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Stevie Wonder

Innervisions

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By Bill DeMain  
artist

The third album in the 1970s’ creative eruption of Stevie Wonder is a dazzler, revealing the many facets of his genius. There is MOR Stevie, crooning ballads “All In Love Is Fair” and “Golden Lady.” Jazz-fusion Stevie sailing through complex changes and riffs on “Too High."  Latin Pop Stevie playing a fast-talking Romeo on “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing.” And for the first time ever, an overtly political Stevie, crying out on the hard-driving “Higher Ground” and “Living For The City.”

Lines such as “To find a job is like a haystack needle / ‘Cause where he lives they don’t use colored people” were miles from the genteel sounds Stevie was making just three years earlier. Not only was he pulling brilliant songs out of thin air like a musical Merlin, he was also producing, arranging and playing nearly every instrument on the record, including drums. Innervisions also marked Stevie’s full-on embrace of electronic instruments. Tutored by synth masters Malcolm Cecil and Bob Margouleff, Stevie quickly seduced the wire-sprouting Moogs, ARPs and Clavinets into doing his soulful bidding. Check out the futuristic “Visions” to hear how even transistors and circuitboards can have hearts. Along with Talking Book, Fulfillingness First Finale and Songs In The Key Of Life, this record is a milestone in R & B music, as vital today as it was when it first appeared.

Musician and journalist Bill DeMain writes frequently about music. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Entertainment Weekly, MOJO, and Musician.