The Stevie Wonder albums from the 1970s are things of wonder and delight. Grown up from his “Little Stevie” days, they are complex and nuanced, political and funky.
We had Talking Book at home – the cover etched into my brain with Stevie in his long robe sitting in the dust, the typography surrounding. But rules is rules and that was 1972, and I wanted some Nick Drake.
So instead we turn to Songs in the Key of Life, one of Wonder’s double albums of the period. The blissful (if verging on cheesy) Isn’t She Lovely, the cod-Big Band of Sir Duke, the haunting Pastime Paradise (to be made more famous though Coolio’s sampling in later decades), the funk of Contusion. There’s soul. There’s Latin influence. And he was delivering stuff like this year after year in the 70s.
You can see the #51for50 project to date here: https://mmitii.mattballantine.com/category/projects/51-for-50/