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Stevie Wonder – Talking Book (1972)

December 31, 2014

[Album 362/1001]

“Who’s the best I often ponder right now, Stevie Wonder.  Let’s go.”
– Hockey Personality Don Cherry, from his ill-advised 1993 Rock ’em sock ’em Techno video

Mr. Cherry & I don’t typically agree but at least with his player assessment above, he was spot on.

In saying Stevie Wonder, he was referring to one of my heroes, Steve Yzerman.

Click the techno link above if you must.  When it comes to Cherry & music, I’d much rather watch him play the piano:

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Who was another good piano player, I often ponder?  In ’72, that other Stevie Wonder.

Good and beyond prolific that is; Talking Book is studio album #15(!) in his discography.

220px-Talking_Book

Still unimpressed?  He was 22 at the time of release.  Or to be fair 22 and 1/2.  Either way, still youthful enough to be measuring his age in fractions.

It’s no secret that this record is widely acclaimed.  It features a couple of his biggest hits & it kick-started his impressive streak of mid-70s albums.

There’s no questioning his talent in any of his roles here (Producer/Arranger/Writer/Lead & Background Vocals/Drums/Fender Rhodes/Hohner Clavinet/Moog Bass/Harmonica/T.O.N.T.O. Synthesizer/Piano) and that’s got to be some kind of record for multi-tasking!

Here’s what I find most impressive though about Talking Book: Wonder’s ability to repeat a phrase without it ever feeling repetitive.  Two instances come to mind:

1) Maybe Your Baby and 2) I Believe

In each case, he continuously re-states the song title.  I’d say ad nauseam but it somehow doesn’t get old (or remotely nauseating, thankfully).

With any other artist, it would feel like the record was broken or the cd was skipping.  The statistical enthusiast in me wanted to keep track of the exact number of repeats in each tune; unfortunately, I kept getting caught up in the music and lost track.

Which is probably how it ought to be.

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In the books of Don Cherry & yours truly, Stevie Wonder, the hockey player, was indeed the best at his game in 92/93.

Two decades earlier, was Stevie Wonder, the musician, the best at his game in 72/73?  Based on the back-to-back dynamic duo of Talking Book/Innervisions, I don’t know what Cherry would say but I wouldn’t disagree.

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From → 1970s

7 Comments
  1. It’s a disturbing idea, I know, but folk outside the US often don’t pay much attention to indigenous US sports. So, if you don’t mind I’ll pretend that those comments came from Don Cherry, the avant-garde trumpeter and father of Neneh, which makes the whole thing a little less bizarre for sure!
    Talking Book / Innervisions is a very good pair of albums. Many add in Fullfillingness’ First Finale as well, though I lean towards the one immediately before, Music Of My Mind.
    Cheers

    • That’s excellent to hear about Music of My Mind – Ian @ the80sdidntsuck had a good post recently about how tough it is to record 5 great consecutive albums.

      Hearing that Music of My Mind is a keeper, it sounds like Wonder can join that exclusive 5 in a row club.

      Neneh Cherry is on the list – raw like sushi I believe the album is called, I bought the cassette at some point in the past couple years. So yes, I support interpreting the comments as being from her dad!

      • That ‘Five in a Row’ idea is interesting – and testing – isn’t it? A pretty exclusive club for sure.

  2. ianbalentine permalink

    Amazing album. For me the definitive SW is Songs In The Key Of Life, but this ain’t far behind. And kudos for the Cherry opening. Growing up with him and Don McClean is a singularly Canadian experience!

    • My thanks Ian! Did SW make the cut for the 5-in-a-row club?

      • ianbalentine permalink

        Oh, most definitely! From Music Of My Mind to Songs IN The Key Of Life! Happy New Year!

  3. Stevie Wonder: BRILLIANCE. That is all.

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