Stephen Chapman

The second incarnation of my blog

Rolling Stone top 100 albums: #90 Stevie Wonder – Talking Book

Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.

At number 90 is Talking Book by Stevie Wonder. It was recorded in 1972, amazingly his 15th album, as he was only 22 at the time. It was the second album where he had taken creative control of the arrangements, songwriting and also co-produced.

It opens with You are the sunshine of my life, a single that was successful around the world but is a little lightweight for me.  The next track, Maybe your baby however is a cool funky song, slightly reminiscent of songs from the Sly and the family Stone album that I reviewed for number 99.  I can hear the third track, You and I being the first dance at a few weddings with it’s super-sweet sentiment and arrangement.

The next couple of tracks are pleasant soul, which sounds a little like faint praise but really isn’t, because you then get to a true classic: Superstition is one of my favourite songs – it’s funky, rocking, full of melody and packed with soul.

There are some smooth soul songs that make up most of side 2, which I find a bit underwhelming, but the album ends with the beautiful I believe (when I fall in love it will be forever) that I would class as a bit of a forgotten gem that has been murdered by every cover version that followed.

The music is varied, melodic and sets a high standard that Stevie maintained for a few years. Any artist that produces a song like Superstition deserves much praise.

My rating: 7/10

Standout tracks: Superstition, I believe (when I fall in love it will be forever)

Listen to the album via Spotify here.

See the Top 100 here.

3 comments on “Rolling Stone top 100 albums: #90 Stevie Wonder – Talking Book

  1. Raybeard
    December 2, 2013

    I’m going to try and piggy-back with you as you make periodic ascending steps up the charts.
    This Stevie Wonder I was a bit disappointed with. I only knew the first and last tracks. There wasn’t much between which grabbed me – so I’d only give it a straight average 5 – though your comments make me think that it might be worth a re-listen.

    Btw: Trying to catch up with nos 91-100 I started with the Elton John, which I remember being released (subject of conversation in the office in which I then worked) but had forgotten that it was a double LP. There are several gems among the tracks which I didn’t know as well as just a very few less memorable ones which I wouldn’t care to hear again. But overall I’d be with you on a 7 (though if 1/2 points were allowed on your blog I’d be tempted up it further a notch.) It’s a really pretty good album.

    As for Zombies at 100 – 5 at most.
    And ‘Sly’ at 99 – oh please! Though I just don’t connect with this ‘sort’ of music – in my books it gets a 3!

  2. sfchapman
    December 3, 2013

    For me personally, when I come across an album I dont know, it needs 2-3 listens before I can make a judgement on it – good or bad.

  3. Raybeard
    December 3, 2013

    That’s fair comment. Time is the only limiting factor i.e. time to actually LISTEN to it rather than having it playing in the background while you’re also trying to read etc.

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This entry was posted on November 27, 2013 by in music and tagged , , .

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