Friday, January 6, 2012

Final Grade: A/A-

This album was almost perfect.  I'm sure I'll get some shit for there being a minus anywhere near Stevie Wonder's name, but these weren't all my favorite songs of his.  They were all great, especially the first three, but I'm not head over heels with all of them (like I am with Innervisions).  Some of the synth sounds bothered me, but my brother, Taylor, explained to me that Stevie was one of the first to record them, so I like them more knowing they're "test runs."  That and the harmonica on "Girl Blue" are my only criticisms, and that's me being ├╝ber critical.  "Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)" is a masterpiece.  It seems as though he has absolutely no fear when composing, and it shows.  I love that about him - he takes his music to places you couldn't even imagine.  And his voice is heavenly.  I may actually choose another Stevie for this week...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Seems So Long

Keep on Running

Evil

Songs of the Day

Seems So Long:  Great spacey intro to this track - it really sets up the feel for the rest of the groove.  That synth just sounds like what spaceships sound like in movies - I can dig it.  I like that spaciness of the tune remains throughout, but becomes more subtle.  It would probably be a little overbearing if it was going on the entire song.  Each instrument has it's own part in the groove - they are separate from one another, yet they work great together.  Nice and slow, but with a steady backbeat.  Dig the vocal build up.  There's never really a need to comment on Stevie's vocals, because he always sounds fantastic.  I can get down with it.

Keep on Running:  You instantly get the title with this one, because the groove sets it off as if you should be running - much thanks to the repetition of the piano in the intro.  Really dig the funk groove it turns into - makes me wan to get down.  There is some crazy piano action going on in this one, which was rather surprising, but very entertaining.  It may be a slight hair too long, but not really, I'm just impatient right now.  Don't know how I feel about how sudden the ritard at the end is, but that's minor.  Solid funk.

Evil:  We have reached the ballad portion of the program - very fitting for a final tune.  I love the piano with the sustained bass.  Now, I love the composition of this, but I'm a little unsure of how I feel about the particular synth sounds he chose to use.  There's something about their tone that I feel are a little harsh for the groove, but that's me being particular.  I really like the vocal build up with the addition of the choir-esque background singers.  The ending chord threw me off, and I think it's cut off a little quick, but it's still solid.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sweet Little Girl

Happier Than the Morning Sun

Girl Blue

Songs of the Day

Sweet Little Girl:  Cool song to start the day off with.  I dig the saloon feel to this song, but I must say, I think I would like if there was less harmonica in it.  Not to say that I don't like Stevie on the harmonica, but I think it being in the entire song gives it a touch of corniness that I wish wasn't there.  I don't know why I feel that way, but it just bugs me a little bit.  Aside from that, I think the groove is pretty solid.  I especially dig the slow down section at the end - it's a nice subtle switch.  Stevie's sounding perfect as always.  Not my favorite Stevie groove (since there are so many greats to choose from), but it's solid nonetheless.

Happier Than the Morning Sun:  What a sweet, simple groove this is!  The title is super fitting to the groove - it makes me feel like sunshine...if that makes any sense.  I really like that it's just keys and bass with Stevie's layered vocals - it all makes for a nice intimate feel.  The vocal layers are very cool, and work great with the feel - it would be pretty empty without them.  The slow and steady bring down at the end is perfect.  What a lovely little tune - makes me happier than the morning sun :)

Girl Blue:  Man, I love slow tunes that are funky, and this is definitely one of them.  Stevie is definitely a fan of both the effect on the keys and on the vocals, as he's used them in multiple songs - I dig it, they make the funkiness of it all.  There are a lot of different instrumental layers going on throughout the song that give it a kind of weird/out-there flare, but I really dig that about it.  Short and to the point - I can dig it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Love Having You Around

Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)

I Love Every Little Thing About You

Songs of the Day

Love Having You Around:  Oh, what a funky way to start off the album!  I'm actually unfamiliar with this song, which excites me, and I definitely dig it.  There's a great weight from the get-go that only increases as the song continues, which is much thanks to the multiple layering of instruments/vocals going on - cool shit.  Love the group vocals in the chorus, they are most certainly funky.  Stevie has such entrancing voice, you really can't help but get pulled in by it.  His lyrical content is so simple, but so powerful - I really don't know how he does it.  I also don't know how he manages to make such long songs and not lose any steam in the groove - what a skill!  Funky couple of break downs at the end, but Stevie is the master of that (along with everything else musically).  Oh joy!

Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You):  Now, this song I am familiar with, but this is one of the billion popular singles of his.  I was actually unaware that the two halves of this song were made a whole, but I really like the combination of the two different tunes.  The "Superwoman" half of the song is filled with great harmonies (as all of his songs are) that sound oh so sweet to the ears.  Everything about this groove is very sweet, and just gets you in a prime music-listening mood.  The segway to "Where Were You..." is so seamless, you would never even know it happened.  What a great part of the song this whole section is.  The entrance of the guitar really helps build take the tune to a different place, and I think that really helps with the transition.   I also love the slight pick up this groove brings to the song as a whole - it's a little on the funkier side.  You can hear the angst in his voice, which really helps with the emotion of the tune.  Donny Hathaway does a great cover of this song, that should definitely be heard if you are unfamiliar - I could listen to both of them sing all day long.

I Love Every Little Thing About You:  Yay, another tune I'm unfamiliar with!  Very sweet track right here, one of those that just makes you smile.  I love how soft his vocals start out - they just pull you in.  The keys part on this one is pretty simple, which I like, and continues to build throughout the tune.  Stevie, you and those builds - they kick ass!  Really dig the group vocals in the chorus, they really add to the joyful feeling of the tune.  The background vocal percussion parts are pretty sweet too - nice to hear the voice not only being used for singing.  Solid, solid, solid.  Did I say already say "solid?"

Album Factoids

Music of My Mind

Released:  March 3rd, 1972
Genre: Soul/Funk
Label: Tamla
Producers: Stevie Wonder, Robert Margouleff, Malcolm Cecil

Week 65: Stevie Wonder

I think the time has come for me to review some Stevie Wonder.  He is by far one of my favorite musicians, but I haven't listened to enough of his albums in full.  Stevie is one of the most influential artists of all time, and has definitely played an integral part of my musical growing up.  I know a good portion of his music, but the majority of that knowledge is made up of singles and not full albums - with the exception of Innervisions, which is one of my favorite albums of all time - and I think it's time I add some more to my repertoire.  My parents were talking about this album the other day, and when looking at it, I can't say I know the majority of the songs by name, so I'm excited to expand my Wonder knowledge.  And I got my new Bose headphones to jam on...oh this is gonna be fun.

This Weeks Album...

I'm in need of some Stevie