The second incarnation of my blog
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.