Stevie Wonder

Tamla, 1973

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


It's always gratifying when a master artist resumes his or her work. This is certainly the case with Stevie Wonder, who has returned to the music scene with A Time To Love, released a few weeks ago. Listening to that album sparked a mini-Stevie Wonder marathon for me.

Let's first start off with the obvious; Stevie Wonder is a brilliant musician. The albums he recorded from Talkimg Book to Hotter Than July contain some of the most brilliant music of the '70s. Innvervisions is no exception; there are some truly staggering moments to be found. However, no matter how many times I've listened to the album, there are certain spots that fail to do anything for me.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Unfortunately, some of those spots come at you right away. "Too High" and "Visions," are not awful songs; both of them sound good, but there are some Wonder tracks you just lock into and feel, and that didn't happen with these two. Something about "Too High" comes off a little stilted and "Visions" is a standard ballad, albeit with some pretty guitar strumming thrown in.

Once the first two tracks are finished, then one can get to the good stuff. "Living In The City," has to be in the all-time Top Five of Stevie's songs. His sneering vocals, the menacing synthesizers riffs, the mini-play put on during the last few minutes, and the thundering gospel-inspired ended are breathtaking to listen to. Not many artists could capture the sense of social despair that Wonder could, but he pulls it off.

The gorgeous "Golden Lady" immediately follows, allowing for some of Stevie's best vocal work on the album. Then of course, comes "Higher Ground." Man alive, if you could define funk with one song, this would be it. There's no way to resist its bouncing beat and strong rhythm.

The aforementioned songs were favorites of mine from the very first listen, while some were growers. "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing," was one such track. However, I was quickly won over by its Latin-inspired beat and the incredibly catchy refrain. While the subject material is a little bleak, "Jesus Children Of America," most definitely falls under the category of a "deep track." The social indignation Wonder expressed during "Living For The City" is reprised here, except the tone is much harsher. Mix that with the sound of "Higher Ground," and you've got a standout track.

I really wanted to give this album an "A" but there are a few songs that just don't sit with me. However, don't let that stop you from picking up Innervisions. There are plenty of brilliant bits that make you sit up and wonder how it's possible one man can be so gifted.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A



© 2005 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tamla, and is used for informational purposes only.