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Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

January 24, 2017

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Magnificent logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

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[Album 507/1001]

True/False: Less is more.220px-songs_in_the_key_of_life

Answer: False, at least in the case of 1976 Stevie Wonder.

A double album, Songs in the Key of Life, was an insufficient vessel for all of the great songs he was working on that year. A bonus EP had to be added to make room for the full 105 minutes of majesty!

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True/False: Less is more.

Answer: True, at least (hopefully) in the case of this review.

Songs in the Key of Life = Exceptional.

More words would only lessen its impact.

…..

Verbalize the Positive

I appreciate jprobichaud @ musicinsanity‘s countdowns, like his Best 100 of the 80s. It didn’t hurt that The Smiths & The Cure made appearances in the Top 10!

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From → 1970s

25 Comments
  1. “How can less be more? That’s ridiculous. More is more” – Yngwie J. Malmsteen

  2. Too sickly sweet for me, despite a few flashes of brilliance. The LP not the review!

    • I don’t know, my review was starting to get a little maudlin!

      Actually I have you to thank for the brevity of this one Joe – I remember your one word review of Sgt. Pepper, it felt like a similarly succinct review would be appropriate here!

      • Thanks Geoff, that is one of my favourite reviews. I was thinking of adopting a similar approach to Rolling Stones – Exile on Main street too.

      • But what single adjective to use for exile – I’m keen to read which one you choose!

      • I’m considering ‘gnarly’ as a good general all-purpose one to throw at it.

  3. fyfeopedia permalink

    I find this one a little weaker than Innervisions and Fulfillingness’ First Finale, but it’s still brimming with riches.

    • And I might put it between those two – either way, like you said, there are plenty of riches to be found!

  4. Love the less-is-more approach to this more-is-even-more album, Geoff. This should be in everyone’s collection (along with the 5 albums that preceded it). It’s the culmination of possibly the greatest run of albums in music history (and anyone who disputes that will have to keep in mind that he recorded them all by the time he was 26…and he’s blind. Checkmate…haha).

    I hope you don’t mind me linking to the post I wrote about seeing him perform Songs In The Key Of Life in 2014. You were kind enough to compliment my version of “I Wish” from when I was 10 years old when I posted it. Thanks again.
    https://kamertunesblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/stevie-wonder-in-concert-songs-in-the-key-of-my-life/

    • I remembered you’d recorded a Stevie tune, couldn’t remember which one – it was fun to hear again, great delivery especially on the ‘hoodlum friends of mine’ – thanks for sharing Rich!
      And Stevie may have gotten a record contract at age 11, but let’s not forget Rich(ie) was in the recording studio at age 10 😀

  5. Agreed Geoff! For me, Stevie was just unstoppable for a period of five outstanding albums starting with “Music Of My Mind” to this absolute gem. Few words fit can explain his genius and that perfect ly gives reason for the brevity of your review

    • I can’t imagine anyone disputing that unstoppable streak Stevie was on in the ’70s. I think that streak really started with 1971’s Where I’m Coming From, an overlooked classic. If those other five are 10/10 (which they are, of course), then that one was an 8.5 or 9.

      • And when a 9/10 represents a relative ‘low point’ – you’re on a roll!

    • Thanks Geoff (and thanks Rich too!) for your support of the less-is-more approach here! I was considering going track-by-track because I was so impressed but then decided, it would be redundant, it’s an exceptional recording overall, just leave it at that!

  6. Can’t argue with you there Rich. It’s an album that shows for the first time that Stevie was taking control of his artistry and direction.

  7. Don’t have this one. No plans to add it to the collection anytime soon, either… I’m afraid I just don’t love Stevie Wonder. Some great stuff, but it just doesn’t move me. That said, I do have a great ‘Little Stevie’ Greatest Hits LP.

    • Fair enough, I can see how he could fit into the appreciate over enjoy category.
      As long as ‘living for the city’ is on that greatest hits comp, that’s the main thing!

      • It’s not! This is old stuff… think it’s from the late 60s. Some great shuffling soul / R&B flavours on there.

  8. Gah! The same question has two (opposite) answers!

    Nevermind. Stevie FTW!

    • I’m currently reading 1984 – perhaps the same question having two opposite answers was an unitentional bit of doublethink!

      • Not sure you need to be reading that right now, Dude. Might be overkill, given the way things seems to be headed…

      • It was frightening reading at times, as the current leadership in the US seems to be using it almost like a playbook.

      • I used to read 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 every year. Now it isn’t necessary, I can just check the news. Frightening.

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