TBT - Stevie Wonder Releases His Most Important Work, Innervisions
On this day in 1973 Stevie Wonder, fresh off the success of Talking Book, released one of the most influential albums of all time. Innervisions was released during the peak of Wonder’s career as he had just started creating albums with cohesive ideas and more artistic thought. After Talking Book, Wonder toured with the Rolling Stones to promote his music. This skyrocketed both “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” to the top of the charts. This set the stage for Stevie Wonder was primed to release one of the most significant works of music of the 70’s.
Almost every sound on Innervisions is played and crafted by Wonder himself, taking control creatively of his work. As a result, a flurry of different sounds and styles can be heard throughout the album. The overall feel of the album leans more towards a jazzy sound with the almost free flowing instrumentation that bisects Wonder’s lyrics, but there are elements of soul, funk, and rock glittered throughout the album. The opening track, “Too High” is one of the more jazz centric tracks with the multitude of instruments and vocals almost battling it out between Wonder’s lines. “Higher Ground”, with its synthy bassline, is track filled with funk influences. Songs like “Visions” and “All In Love is Fair” are a little lighter on the instrumentals, focusing on the soul aspects and Wonder’s voice. This soul is given life by the light nature of the guitars in “Visions” and the beautiful piano in “All In Love Is Fair”. By far my favorite track on the entire record, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”, is one of the more upbeat songs with Latin and Soul influences. The piano intro commands your immediate attention to stand up and dance. “Golden Lady” uses a rock piano intro and jazz bassline to meld the two genres. Instrumentally the album seesaws between very upbeat funk and jazz tunes and solemn soul songs, giving the album a nice sense of variety and flow.
What makes Innervisions [i] stand out among Wonder’s extensive discography is the themes he tackles and how he makes a cohesive attempt at exploring them. Although the instrumentation lends the ear to two different moods, the album coalesces into an optimistic theme. “Too High” gives a bleak view of drug addiction as Wonder sings “I’m so high/I feel like I’m gonna die”.”. Wonder also explores the bleak theme of racism in the epic “Living For the City". Still, in a somber tone, Wonder explores the futility of love and relationships in “All In Love Is Fair. This song is grim on another level as Wonder sings “All of fate's a chance/It's either good or bad.
I tossed my coin to say/In love with me you'd stay”. Through these grim themes, Wonder somehow generates an optimistic tone throughout the whole album. “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” is a shimmering song of hope in a sea of darkness. Wonder accepts the futilities of love, drugs, and slavery as they affect the African American community and tells them to dance it all away. “Higher Ground” calls for spiritual solutions for the issues that the community faces. The larger message that Wonder explores is that through all the struggles we have in life and as a society, we can persevere. Stevie Wonder hit his prime full swing and created an illustrious career that spanned many decades.
Listen to the Album on Spotify:
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