Wonder, Stevie

Band members               Related acts

- Stevie Wonder - vocals, keyboards, percussion



- none known



Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Title:  Songs In the Key of Life

Company: Tamla

Catalog: T13-34062

Year: 1976

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: includes original bonus EP and original multi-page insert; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4196

Price: $20.00

Cost: $1.00


I probably had not listened to "Songs In the Key of Life" all the way through since 1980 and hearing it for the first time in two and a half decades, I have to say I'm amazed at how good this set is.  The fact that it stretches over what amounts to two and a half albums is even more staggering !  


Released in 1976, Wonder reportedly spent two years working on the album.  In typical fashion, it was largely a one man show, with Wonder producing, arranging, writing (or co-writing all 21 tracks), and playing most of the instruments.  Musically the set was best described as "sprawling" with Wonder taking stabs at a broad arrange of personal and social topics and musical genres.  Funk (the second part of "Ordinary Pain"), jazz-rock fusion  (the instrumental "Confusion"), big band (his Duke Ellington tribute "Sir Duke"); it was all here.  Elsewhere, given how great the tunes were, it was easy to overlook Wonder's sometimes stinging social commentaries, but tracks such as "Village Ghetto Land", "Pastime Paradise" and the "high school civics lesson in a song" "Black Man" were dead-on in their criticisms of perceived social flaws.  Sure, it wasn't perfect, but at his best, including tracks such as his funky boyhood recollections on "I Wish", "All Day Sucker" and the breathtaking ballad "Isn't She Lovely", nobody could come within a country mile of Wonder's talents.  The album certainly proved a commercial bonanza topping the charts for weeks, earning Wonder Grammies as Album of the Year and Pop Male Vocal.  It also managed to spin off three top-40 singles:


- 1977's "I Wish" b/w "You and I" (Tamla catalog number 54274F)

- 1977's "Another Star" b/w "Creepin'" (Tamla catalog number 54286F)

- 1977's "Sir Duke" b/w "He's Mistra Know It All" (Tamla catalog number 54281F)

"Songs In the Key of Life" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Love's In Need of Love Today   (Stevie Wonder) - 7:05

2.) Have a Talk with God   (Hardaway - Stevie Wonder) - 2:42

3.) Village Ghetto Land   (Byrd - Stevie Wonder) - 3:25

4.) Confusion (instrumental)   (Stevie Wonder) - 6:23

5.) Sir Duke   (Stevie Wonder) - 3:45


(side 2)
1.) I Wish   (Stevie Wonder) - 3:54

2.) Knocks Me Off My Feet   (Stevie Wonder) - 4:12

3.) Pastime Paradise   (Stevie Wonder) - 3:36

4.) Summer Soft   (Stevie Wonder) - 3:27

5.) Ordinary Pain   (Stevie Wonder) - 4:14


(side 3)

1.) Isn't She Lovely   (Stevie Wonder) - 6:34

2.) Joy Inside My Tears   (Stevie Wonder) - 6:29

3.) Black Man   (Byrd - Stevie Wonder) - 8:29


(side 4)

1.) Ngiculela-Es Una Historia - I Am Singing   (Stevie Wonder) - 3:48

2.) If It's Magic   (Stevie Wonder) - 3:12

3.) As   (Stevie Wonder) -7:08

4.) Another Star   (Stevie Wonder) -8:28


bonus EP

1.) Saturn   (Sembello - Stevie Wonder) - 4:53

2.) Ebony Eyes   (Stevie Wonder) -4:08

3.) All Day Sucker   (Stevie Wonder) -5:05

4.) Easy Goin' Evening (My Mama's Call)   (Stevie Wonder) -3:56



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