Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Favorite Albums: Stevie Wonder's Talking Book

I remember in 1972, watching on ABC TV, a concert headlined by John Lennon called the One-to-One Concert. One of the other performers on the broadcast was Stevie Wonder, who delivered a great performance of the hit single, Superstition. The drum intro and funky key board playing (on a Hohner clavinet model C) was so cool to my 12-year-old eyes and ears.

My mother, always the hippest mom in the neighborhood when it came to music (and other things), had purchased the album the song was taken from, Talking Book. I had been familiar with Stevie Wonder from the radio; he already had a decade of hits, first under the moniker of Little Stevie, and then, Stevie Wonder. Such classics as Signed, Sealed, Delivered and My Cherie Amour made Wonder a household name.

Talking Book, like all of Stevie Wonder’s 1970’s output, is soulful, creative, and funky. My favorite songs on it are Superstition, You are the Sunshine of My Life, Maybe Your Baby, and I Believe When I Fall in Love With You it Will be Forever (the last song is played in the closing scene of one of my favorite non-action guy movies, High Fidelity). I love the funkiness of Tuesday Heartbreak, which has an upbeat tone and temp, inspite of the lyrics of love lost. Big Brother is a bold, radical, political statement from the African-American context.

Talking Book is a very highly rated album. Rolling Stone Magazine ranks it #90 among the Top 500 Albums of All Time, and they also give it Five Stars, as does Q Magazine and Allmusic.  Talking Book peaked at #3 on the Pop Albums chart, and became the first album for Wonder to top the Top R&B Albums chart where it remained for three weeks. Wonder won three awards for Talking Book at the 1974 Grammys: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for You Are the Sunshine of My Life, and both Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for Superstition.

Stevie Wonder has one of those iconic careers and prolific catalog of hits that make it difficult to say what his best album or best song are. But for me, Talking Book remains a personal favorite. 

Track Listing
1."You Are the Sunshine of My Life"  2:58
2."Maybe Your Baby"  6:51
3."You and I (We Can Conquer the World)"  4:38
4."Tuesday Heartbreak"  3:02
5."You've Got It Bad Girl" (Wonder, Yvonne Wright)4:59
6."Superstition"  4:26
7."Big Brother"  3:34
8."Blame It on the Sun" (Wonder, Syreeta Wright)3:26
9."Looking for Another Pure Love" (Wonder, Syreeta Wright)4:43
10."I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" (Wonder, Yvonne Wright)4:53
Total length:
Purchase Links for Talking Book:
Below is my Youtube playlist of four of my favorites from the Talking Book album. Enjoy!

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