1974 was a great year for releases by musical legends, as my previous six Decades posts have shown. Imagine getting albums from Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Randy Newman and David Bowie all in the same year. Now add Stevie Wonder to that mix, and know I still have eight more posts to go. What a time that must have been for music fans!
Wonder’s 1974 release was Fulfillingness’ First Finale, his 17th studio album. This one won the Best Album Grammy the following year, one of three times Wonder won that award (he won all three in a four-year span, becoming the only artist in history to win Best Album for three consecutive releases).
One of my great musical shames is my inability to appreciate Stevie Wonder.
I understand why he’s considered a genius, and one of the most influential and accomplished artists of all time. I hear the intricacy in his melodies and instrumentation, and I marvel that he often played all the instruments himself. I pay my respects to a man who once won three Album of the Year Grammys during a four year span in the mid-70s, a feat nobody else has managed.
This week I’m looking at five more albums from 1973 that I know and like, but not as much as I know and like the five I covered last week. Next week I’ll get to albums I don’t know well at all.
Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions was his 19th album, released when he was just 23 years old. It came right in the middle of a five-year streak among the greatest of all time: Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life. I’m not a Stevie Wonder fanatic — I appreciate more than love his music — but the genius of that run of albums is undeniable.
Fate has arranged the Montauk Madness bracket in a way that led to today’s spetacular Motown Showdown, pitting Stevie Wonder against Michael Jackson.
Wonder defeated Talking Heads in Round One, pulling in a sizable 71% of the vote. Michael Jackson fared even better, defeating Belle & Sebastian with 86%. Poor Belle & Sebastian… a top five band for me, but destined to ride the pine in the broader contest. Continue reading
I’m curious to see how this vote goes. Stevie Wonder, an unquestioned musical genius and living legend, against Talking Heads, one of alternative music’s most innovative and influential bands.
This isn’t a tough call for me. I appreciate Stevie Wonder’s music more than I like it (don’t tell Michelle Obama!). Talking Heads, on the other hand, works for me on every level.