You may recall that earlier in 1972, we discussed “Music of My Mind” by Stevie Wonder. Later in the same year, he released “Talking Book”, which I would assume most people, myself included, consider this album to be a significant step forward in the caliber of his rapidly expanding solo, “adult” music journey. Once again fully under his complete artistic control, both in songwriting and musical performance, this highly successful record is rated #59 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and is #10 on the digitaldreamdoor.com Top 10 Greatest Soul albums of All Time. For those of you paying attention, that is our 3rd consecutive Top 10 album within a genre, over three different genres, from funk to folk to soul!
The album opens with the mellow Stevie classic, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”, and like much of the album, most of the instrumentation is Stevie’s keyboards. The clavinet is particularly prominent on this record, more so later in the track listing. We then begin to blur the lines of soul, funk and R&B on “Maybe Your Baby”, and not surprisingly, here comes the clavinet. This is a great song, one of the best on the album. “Tuesday Heartbreak” is another funkier song on side one I really like, and “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” is more of what we have come to expect with the classic Stevie sound.
Side two is another clavinet classic, and perhaps the most iconic Stevie Wonder song of them all, “Superstition”. From the opening drums, this song is instant magic. Covered by many, imitated by many more, including even my beloved Led Zeppelin on “Trampled Underfoot”, but nobody comes close to matching the groove Stevie lays down on this song. The rest of side is more on the slow side, with an interesting revisit to the opening chords of “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” at the beginning of “Lookin’ For Another Pure Love”.
I wasn’t a big fan of “Music of My Mind”, but “Talking Book” is one of the peak moments for Stevie Wonder in his incredibly accomplished career, and if you have never given it a listen, you probably should.