go all evangelical on Stevie’s other work and it turns you into a bit of a bore. Courtesy of old Motown greatest hits records and tapes belonging to my family, I was aware of Stevie’s 60s work too, but the period I knew nothing about was the period that I later found to be Stevie’s most successful in terms of creativity, the 1970s.

    “Songs In The Key Of Life” was my way in, and I still have great affection for it, I then bought “Music of My Mind” and then “Innervisons.” It is this LP that, thanks to Greg Wilson’s “Living To Music” project I listened to on Sunday night.

    Now let’s get right on down to the skit…..Stevie is a genius, even people who are not fans may have heard the old “Little Stevie played every instrument in the Motown studio aged 11” story, and must admit, that is pretty special for a blind kid, who must have had limited educational opportunities. He is an amazing songwriter, musician and politician. But what of Innervisions?

    It is a great LP, and one which demands to be listened to as a whole, sure the singles are good, but the whole LP just “makes sense”. “Too High” is as jazzy as some of the crossover stuff that came out of Blue Note at the same time, in fact I’d dare say that it is closer to jazz in it’s changes and delivery than much of those great Mizell bros LPs from Donald Byrd et al. The harmonica solo is wonderful and the way it skips around the chord changes adds a very funky jazzy edge to the whole thing.

    “Visions” continue this jazz theme and the vocal is delivered in a beautiful reflective style. Stevie must have spent all his time thinking, writing playing. Thinking, writing playing. Again and again until he had knocked out all those 70s LP. Genius? Hard worker too.

    I’m less keen on the more funky numbers like “Living For The City” (there, I said it), it is not that it isn’t great, the whole decade of Stevie is superb, it is just that I like my funk served up a little different. Still a great song though, and rounds things up nicely before my favourite track, “Golden Lady”. Listening to it for the first time in years gets me reaching for the player credits on the sleeve. That bassline is 100% James Jamerson, but….. hang on….. it’s a moog isn’t it? Damn straight it is, and Stevie is playing it. And Fender Rhodes, and drums. And no doubt the other synth parts and goodness knows what else. Did I mention he was a genius. It’s a great song all the way to the key changes on the fade out. Takes me right away.

    This would normally be the point where the vinyl is flipped except for the fact that Innervisions is a cursed album for me. I have two dodgy UK vinyl copies, one with a nasty scratch on side a, one with a jump on side b. So I bought a CD (two for a tenner at Asda), that skips on the last two tracks having spent some time under the passenger seat of my car, so I’m listening to a CD copy up to the last two tracks, then getting on the youtube express to save dusting off the dodgy vinyl.

    Back to (ahem) Side b. I’ll take back what I said earlier about Stevie’s funky stuff. The way that clav kicks in on “Higher Ground” is funky like grandma’s bloomers, and Stevie is playing all the instruments on here. Not the most clever lyrics Stevie has ever produced, but the bit where he goes “I’m so darn glad he let me try it again” is a very catchy relief from the kind of call/response lyric form of the rest of the song.

    The great synth work continues on “Jesus Children Of America” Stevie must have been doing as much as anyone to promote synth music, and this LP sold shedloads, bringing Avant Garde to the masses, with a little preaching and questioning thrown in, and a nod to the Beatles if I’m not mistaking. Round about 3min 40secs the song goes into very funky shuffle before fading out and into All In Love Is Fair”, a sad and contemplative love song that shows Stevie’s songwriting maturity. Don’t know how old he was in 1973 (I avoid googling when writing these), but he’s bloody convincing as a man who’s lived a long eventful life. It builds like the kind of ballad you might expect someone like Barbra Streisand to have used as a big showstopper, and in some ways it signals a change of mood on this LP too.

    “Paris Peru, Iraq Iran,” I’ve listened to the start of “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” loads of times and I’m still not sure exactly what relevance it has to the rest of the song, perhaps someone can explain. Lovely percussion work and shuffling Latin jazz piano work underpin the soulful vocals and lift the mood perfectly from the previous track ready for the LP closer, “He’s Misstra Know-It –All.”

    Nixon? Berry Gordy? Someone better read than me can elucidate I’m sure. And why “Misstra?” I’ve never heared the word “Misstra” in any other context? Perhaps that is just my limited travel experience, I doubt they call people “moosh” in Detroit like we do here in Pompey. What I do know is that this is a great way to close an LP. It’s an uplifting mid-tempo soul song with some classic Stevie scatting.

    So there it is, “Songs In The Key Of Life” is still my personal favourite for reasons more to do with nostalgia and packaging than musical content (yeah, that’s shallow!), but this is without doubt a more rounded “package,” in equal parts challenging, reassuring and soothing. The way that Stevie uses synths and plays so many of the other instruments himself is astounding, the writing is great, even the artwork seems to fit the mood of the LP perfectly. Thanks Greg for organising the event, I have copied this write up onto my blog, please check it out:

    http://kingcanutesrecordclub.blogspot.com/

    “Songs In The Key” same time next year perhaps?

  17. avo68 February 9, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Close your eyes ... and you're almost there. This album captures the atmosphere and heat of the streets which gave birth to this legend of soul. So smooth So rich. It drips genius.

  18. UKDJD February 10, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    Gotta love Stevie Wonder! All of his songs remind me of growing up.. ahh

  19. Alexis February 11, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    I have always been a Stevie Fan, his freaking amazing vocal range, skill and tone, astound me, make me holler and squeal like a teenager.
    Got two versions of this album, and decided to play the re-mastered blah, blah, blah.
    Doesn't change my mind, it's sublime.
    Many tracks I have skipped over time but like most of the above comments, I appreciated Golden Lady and All in Love, like I never have before.
    By Don't You Worry, I had cranked the volume and could not sit down or shut up (poor neighbours and the reason why I listen alone).
    He talks too much, he worries me to death.
    Kin Genius x

  20. phillipa S February 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    Hi am the same as Alex..can't sit still or keep my mouth shut so have to 'listen' alone'...and this is certainly one can't sit still to...A great album Greg.. won't comment too deeply..just loved it XXX

  21. phil hongkins February 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Hi greg no missgivings on ur latest choice for me got it when it was releasd, boss album for a man who dont see to well he dont miss much does he,?? i have allways loved the way the "wonder boy" has been right on the money . wether he is commenting on social issues, police brutality, racism, making dr KINGS birthday a national holiday , he has stood up on numerous occasions for the people @ the bottom.
    there is so much more to stevie than just great music, for me his lyrics are magic, sad, happy , uplifting,etc and innevrvisions came along at a time when he was in overdrive america was a bad place for most blacks in the early 70s, his comments on life in the usa , his countries involvement in wars far far away , his feelings as a black man in those times can be found in his words , and while he did pop out some top of the pops stuff he belongs to the world not just us , and if ebony and ivory leads people to "golden lady" or higher ground. jesus people of america then so be it , his back catalogue is quite phoenominal, he can not be put in a single catagory, he is quite simply AMAZING an allways has been . fingrtips was the 1st tune i heard 68 or 69 and i was a fan still am .

  22. Dave McGinn February 17, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Went to the 'Classic Album Sundays' listening at the Hanbury Arms in Islington. Great to hear this played from original vinyl on a very serious hifi system. The experience reminded me more of cinema than the way I have been listening to music these days. Amazing depth compared to the way that only the top-line riffs break into your consciousness when you're listening on inadequate earbuds, navigating the tube system, eating a croissant, drinking a coffee, thinking about your schedule and trying to avoid eye contact.
    Packed room of people with their eyes closed. A deaf person looking in could be forgiven for thinking it was a meditation class or religious cult. The only irritation was the foot tapping. Here I am floating into an all consuming dimension of soul hypnosis, and some douche's floor-vibrato is tying me to reality. I love a foot tap like anyone, but in this environment it's equivalent to thinking Maria Callas' performance would be improved by your singing along from the front row.
    Had a great time and my uninitiated companion enjoyed it so much we went home and listened to the album three times in a row. Not in silence though.

  23. Brian February 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    This album reminds me so much of Marvin Gaye's Whats Going On? In fact they compliment eachother. Both are around the same time (ok give or take a few years) both kind of blend from one track to the next. Both have a message of hope and despair.

    It's definitely on my TO BUY list.

  24. versionsporadic February 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    "The only irritation was the foot tapping. Here I am floating into an all consuming dimension of soul hypnosis, and some douche's floor-vibrato is tying me to reality."

    Hey Dave, me thinks you're taking things a tad too seriously.

  25. Paul Wright February 23, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    Before listening to this album I contemplated on my experiences of Stevie Wonder. I can categorically say that I have known and loved many of his songs stretching right back to my childhood. Bizarrely I have never directly bought or owned any of his tracks. Even upon checking compilations, I have none. I have amassed quite a few mix tapes, cds and mp3's over the years and it is partly here where my interaction with this genius began. I have also experienced many a club night and late nights back at friends. Through a combination of childhood and adulthood experiences I have grown to love tracks such as 'happier than the morning sun', 'for once in my life' and 'cherie amour', to name just a few.

    In the last six months or so I have bought a couple of edits on vinyl: Wonderboots by situation (a brilliant blend of Uptight (everything is alright) by Stevie Wonder and Moonboots by ORS, both incredible tracks in their own right); and Superstitious edit by Todd Terje.

    Fairly recently I have also caught Stevie Wonder edits on soundcloud: Superstitious (edits by both Pied Piper and Sparky), Higher Ground by scratchandsniff, and signed sealed delivered by the owl.

    This album presented a few familiar tracks to me, the rest I had never heard before. It was interesting reading some of the comments regarding similarity/synergy to Beatles tracks. Being a Beatles nut myself I was surprised I didn't pick up on this. I was, however, blown away by the production and how polished this album was....I also felt a huge amount of emotion and love..all of this ties closely with the Beatles for me. This album has incredible jazz, funk, motown, piano and so much more, it gleans pure quality. The songs, lyrics, vocals and instrumentals are some of the best I've ever heard....

    Too high- the album launches off into an incredible funky journey...the synth had a great funky jangly sound, with a distorted edge. The effects on Stevie's voice are kinda cool too. The song is clearly about drugs and being rather off it, some of the negative aspects are covered too. A fair bit of nodding commenced very quickly with this track! Wicked harmonies, quality harmonica section and a lovely jazzy feel to instrumental parts.

    Visions- Very gentle serene start to this, lovely acoustics and a very heartfelt sweet message of people coming together and being free. It can be done, do what we need to do to reach this vision. The guitars have a angelic/harp sounding essence to them. Live your life in the summer, it can be done......

    Living for the city- great synth work that drives a great funky backing to Stevie's song, it pulls the song back to the groove again and again. Lots of dars with high pitched synth...towards the end almost screaming out the feeling for the message. The song has great vocals and at times brilliant vocal doubling. There are some sounds of living in the city. Some angry/sorrowful vocals in here.

    Golden Lady- Gorgeous piano intro into sweet harmonious backing, the track also has a lovely flutey feel to me. Lovely lovely sweet lyrics like only Stevie knows how. I had never heard this before, such a beautiful song. Top bongo percussion melds to great effect with Stevie's vocal, the piano, bass and percussion....Wow! Piano and hammond combine..more wow! An incredible, uplifting track, key shifts done with style.....

    Higher Ground- This really feels like Stevie is shouting a message here. The track has lovely complex runs and interplay that are also very funky! Keep pushing, keep going...we will get there

    Jesus Children of America- almost a bluesy feel to this track. loads of emotion and vocal expression as ever...great warbling synth work. The song has awesome piano and a haunting feel to the lyrics...a very powerful expression of music and song, found myself with goose bumps and welling up at times listening to this for the first time....great track!

    Don't You Worry About A Thing- I knew this track but had never appreciated the latino intro and feel properly before. Very interesting lyrics. This song is so uplifting, what a great philosophy! Quite mad descending key changes, coming off the the trip. Lovely harmonies and top chorous, fantastic latino piano fusing with excellent percussion. My favourite from the album without a doubt.

    He's Misstra Know It All- Feelin a bit sad knowing this was this last track of the album! Another awesome, lovely song...very rounded track, a hint of bongos..great! So simple and yet so effective.

    This listening experience blew me away and left me wanting to go dig more Stevie Wonder...cheers Greg!

    All the best
    Paul

  26. Paul Wright February 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Coming back to check Greg's recommendations for more Stevie Wonder listening I noticed a few things. My first post seems to have occurred at a roughly palindromic moment!

    I should have mentioned that last summer I randomly flicked over the box and caught Stevie Wonder's appearance at Glastonbury 2010, it was superb!

    I'd also got so carried away that I had failed to mention All In Love Is Fair- so for completeness......another fairly simple and yet incredibly powerful track. Gorgeous atmospheric piano and vocal with subtle percussion. Fate can be good or bad.....war is so cold....all is fair in love......absolutely wonderful stuff and very beautiful song.

    Oh yeah, superstition not superstitious...ha ha! :)

    Cheers
    Paul

  27. Amanda C March 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    As a person who grew up in the era of 'cheesy' Stevie, I was converted by this album.

    In the deep-listening environ of the LTM experience, I was touched by the passionate, imaginative, socio-political narrative of his lyrics, the extraordinary versatility he shows as a multi-instrumentalist, and above all, the overwhelming purity of his voice.

    What a voice!

    The title 'Innervisions' is especially poignant for me given that the portraits he paints so vividly - 'her skirt is short but oh her legs are sturdy/her clothes are old but never are they dirty' - are things that he can only see with his 'Inner Vision...' Genius.

  28. Chris April 3, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    Stevie is great but never forget Donny Hathaway!

  29. Y.V July 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    First of all, sorry for my bad english. I'm brazilian and writing this with google translator.:)
    I'm 32 years old and how my favorite song ("I Can't Help It") by my favorite Michael Jackson solo album ("Off The Wall") was written by Stevie Wonder (which I've very pleased with "Ribbon in the Sky"), it makes me interested in to hear a full album from him.
    So, about a month, I downloaded "Innervisions" without know nothing about this work. In the very first auditions, I was immediately impressed with the songs, all of them, including the sequence with which they give! Wow!!!
    Since my teenage, any album had did it to me! I hear it everyday and trying to translate and memorizing the lyrics. I also have searching about the work and the author, which only became richer hearing. Yesterday I started listening to "Songs in the Key of Life" (CD 1) and felt that I'll love it too.
    Today I find this blog, read this comment and want to give my testimony. Thank you!

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