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4.0 out of 5 stars CHARACTERS:A ONE OF A KIND GALAXY PARADISE, December 26, 2015
This review is from: Characters (Audio CD)
'CHARACTERS' The 1987 album by Stevland Morris a/k/a Stevie Wonder,was surprisingly the first album released on the Motown Label imprint instead of his classic trademark Tamla label imprint.When buying the vinyl version of this album in late summer of 1987,to my dissapointment I made several trips back and forth to the then Sound Warehouse music store and I complained of several copies of this vinyl album manufactured by the Motown factory being defective.The cashier himself could not believe copies of this vinyl album was in defect from the Motown factory.He was startled when he put the album on the turntable,placed the needle on the opening cut 'You Will Know'-he reacted cool and calmly and said,''How could they ruin this modern classic?" I finally got an even exchange of the vinyl album in perfect condition.Weeks later I discovered that there were 2 extra songs that were available on the cassette and CD versions of this album.I then went ahead and purchased the CD version of the album that had the 2 extra tracks.Now that those issues were settled,I could now enjoy the album in it's entirety.

The album cover itself-the original lp jacket cover has a cool picture of Stevie dressed in red sweater,maroon jacket holding a sculpted art image of himself.The sculpted facial image of art can be felt on the album cover by hand when one touches the facial sculpture.It was Wonder's artistic concept,perhaps relating to the artist Willa Shalit so Wonder could feel his own facial image in lifecast sculpture form.On the inside album's sleeve,there is the 2nd meaning of the word 'character':One of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish the individual.There are lifecast character sculptures behind Wonder on the album cover.Are they part of his immediate family or the extension of the universal family of characters?Be that as it may,the music is the main focus here.

The album's opening cut,'You Will Know' with it's 'Ribbon In The Sky' like rhythm is a spiritual ecclesiastic ballad for the lonely and misfortunate dealing with the harsh realities of life.When we have problems in life,God is our guiding light.In doing so,prayer provides us comfort.In the song,Wonder's thought gives way to the truth in time:'Looking up to Heaven for the answer/They hear a voice that says-You will know,troubled heart you'll know/Problems have solutions/Trust and I will show'.Stevie as usual is essentially a one man band in this track performing on lead and backing vocals,synthesizers,percussion,drums,synclavier,moog bass,strings,bells,fairlight.The companion video to 'You Will Know' is all the more touching and dramatic showing real life situations.

'Dark 'n' Lovely' continues the anti apartheid angered funk from 'It's Wrong'(Apartheid)(From 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE',1985) Was Wonder's discontent with the white racist south african government's oppression and murder of Bantu People of the sun.The powerful track is a combination of lyrics written by longtime Wonder collaborator Gary Byrd with music by Stevie Wonder.In the 2004 documentary,'Nelson Mandela:The Life And Times',it was illegal in south africa to show Mandela's face(Being that he was captured in 1962 for trying to overthrow a white police state.)The documentary showed a 1977 clip of Mandela(Without his permission by a government camera man) wearing shades standing outside watching other prisoners shoveling dirt.Even though the white racist south african government tried to wipe out his name from a previous generation,it was still on the minds of a new generation of young Bantus(Black South Africans.) /For the first time since Mandela's imprisonment,South Africa was rocked by protest by Bantu Brothers and Sisters against apartheid in 1977 and into the mid 1980s led by white devil racist p.w.botha.In Soweto,Bantus protested in anger of mistreatment by DEVIL botha's security forces(With foolish support from devil negro buffoon south african self hating extremists).Over 1,000 BANTU activists were beaten and killed.These evil atrocities were the basis of what led Wonder to write the anti apartheid tracks 'Its Wrong'(Apartheid) and 'Dark 'n' Lovely'.'Dark 'n' Lovely'(With lyrics written by Brother Gary Byrd) captured the then crisis of racial indignities suffered by BANTU People from evil white devil racists:There is a place on Earth's Motherland/Where a people die in Bantu stands/Manchild at eight will face guns of hate/Womanchild's fate is life second rate/Just because they're dark 'n' lovely,Just because they're dark 'n' lovely/The whole planet's watchin',and the Sun God is watchin' too/Hey there botha,yes we are watchin' you/Spirits can do,Jah will stop this reign/Watch our world turn to help those in pain/Just because they're dark 'n' lovely,Just because they're dark 'n' lovely...

'In Your Corner' promises to defend a white buddy's ass in a black bar brawl fight:'Now where we're goin' they don't like your kind/But they'll cool out when you tell them you're a friend of mine/Cause I'll be in your corner,I'll be in your corner if they do...

'With Each Beat Of My Heart' is the kind of loveballad that made Stevie Wonder an institution.Being the creative musical innovator genius that he is,Wonder infuses his heartbeat to amazing effect as a drumbeat into the rhythm track including natural percussion,drums,synthesizers,harmonica with lead and backing vocal harmonies extraodinaire lovelyrics that can make a woman blush with sensitivity of love:'You are my first breath,my first smile,my morning cup of tea/Yours is the love that i pray for before I go to sleep/From the time I saw your face/I knew no other could erase/My loving you with each beat of my heart...I would call 'With Each Beat Of My Heart' a high tech loveballad achievement.

'One Of A Kind' is a pop-soul-love-funk gem.Here on this track,Wonder's cool lean perfectionist rhythms are like a brilliant bright satellite.A synthesized circle of bouncing beautiful funk.The track has lyrics about a man and woman feeling helplessly that love would never come their way until a bolt of lightning when 2 stormy clouds collide.They made a joyful happening to their lives.Now they're happy as can be,he's loving her and she's loving him-Two hearts intertwined which makes them a one of a kind...

'Skeletons' is a hostile,vicious,incendiary political funk assault scorcher attack on ronald reagan hypocrisy and the political crooks who are his allies,as Wonder piles on eight consecutive rapid fire choruses about reagan and his allies as they drop-shock-pop,shake-ache-break,lie-spy-fry.Wonder is relentless in this no holds barred fire and brimstone inflammatory of truth about political corruption:'Oh things are gettin' real funky down at the old corral/And it's not the skunks that are stinkin'/It's the stinkin' lies you tell!!!/Kudos to Stevie on this one.

'Get It' is a funk duet with Michael Jackson.The track speaks of the heartbreak of a girl who is tired of being betrayed and hurt by men,and decides to put her love on the shelf.Wonder and Jackson compete against one another to give her what she needs.The track sounds like Jackson and Wonder were really together in the studio doing their funky vocals.In reality,Jackson was never with Wonder in the studio.Jackson's vocals was produced by the legendary Quincy Jones at CBS Sony Studio in Tokyo,Japan of which through technology Jackson's vocals were streamlined to Stevie at his Wonderland Studios in Los Angeles,California.It was also during this period that Stevie duetted with Michael on the funk track 'Just Good Friends' on Jackson's 1987 'BAD' album of which Wonder also performed a synthesizer solo funk part on the song.Wonder is physically there with Jackson on this track.Stevie and Michael appeared on each other's 1987 albums vice versa.

The Futuristic 'Galaxy Paradise' takes us on a journey through out of space fantasy sensuality of love and funk,as a superfine thick bodacious Black Female lands her flying saucer rocket spaceship on the planet of Wonder as Stevie meets his Queen from the universal galaxies:'Our love's far more than sensual and twice as hot/You touch my hand and I know that we'll love forever/What flying saucer did you come here on?/What extraterrestrial planet are you from?/You're much more than life,Queen from Galaxy Paradise...
Believe it or not there is a video of 'Galaxy Paradise' that featured Stevie and a superfine woman in out of space that premiered in late summer or early fall of 1987 from the entitled 'STEVIE WONDER:CHARACTERS'.It was presented by MTV.The special combined vintage clips and concept pieces with renditions of tracks from the album 'CHARACTERS'.The special also includes musical guests Salt 'n Pepa,Stevie Ray Vaughn and former Shalamar member,Jody Watley.It was the first and only time I've seen the special when it originally aired on MTV in 1987.'Galaxy Paradise' is Wonder in galactic funk mode:Synclavier,Fairlight,Bass,Drums and with parts of the song utilizing his voice to a strange space effect through his synthesizer.

'Cryin Through The Night' is a sadfunk heartbreak tale about a man who lost his woman to his best friend.The track is funky,but it is filled with lyrics mentioning lovesick blues,tears on a pillow,weeping like a weeping willow,tears to fill a water well and Wonder even throws in a sound of a crying baby infant from his synthesized funk.Maybe the crying baby dropped plenty of tears on Wonder's high tech instrument to end the song's sadness.

In what should've been the CD(album's closer) 'Free' is another one of Wonder's higher calling to God In Heaven tracks,is strangely sequenced in between 'Cryin' Through The Night' and 'Come Let Me Make Your Love Come Down'.This bizarre sequencing of 'Free' in my opinion did the song an injustice.'Free' would've been the perfect album closer but instead that job goes to 'My Eyes Don't Cry'.'You Will Know ' is spiritual opener,'Free' should've been the spiritual album closer.'Free' was the closer on the vinyl version of the album.Why couldn't it be the closer on the CD version of this album?What a pity.What were you thinking Stevie?I would've given this album 5 stars but because 'Free' was strangely sequenced between songs and not the album's closer,I'm docking this album 1 star.Now with my misgivings about that gross error out of the way,my critique is on the track 'Free'.The track is another one of Wonder's ecclesiastical heavenly afterlife songs reminiscent of 'As' from his classic 1976 double album 'Songs In The Key Of Life'.'Free' focuses on another phase of life:Transition.Wonder sings of his own eulogy while being backed by a stellar gospel choir:'Free like the river-flowing freely through infinity-free to be sure of what I am and who I need not be-Free from all worries-Life running through me-till I feel my Father God has called-I'm gone but still living life goes on without a beating heart-Free like the river,my life goes on and on through infinity..../This is a cut that has emotional heights to the heavens of the spiritual realm.Wonder is on piano,drums,clavicord,spinet and he is joined by his backing band Wonderlove and Julian Bahula&ADE on African drums.The track was recorded at Westside Studios in London,England.

'Come Let Me Make Your Love Come Down' is a light pop blues delight as Wonder expresses the joy of having a 4 ft 10 inch dimunitive sweet sugar lady that brings him joy,provides him everything he wants and needs by calling her 'Miss Satisfaction' as she tells him by going into her bag of tricks:'Come let me make your love come down'-Provided that he would never worry cause she will keep him satisfied.Wonder mentions and invites blues legends BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughn as they add spicy blues guitar solos on the track.Wonder's sister Renee Hardaway joins her brother's female backing group Wonderlove on backing vocals.

'My Eyes Don't Cry' is a 7 minute tour de force of funk of Wonder's one man band talents:synthesizers,bass,drums,horn synthesizers.In a compelling song with a double dose of life's pitfalls and being rescued by the lovesunshine rays of a woman:'I was a he ain't nothin'/living in the slums of love's misery/starving from the sweet affection/till you came to rescue me/I was a mr.lonely seeing only darkness in the bright of day/Blind even though my eyes were wide opened,but then your love sunshined my way/My eyes don't cry no more,my heart don't ache no more/Since you walked through my door,I don't have to no longer be blue.../Wonder's backing vocalists provide powerful vocals and as a side slant,Wonder even whips out kazoos as extra backing vocal support.There is a live version video of the song with guest appearances by actors,comedians and music greats:Redmond Hicks,Paul Mooney,Robert Townsend,Chaka Khan,Dianne Reeves.There is a small miniature like Patrice Rushen like sister whose name I don't know is on keyboards gives Wonder a hug in a wildly entertaining video.

Inside the album's sleeve notes,Wonder makes a final statement which sounds like a sparkling footnote to 'Free':'May we all want to walk hand-in-hand with those who have earned their ticket and now walk with the Highest Supreme'-STEVLAND MORRIS-September 17th,1987.'CHARACTERS' would be the last album for Wonder in the decade of the 1980s.I re-arranged the songs from this album from my perspective to give the album a better flow plus 3 bonus tracks.Here is my arrangement of the songs in order:

Come Let Me Make Your Love Come Down
In Your Corner
Just Good Friends(w/Michael Jackson)*
Get It(w/Michael Jackson)
Dark 'n' Lovely
Cryin' Through The Night
My Eyes Don't Cry
One Of A Kind
Galaxy Paradise
With Each Beat Of My Heart
You Will Know
I Can Only Be Me(w/Keith John)*
My Love(w/Julio Iglesias)*

*Bonus Tracks

Stevie Wonder and Motown needs to re-issue this CD as a double CD with the first disc expanded with the 3 extra songs that I included and the second disc with extended 12 inch remixes of the jams:
Skeletons 6:43/Skeletons(Instrumental 6:43)
Get It(w/Michael Jackson 6:43)/Get It(Instrumental 6:47)
My Eyes Don't Cry 6:44/My Eyes Don't Cry(Dub Mix 7:21)
With Each Beat Of My Heart(Instrumental 3:50)

In Square Circle
In Square Circle
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5.0 out of 5 stars WELCOME 2 THE PLANET OF IN SQUARE CIRCLE, June 16, 2013
This review is from: In Square Circle (Audio CD)
'IN SQUARE CIRCLE'The 1985 album by Stevie Wonder is the official follow-up to his classic 1980 album,'Hotter Than July'/There was a 5 year gap between the 2 albums.Inside the 5 year vaccum,Wonder released 2 albums:The half new studio classic 1982 compilation,'STEVIE WONDER'S ORIGINAL MUSIQUARIUM I'a best of decade compilation double album from his 1972-1982 period that included his hits from 'MUSIC OF MY MIND'(1972) to 'ORIGINAL MUSIQUARIUM I'(1982) which included 4 new songs and his original 1984 movie soundtrack album,'The Woman In Red' which included duets with the legendary Dionne Warwick.

When finally released in September,1985 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' was the last Stevie Wonder album that was on the legendary TAMLA(MOTOWN)imprint.The beat of modern technology inspired Wonder's then new disc 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE'/Utilizing a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer,a Linn drum machine,The Kurzwell 250 and the Synclavier.Wonder recorded more than 30 tracks for the album,which delayed it's release in selecting and trimming a what? 3 CD set of 30 tracks to a single CD of 10 tracks.To name a few of the tracks that were rejected and did not appear on the 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' album are:'Futuristic Bossa Nova'(presumably slowjazz or jazzfunk)Wonder included legendary jazz greats such as Stan Getz & Wynton Marsalis.For 'Brink Road' Wonder wanted to invite Little Richard,Jerry Lee Lewis & Chuck Berry to perform with him on the track.'Free' an inspirational song about GOD with a fusion mix of electronics and a large gospel choir.(The track 'Free' found it's way 2 years later on Wonder's 1987 album,'CHARACTERS')

The legendary musician is setting on the planet's dark grayish surface surrounded by it's rocks with a magnificent purple sky in the background.The planet 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' has ten satellites that surround the musical planet.Inside the album planet's linear notes were written by Theresa Cropper and Stevie Wonder:
'Songlife' as Cropper and Wonder described is the cosmic carrier,the one who guided this process.It was her or his psychic assistance that made this message physically possible.As they came together surrounding each other,they prepared themselves to travel in the unending spiral of life 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' an interesting yet ageless journey into infinite posibilities.These posibilities as Cropper and Wonder described,came into fruition as 'Part-Time Lover'(with additional vocal aid by Luther Vandross)the lead off satellite single from the planet of 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' is a high tech 1960s Motownish bouncy bounced groove updated in 1980s synthesized soul pop.Having hot love on the side in the game of love in being discreet when 'Part-Time Lovers'/It would be Wonder's last across the board #1 R&B,Pop hit.

'I Love You Too Much' is the funkiest satellite from the planet of 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE'/The song is 'Maybe Your Baby'(From Wonder's classic 1972 album 'Talking Book')updated in mid-eighties technofunk without a rock guitar part.Just only imagine a scorching rock guitar part added to 'I Love You Too Much' it would've reached scalding porportions in the funk rock stratosphere.The track is a lovefunkfest with a classic Wonder phrase to a woman that takes the track over the top:'Baby,baby,you make me feel like you care alot,But I-I-I-I,Honey,I Love you Too Much!'('Maybe three much!')

'Whereabouts' the satelite of life where one could be when one is lost,when Wonder bestows the ?uestion:'Where is the missing one?The missing one?'/'Where is the missing one?The missing one? The tender ballad addresses the topics of missing persons,photographic memories,isolation and introspection.

Inside the shores of the planet 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' is the exquisite heartbroken island ballad play,'Stranger On The Shore Of Love'(A satellite of three acts)/The real life reality play is divided into acts I,II,III:
Act I:Two people are in love-lucky is she,lucky feels he...
Act II:A table for two love vows of 'I Do'A honeymoon out of a dream,who could ask for anything more...
Act III:A home on a hill,with love daffodills-And cold winter nights by the fire-
What more could be,for she and he
There's more than enough love and yet
She or he starts feeling regret,what do you get?one broken heart...
Oh, I don't wanna be-no stranger on the shore of love-with tears and an upset stomach and a broken heart...

(Wonder released a funk track on the 1985 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack,Berry Gordy's 'The Last Dragon' entitled 'Upset Stomach' which was not included on 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE':It is quite possible that 'Upset Stomach' could be a spinoff from the track,'Stranger On The Shore Of Love' from the line 'I don't wanna have an upset stomach from a broken heart')

A romance that ends in heartbreak,that melted underneath the Sun.The Sun's not providing much warmth for one inside the planet of 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' as described in the next satellite track 'Never In Your Sun'
A beauty of a song inside Wonder's mind of kaleidescope love imagery of meeting a beautiful lady at Lover's Park-one rainy April Monday-smiling soft and warm on a clear December Sunday-wearing taffeta and lace-
That matched her braided hair-with their coraled beads that sang to me...
She said 'Hi' and asked me why was I looking with sorrow
When there were much brighter days In store for me tomorrow
I looked up at her and smiled and said why I don't know
But would she agree to stay with me? And she said never in your sun...
Then she said,I will only come in your pouring rain to relieve the pain...
Wonder's ear for intricate melodies for these tender rhythm of back to back tracks of love and heartbreak are stuff of legend.

'Spiritual Walkers'(The prayer satellite from the planet of 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE')is a funk spiritual track aimed at those who spread the word of GOD 2 the masses in light,despite those individuals as Stevie mentioned in the track who 'run from their sight,to not hear the Holy word-They sing and they chant,they preach and they speak in tongues you have never heard'
Wonder no doubt is aiming the track at those 'Spiritual Walkers' who are living the word of GOD and JESUS,by not forcing religion or religious principles on the masses,but rather to influence or inspire the truth to light for the people.By the same token,there are so called 'Spiritual Walkers' who are 'spiritual frauds' in the pulpit preaching the Bible and comitting unnatural acts of blasphemous sin and corrupt to the core.I wouldn't rank 'Spiritual Walkers' in Wonder's top 10 Ecclesiastic songs,but the track's message for those who spread the word and those who need the word is of relevance.

'Land Of LA LA'(Los Angeles,California)another satellite from the planet of 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE'/with it's faint distant rock edges is a tale of young adults leaving their safe small hometown for the danger and excitement of the big city of Los Angeles,CA in search of Hollywood dreams but learn very quickly about survival before being awed by movie stars,great big cars,perrier and fun all day:'He's a big boy now,She's a strong girl-but only the strong survive living in the Land Of LA LA'

The funky synthesized bassfunk of 'Go Home' (another funky satellite from the planet of 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE') that narrates life about a pretty girl that had a real good man and a steady job.But the 2 of them just weren't in her heart.She wanted to be close to another man to give him the love she knew he'd need.He then gently turns her down because of the circumstances concerning the both of them and tells her,'Girl you're wrong-go home!'/On the synthesized bassfunk track,Wonder is on the drums,synthesizer,vocoder and is supported by only 2 bandmates:Bob Malach on saxophone and Larry Gittens on trumpet.Gittens's blaring,precise trumpet funk sounds are remeniscent of his trumpet funk grooves back in 1979 on the airy disco Wonderfunk track,'Race Babbling' from Wonder's 1979 double album of plant life,'STEVIE WONDER'S Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants'

Wonder adds another slice of sweet romantic heavenly bliss with the 9th satellite of 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' the beautiful plush ballad,'Overjoyed'/'Overjoyed',originally recorded in 1979,was intended to be on Wonder's ecclectic new age double album,the extravagant 'Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants'/In 1995,Wonder appeared on the BET music program Video Soul to promote his 1995 CD album 'CONVERSATION PEACE'/He sung some of his classics and chatted with host Donnie Simpson about the historical origins behind his classic songs.When discussing the history behind 'Overjoyed',Simpson was at a Wonder concert when Wonder would say:'Here's a song I wanna play for you all,it didn't make my album'(the album was 'STEVIE WONDER'S Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants')The song was 'Overjoyed'/Simpson wondered in ?uestion:'How could this song not make it on an album?

'Overjoyed' found it's way on place on 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' six years later in 1985.Beautified by it's beautiful lyrics and instrumentation from the heavens as Wonder created a beautiful musical soundscape pallet of piano,CS80,environmental percussion:crickets,nightingale and additional bird sounds,ocean,pebbles in pond,stone dropped,crushing leaves on the track.Wonder invites legendary smooth jazz guitarist Earl Klugh to play with him on the track.Longtime Wonder side musician Paul Riser did the string arrangement.Stevie's legendary vocals and lyrics complete the beautiful ballad:
'And though you don't believe that they do
They do come true,for did my dreams come true
When I looked at you and maybe too,If you would believe
You too might be overjoyed,overloved,over me'(Also for an added visual experience check out the 'Overjoyed' video:Acomplex video of the heavens mixing life,love,romance and sweet heavenly bliss.I love the beautiful lady with Wonder in the video.)

The 10th and final satellite from the planet of 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' Wonder journeys our rocketship in space from the planet IN SQUARE CIRCLE to planet Earth to KEMET (Africa,The Motherland:The Heartbeat of planet Earth) to the biting stinging social commentary of apartheid:'It's Wrong'(Apartheid)/Wonder blasts the white devil regime of oppression in South Africa done 2 the beautiful Bantu People,with blatant powerful lyrics:

'The wretchedness of satan's wrath will come to seize you at last
'Cause even he frowns upon the deeds you are doing
And you know deep in your heart,you've no covenant with God
'Cause He would never countenance people abusing
You know apartheid's wrong,like slavery was wrong,like the holocaust was wrong
(Qha)Wrong/The pain you cause in God's name points only yourself to blame
For the negative karma you will be receiving/'Cause when people are oppressed
With atrocities that test,the future of all mankind won't stand seeing'
The rules I need not recite,For you know what's wrong and what's right
So strike down your barbaric rules and cruel restrictions
The clock of now says its time for you to make up your mind
Before its too late for you to earn your redemption...

Instrumentation on this track is all Stevie including a powerful backbeat with in your face Bantu African protest chants ('Qha!') vocal chants in the background.Stevie also whips out the instrument called the Cora,which is loud and upfront with radiant,powerful silver metallic noises:A musical warning to white racists regimes that oppression done to BLACK PEOPLE,IS STRAIGHT UP WRONG!!!This powerful protest track is also aimed indirectly to negroe devils who support white racists regimes whether in Africa or in the United States or worldwide in general with evil corrupt governmental rule tactics to destroy Black People including people of many ethnic groups WHO WANT JUSTICE,PEACE AND UNITY.

Also during this period of 1985,Stevie Wonder along with 47 others was arrested for protesting the South African Embassy for doing apartheid in Washington,D.C./Most of those who were arrested were taken away by police in buses,while Wonder and his longtime aide Ewart Abner,Jr.were taken away in a police squad car.It was also during this period that Stevie Wonder's music was banned in South Africa for a statement he made when he won an oscar for the 1984 original motion picture musical soundtrack album,'The Woman In Red'/In the statement,Wonder declared that he accepted the award 'In the name of Nelson Mandela' who at the time was imprisoned in South Africa,was sentenced in 1964 of planning to overthrow the South African government.1985 was another year of music and political activism for Stevie Wonder which coincided with other political musical events of the year:USA FOR AFRICA & SUN CITY(ARTISTS UNITED AGAINST APARTHEID)in South Africa.

In 1986,Stevie embarked on a concert tour.I saw Stevie live in concert when he came to Dallas TX. at the Reunion Arena and he put on a brilliant show.I also have his 1986 concert souvenir booklet which on the front cover of it has an alternative cover with the same cover version as the original album cover,just slightly different.Inside of it,were photographic images of Wonder from his 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' album photo pictures and pictures of him performing live in concert with quotes from tracks of the album.The concert souvenir program also includes past photos on Wonder during the era of activism in getting Martin Luther King Jr's birthday as a national holiday with Dr King's widow,Correta Scott King.It also includes pictures of him with various celebrities and a 1983 pic of Stevie with the late great Marvin Gaye.

'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' is a great album that needs to be re-issued in an expanded CD edition with bonus tracks that need to be included in the expanded CD edition:'Upset Stomach'(the full length CD version from the 1985 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack,'BERRY GORDY'S LAST DRAGON')/The beautiful instrumental version of 'Overjoyed' which is on the 45 B-side vocal version of 'Overjoyed'/The 12 inch extended jam funk versions of 'Part-Time Lover'(8:20) with instrumental B-Side(8:20)/'Go Home'(9:22)with instrumental B-Side(8:36)/'Land of LA LA'(8:40)with instrumental B-Side(8:40)/I have all of these versions of extended funkjams of these tracks on 12 inch vinyl,including the beautiful instrumental 45 version of 'Overjoyed'/In retrospect,'IN SQUARE CIRCLE' is Stevie Wonder in synths mode,mixing spirituality,love,politics,protest and the human condition...
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At The Close Of A Century [4 CD Box Set]
At The Close Of A Century [4 CD Box Set]
Price: $48.50
80 used & new from $21.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AT THE CLOSE OF A CENTURY:Nice Historical Document But..., December 29, 2011
Stevie Wonder's 'AT THE CLOSE OF A CENTURY'is a great historical musical document that covers the arc of Wonder's brilliant career from his early career start with Motown Records to the present day.Starting in the early sixties,he went from child prodigy to a Motown hitmaker guided and developed by Motown mentor Berry Gordy and a strong Motown supporting cast.This historical musical document starts with his first tenure at Motown(Hitsville USA)with his first big hit 'Fingertips'recorded live in 1963 to his final Motown factory hit,'If You Really Love Me'in 1971.Later in 1971,Wonder's contract was up for renewal and he demanded Mr.Gordy to give him a new recording contract of which Gordy gave Wonder.Wonder wasted no time with his new found musical freedom and a future change of direction in his music.Stevie had gone as far as he could in letting Motown guide his career.

Starting in 1972,with the albums 'MUSIC OF MY MIND'and 'Talking Book'/led to Wonder's seventies explosion with more ground breaking albums such as 'INNERVISIONS'(1973)/'FULFILLINGNESS FIRST FINALE'(1974)/'Songs In The Key of Life'(1976)/'STEVIE WONDER'S Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants'(1979)/What is more baffling is that nearly all of the whole album of 'INNERVISIONS' is represented save for one track,Jesus Children Of America'/Why not just include the whole album of 'INNERVISIONS' instead of omitting 'Jesus Children Of America?'/The new era of Wonder's career beginning in 1972 with hits such as 'Superwoman'/I Love Every Little Thing About You/Superstition/You Are The Sunshine of My Life/Higher Ground(1973)/Living For The City(1973)/Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing(1973)/Boogie On Reggae Woman(1974)/You Haven't Done Nothin'(1974)/I Wish(1976)/Sir Duke(1976)/Isn't She Lovely(1976)/Send One Your Love(1979)/was regarded as Wonder's most explosive creative output.

At the dawning of the new decade of the 1980s,'Hotter Than July'(1980)continued in the vein of Wonder's classic ground breaking albums of the seventies.'Master Blaster(Jammin')'was the first Wonder hit to blast off the new decade of the eighties for him.A few more hits from 'Hotter Than July'were released:I Ain't Gonna Stand For It/Did I Hear You Say You Love Me/All I Do(Is Think About You)/Lately/Happy Birthday.'STEVIE WONDER'S ORIGINAL MUSIQUARIUM I'was released in 1982 which represented his classic seventies period buffed over with four new eighties classics:That Girl/Ribbon In The Sky/Front Line/Do I Do,three of which made the cut on this 'AT THE CLOSE OF A CENTURY' box set.All except'Front Line'which is a travesty.

1984 ushered in Wonder's 2nd original motion picture soundtrack album,'The Woman In Red'of which two tracks are included in this box set:I Just Called To Say I Love You/Lovelight In Flight.'IN SQUARE CIRCLE'from 1985 was Wonder's follow-up album after 1980's 'Hotter Than July'/Three tracks from 'IN SQUARE CIRCLE'are also on this box set:Part-Time Lover/Go Home and the beautiful ballad 'Overjoyed'(which was originally intended for the 1979 double album,'STEVIE WONDER'S Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants')is one of the most beautiful ballads of Wonder's career.Wonder ended the eighties with the 1987 album 'CHARACTERS'/The scorching political funk single 'Skeletons' attacks crooked politicians while 'You Will Know' is a 'Ribbon In The Sky Ballad' that has a ecclesiastical message of hope for the downtrotten.

Wonder's career during the decade of the 1990's slowed significantly releasing only three albums:'MUSIC FROM THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK:JUNGLE FEVER'(1991)which features the funk cut 'Gotta Have You'and the tender tearjerker 'These Three Words'/1995 saw the release of 'CONVERSATION PEACE'-It was Wonder's first real studio album in eight years.Sadly,only one song 'For Your Love'is represented on 'AT THE CLOSE OF A CENTURY'/It would've been cool to include a few more tracks from 'CONVERSATION PEACE'such as 'Taboo To Love' and 'Cold Chill'-Wonder's third and final album of the nineties was the live double CD 'Natural Wonder'(1995)included several new songs on it.'Dancing To The Rhythm'an upbeat live track detailing spiritual upliftment is the best of the new songs from the 'Natural Wonder' double CD,missed the cut on 'AT THE CLOSE OF A CENTURY'

As great as this musical historical document is,Stevie and Motown missed a golden opportunity to include some of Wonder's rarities.This box set includes just hits AND NO RARITIES!!!With the exception of 'Until You Comeback To Me(That's What I'm Gonna Do)'from 1967.Wonder's classic childhood era tracks'Purple Raindrops'recorded either in 1964 or 1965 appeared on the 'B' side of his 'A' side 1966 hit 45 single 'Uptight' was not included on no album was grossly omitted along with 'With A Child's Heart' from the album,'UPTIGHT'(1966)missed the cut.'AT THE CLOSE OF A CENTURY' also grossly omitted 'Keep Our Love Alive'(1990),It is Wonder's spiritual message of love and world unity.Another grossly omitted song is 'Feeding Off The Love Of The Land' which appeared at the end credits of the classic 1991 Spike Lee movie,'Jungle Fever'/This mellow track has a 'Vision's'like message to it similar to 'Visions'(from Wonder's landmark 1973 album,'INNERVISIONS')/The track 'Feeding Off The Love Of The Land'was grossly omitted from the 'Jungle Fever'soundtrack CD album.These songs are not available on no album and should've been included on this 'AT THE CLOSE OF A CENTURY'box set.

As for people who just want to hear the hits,I am biased regarding this box set.Unfortunately,there is nothing here regarding unreleased rare tracks or the full length 12 inch longer versions of his hits on this box set for the hardcore Wonder fan.There should've been a bonus disc of Wonder rarities.Given Wonder's exhaustive body of work,there should be another box retrospective set and this time around it should focus on his rarities from all decades of his remarkable career as well as a bonus disc of tracks that Wonder wrote for other artists and perhaps a bonus disc of Wonder instrumentals.
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Stevie Wonder - Song Review: A Greatest Hits Collection
Stevie Wonder - Song Review: A Greatest Hits Collection
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3.0 out of 5 stars STEVIE WONDER'S ORIGINAL MUSIQUARIUM II?, December 29, 2011
Stevie Wonder's double CD 'Song Review' is a puzzling but baffling collection that left me scratching my head.This collection has songs that are already available on previous compilations.'Song Review'is an oddly thrown together hodgepodge with tracks that start the collection from the mid-eighties then switches to the early to late seventies and rewinds back to the sixties.Wonder's sixties and early seventies tracks do not belong on this CD compilation which should've focused on material recorded between 1982-1995.

This 2 CD set is inconsistent and is an odd mixture of decades mixed in together with no consistent flow.Wonder's 1982 'ORIGINAL MUSIQUARIUM I'was more consistent and concentrated on the 2ND phase of his remarkable career and has a consistent flow to the classic double album,'Song Review' does not.It did however include songs such as Part-Time Lover/I just Called To Say I Love You/Overjoyed/Ebony&Ivory/For Your Love/You Will Know/These Three Words/Lovelight In Flight.

These songs deserve to be on this collection,but more songs from his 1982-1996 time capsule should've been added to better enhance this collection.The only thing that saved this bizarre collection was the inclusion of the then four new songs:Stay Gold(from the 1983 original motion picture soundtrack,'The Outsiders')/Kiss Lonely Goodbye(from the 1996 original motion picture soundtrack,'The Adventures of Pinocchio')/Hold On To Your Dream and the remake of the legendary Bob Marley's 'Redemption Song'

Here is a more complete compilation from 1982-1995 for this collection which should be re-titled to 'STEVIE WONDER'S ORIGINAL MUSIQUARIUM II'

Used To Be(Duet with Charlene)(1982)
Ebony&Ivory(Duet with Paul McCartney)(1982)
Stay Gold(from the original motion picture soundtrack,'The Outsiders')(1983)
I Just Called To Say I Love You (original longer album version)(1984)
It's You(duet with Dionne Warwick)(1984)
Weakness(duet with Dionne Warwick)(1984)
Lovelight In flight(1984)
Part-Time Lover(1985)
I Love You Too Much(1985)
Go Home(1985)
You Will Know(1987)
With Each Beat Of My Heart(1987)
Dark 'N Lovely(1987)
Get It(duet with Michael Jackson)(1987)

My Eyes Don't Cry(1987)
These Three Words(1991)
Make Sure You're Sure(1991)
Fun Day(1991)
Gotta Have You(1991)
Queen In The Black(1991)
Sensuous Whisper(1995)
Cold Chill(1995)
Edge Of Eternity(1995)
Taboo To Love(1995)
For Your Love(1995)
Kiss Lonely Goodbye(from the original motion picture soundtrack,'The Adventures Of Pinocchio')(1996)
Hold On To Your Dream(1996)
Redemption Song(a remake of a classic Bob Marley track)(1996)

This revamped song line-up would've been a by far better compilation collection by having the CD/album cover just like 'MUSIQUARIUM I'with a different color with the fish and should've been retitled to 'STEVIE WONDER'S ORIGINAL MUSIQUARIUM II' and like 'MUSIQUARIUM I'before it 'Song Review' did include 4 new songs:Stay Gold/Kiss Lonely Goodbye/Hold On To Your Dream/Redemption Song (Stevie and Motown missed the boat on this release had it been compiled the way i have the included track listing)
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4.0 out of 5 stars STEVIE WONDER LIVE (THE 2ND LIVE ALBUM), December 29, 2011
This review is from: Live (Audio CD)
In 1963,Little Stevie Wonder recorded his first full live album entitled,'LITTLE STEVIE WONDER RECORDED LIVE:THE 12 YEAR OLD GENIUS'/The album's lone big hit was 'Fingertips'/Also included in the album were two more Motown originals:'Soul Bongo'and'La La La La La'and a few Ray Charles cover versions.

In early 1970,Stevie Wonder released his 2nd live album seven years later.In between the vacuum from his first live album from 1963,'LITTLE STEVIE WONDER RECORDED LIVE:THE 12 YEAR OLD GENIUS'to his STEVIE WONDER'LIVE'album from 1970,Wonder recorded four other live albums with his Motown labelmates:RECORDED LIVE VOL.1 at the APOLLO IN NEW YORK(1963)/RECORDED LIVE:THE MOTORTOWN REVUE VOL.2(1964)/THE MOTORTOWN REVUE LIVE IN PARIS(1965)/MOTORTOWN REVUE LIVE(1969)

In the same time period from 1963-1970,Wonder also recorded the albums:THE JAZZ SOUL OF LITTLE STEVIE(1963)/With A Song In My Heart(1963)/STEVIE AT THE BEACH(1964)/UPTIGHT(1966)/Down To Earth(1966)/I WAS MADE TO LOVE HER(1967)/Someday At Christmas(1967)/For Once In My Life(1968)/EIVETS REDNOW(1968)/MY CHERIE AMOUR(1969)
As the decade of the 1960s progressed,Wonder recorded a stack of Motown hit singles:Fingertips/Castles In The Sand/Hey Harmonica Man/Uptight/Hey Love/I Was Made To Love Her/I'm Wondering/For Once In My Life/You Met Your Match/Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day/I'm More Than Happy(I'm Satisfied)/I Don't Know Why/(Alfie/More Than A Dream-instrumentals)/My Cherie Amour/Yester-Me,Yester-You,Yesterday/Angie Girl.

Alongside his hits beginning in 1965,Wonder started writing and producing other artists within the Motown system,something of which shook the Motown machine and Berry Gordy because Wonder was rebelling musically as an artist.With all of his musical development and experiences as a multi-instrumentalist,recording hits,flexing his experiences as a writer helped him grow as a live performer were the foundations of his second live album.

Released in early 1970,'STEVIE WONDER:LIVE'is an album of Wonder coming of age as a live performer.This release is a mixture of cover versions and Motown originals.Wonder does splendid live cover versions of tracks such as 'Pretty World'/'Sunny'/'Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet'...Stevie even throws in a nice live remake of 'Everybody's Talkin' the classic 1967 recording by Harry Nilsson.Wonder also does live cover versions of tracks such as the legendary Bob Dylan's 'Blowin'In The Wind'/'Alfie'(Instrumental)/I've Gotta Be Me/'Once In A Lifetime'and the beautiful version of 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix'

Wonder's Motown originals include:Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day(For this track,Stevie whips out his clarinet for a funky effect)/My Cherie Amour/Yester-Me,Yester-You,Yesterday/A Place In The Sun/Down To Earth/For Once In My Life/Thank You Love.However,the premier highlight of this live album is Stevie Wonder's incredible drumming on the track,'Ca Purange'...To my surprise when I first bought this album/lp after playing it,it clocked in at nearly 30 minutes per side-nearly sixty minutes playing time for a single album/lp.This classic live album from Stevie Wonder in 1970 is a rare hard to find classic and is rarely mentioned inside Wonder's vault of his classic popular albums.

Hotter Than July (Remastered)
Hotter Than July (Remastered)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stevie&tammi:the tender beginnings of hotter than july 1966-1980, October 11, 2010
'Hotter Than July'...The 1980 album by Stevie Wonder,was a shockingly swift release.Released less than a year after his 1979 double soundtrack album,'Stevie Wonder's Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants'a souvenir to a movie film that most audiences never had a chance to see,was panned,criticized and scorned by Motown and Wonder's fan base.When Wonder turned in the 'Secret Life Of Plants'tapes to Motown,they said to Wonder,'What the hell is going on here?'The music from the 'Plants' album confused and alienated Wonder's audiences.Stevie's response was the most becoming gesture of a consumate musical genius:he cut years off of his habitually lengthy gestation period of years in between albums and unleashed the powerful 1980 album,'Hotter Than July'/Wonder invites special musical guests greats such as the beautiful Angela Winbush,Betty Wright,The O'Jays,Michael Jackson and a few members of the Gap Band appear as background vocalists on the album.

'Did I Hear You Say You Love Me'the album's opening cut is a funk r&b rock workout.It is the only funk track in Wonder's career that starts quietly,then explodes into a funk explosion with Wonder's high energy vocals.The track's title questions a lady in the song who may have love for a man she wants to be with.The track has lyrics detailing physical desire:'I've been standing on the outside/Trying to get on the inside'...The track is a non stop funkfest with strong backing'I Love You' vocals.

'All I Do' a track whose origins date back to 1966 was co-written by Stevie with Clarence Paul(Wonder's mentor of the 1960s)and Morris Broadnax.Stevie Wonder was a 15 or 16 year old teen in 1966 when this track was written.The very beautiful Tammi Terrell sang on the original 1966 session version of the track with her beautiful warm vocals.One can only imagine the beauty of Tammi and Stevie working together in the Detroit Motown Hitsville Studios during the era of the mid sixties.Tammi's original version of 'All I Do'(Is Think About You)is included in the 2002 double CD compilation,'A Cellarful Of Motown!'(A collection of rare unreleased Motown tracks recorded by Motown artists of the 1960s.)The song is also on Tammi's recently released double CD of solo material.Wonder recorded an updated lovefunk version of 'All I Do'14 years later on his 1980 album 'Hotter Than July'/Stevie glossed the track over with his usual great musicianship and classic vocals with raved up passionate adult intimacy about a sensual lady of his dreams.For good measure,I recorded Tammi's original 1966 version alongside Wonder's 1980 remake of the song on a cassette tape from the eras that they were recorded in:The 1960s&1980s.
A beauty of a song with lyrics detailing desire and love from the heart:'You've made my soul a burning fire/you're getting to be my one desire/you're getting to be all that matters to me/and let me tell you girl/I hope and pray each day I live/a little more love I'll have to give/a little more love that's devoted and true/'cause all I do is think about you...

'Rocket Love'is a soulful beautiful out of space ballad about betrayal from a woman.The song's lyrics details the fraud of love:'The passion burning in your heart/would make hell's fire seem like a spark,where did it go?/just why that you would overnight/turn love to stone as cold as ice,I'll never know/but you took me riding in your rocket gave me a star/but at a half a mile from heaven you dropped me down to this cold,cold world.Stevie's summary of love is that it can be a heart of gold,but it can also be very cold to the heart as well.'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It'(along with previous Wonder classics such as 'Happier Than The Morning Sun'/'Big Brother'/'Too Shy To Say' and 'Game Called Love' which was written for The Originals in 1974,have shades of c&w elements)finds Wonder traveling musically into country&western territory.Unlike the previous songs that were listed,'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It'is the first song of the bunch that Wonder fine tunes and transforms his classic vocals into the 'twang drawl' of country&western.The song centers around a funny 'hillbilly affair'about another man rubbin' on his woman(his good luck charm.)(This track brings back memories of my dad.My dad used to love to sing that line in the song:oh,oh,oh,oh,my,my,my,my,my,my...)

'As If You Read My Mind'is one of my favorite tracks on this album.It is this album's hidden gem.The song's message is simple in being highly in love and a toast to love's simple pleasures.Wonder's ex,the beautiful Syreeta Wright provided sweet backing vocals.Stevie's piano playing is upfront in this mid tempo fast paced track and Wonder's classic harmonica solo.

'Master Blaster(Jammin')'the album's lead off single was Wonder's funk political reggae tribute to the legendary Bob Marley.The track's Black Political Message was the theme of the times in the early dawn of the new decade of the 1980s as Zimbabwe won it's independence.The former British colony of Southern Rhodesia then flashed into the independence of Zimbabwe in the spring of 1980 when Zimbabwe(under the rule of Robert Mugabe)won it's war of liberation against the British.Wonder was highly aware of Zimbabwe's winning it's independence.In a key verse of 'Master Blaster(Jammin')'Wonder addresses Zimbabwe's freedom for justice:'Peace has come to Zimbabwe/Third World's right on the one/Now's the time for celebration/Cause we've only just begun/You ask me am I happy,well as a matter of fact/I can say that I'm ecstatic/Cause we all just made a pact/We've agreed to get together/Joined as children in Jah/When you're moving in the positive/Your destination is the brightest star/Didn't you know that you/Would be jammin'until the break of dawn/We're in the middle of the makin's of the master blaster jammin'

'Do Like You'is Wonder's funky dedication to his young son,Keita and the track is a nod to 'Isn't She Lovely' which was dedicated to his daughter Aisha(from the classic 1976 double album 'Songs In The Key Of Life')/The track opens with Keita's baby talk as his dad sings about his baby son entering a dance contest at school.The cut ends playfully with Aisha excitedly exclaims to her baby brother Keita,'Oooh you done broke momma's lamp!'with Keita responding back excitingly:'No I didn't!'

'Cash In Your Face'is the second song in Stevie Wonder's career where he addresses the master-slave relationship.Wonder first addressed this issue in 1971 from the classic album 'Where I'm Coming From'with the track 'I Wanna Talk To You'...'Cash In Your Face'is a racial rave up that details housing discrimination about a Blackman tryin' to achieve the american dream.No matter how much a Blackman achieves in his life,doors are still being slammed in his face.No where is this more evident in this angry cut as Wonder delivers this powerful piece of musical sound bite to the amerikkkan social order of society:'Well I thought the bill was passed that said you could not discriminate/but I know some excuse you'll find/I know your bottomline is:say you might have the cash/but you cannot cash in your face/we don't want your kind living in here...(While 'Happy Birthday' is Stevie's tribute to MLK,'Cash In Your Face'is indirectly tributed to MALCOLM X,the Black Nationalist Leader of the 1960s who preached that most of white amerikkka was against intergration.Wonder's 'Cash In Your Face' is a truth telling example detailing racism and discrimination.)'Lately'is a soulful but painful sad eyed tearful ballad about the premonition of love ending in heartbreak.Stevie is the lone musician on this track,playing just the piano and bass synthesizer.

'Happy Birthday'is Wonder's tribute to Martin Luther King,Jr.A beautiful message song with Wonder on the drums,arp,bass melodian,synthesizers,keyboards.The track details Wonder's own vision dream of Dr.King's birthday becoming a national holiday a reality.Thru the power of Stevie's music and political activism from 1979-1981,Wonder's dream along with Dr.King's own dream for racial balance,a holiday was finally realized.The crystal glowing track backed with radiant background vocalists ending the album in upbeat mellow joy to the heart.

My only gripe about this CD reissue of this classic legendary 1980 album is that Stevie and Motown omitted extensive musical treasures from this 2000 CD reissue.Inside the original album/lp release,there are additional lyrics for three songs with longer versions:'Did I Hear You Say You Love Me'(of which wonder released in 1984 as the b-side to the 12 inch single of 'Don't Drive Drunk'of which I own.'Did I Hear You Say You Love Me'is 8:40 long compared to the over 4 minute album version.'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It'also has additional lyrics and is a longer version than that of the album version.'As If You Read My Mind'also has additional lyrics and a longer version than the album cut.'Master Blaster(Jammin')'and 'Happy Birthday'are slightly longer 12 inch versions that were finally released 25 years later on Wonder's 2005 CD single 'Positivity'(from 'A Time 2 Love')/The question is why weren't these 12 inch versions of these songs included on the 'Hotter Than July'2000 CD reissue? By having these 12 inch remixes of the 5 songs mentioned would've certainly enhanced this 2000 CD reissue of the classic 1980 album 'Hotter Than July'/(Some Wonder fans have never heard the longer version of 'Did I Hear You Say You Love Me')It's going on 30 years and I've yet to hear the longer versions of 'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It'and 'As If You Read My Mind'
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Down to Earth
Down to Earth
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars stevie lands down to earth and lifting off in 1966, September 26, 2010
This review is from: Down to Earth (Audio CD)
(The Amazon product review description is incorrect.It has the Stevie Wonder remake of the Bob Dylan track,'Blowin' In The Wind'listed in this album.It is on the 'Uptight' album not on the'Down To Earth'album.)
In 1966,Stevie Wonder released two albums:'Uptight'and 'Down To Earth'/In both of these albums,Stevie's voice became of age.'Down To Earth'is the extension of 'Uptight'as his vocals and musicianship became more apparent.As usual,Motown had always have its artists have cover versions of other artists songs mixed in with Motown originals inside of their albums.This album is no different.Seven of the album's twelve tracks are originals including one Motown cover version.'Bang Bang'is Stevie's clever remake of the Sonny and Cher classic.'Lonesome Road' is a soulful remake and duet with his musical mentor Clarence Paul.'Mr.Tambourine Man' is Wonder's remake of the 1960s Bob Dylan classic and also a brooding cover version of the track 'Sixteen Tons'/Wonder is much closer to home with a nice cover version of his labelmates The Supremes on the track,'My World Is Empty Without You'/The seven track originals are this album's highlights.Tunes such as 'A Place In The Sun'and the album's title track,'Down To Earth'are slow but moderate numbers.'Thank You Love' is an uptempo gem alongside the other upbeat tracks 'Be Cool,Be Calm(And Keep Yourself Together)'and 'Angel Baby'which are in the blueprint of 'Uptight'/Other originals are the sweet ballad 'Sylvia'and the soulful r&b number 'Hey Love'

Stevie at the Beach
Stevie at the Beach

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars stevie surf music at the beach,1964, September 25, 2010
This review is from: Stevie at the Beach (Audio CD)
The beach surf craze of the 1960s became in full effect and was the popular trend of culture and 1964 was no different.America was riding high on the surf music made popular by the music group The Beach Boys and Hollywood at the time took advantage of this craze through movies.Motown Records also took note of this popular fad and threw one of their popular artist(s)Little Stevie Wonder in the beach craze frenzy mix.Although by the time Little Stevie recorded his 1964 album 'STEVIE AT THE BEACH'the 'little' tag was dropped from his name on the album cover.Wonder's 1964 album of beach music has some nice songs on it.Tracks such as 'Red Sails'/'Party At The Beach House'/The preppy 'Happy Street'/'Beachcomber'/'Castles In The Sand' and 'Hey Harmonica Man' were the hits off of this album.'Castles In The Sand'is a laid back hit with a spicy bongo flavor bracketed framed with beach and bird sounds complimented with Stevie's coming of age vocals.The album also has a mellow instrumental version of 'Castles In The Sand'/Also included are tracks such as the quiet mellow 'Sad Boy'/'Beachstomp'and my favorite cut on this album the laid back instrumental 'Ebb Tide' as Stevie's cool harmonica playing glides gracefully with his Motown backing band.Also during this period,Stevie appeared in two Hollywood motion pictures:'Muscle Beach Party'(starring Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon) and 'Bikini Beach Party' which also includes the 1964 Stevie track,'Clap Your Hands'

Tribute to Uncle Ray
Tribute to Uncle Ray
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars little stevie's tribute to his idol,ray charles, September 25, 2010
This review is from: Tribute to Uncle Ray (Audio CD)
Little Stevie Wonder's 1963 album 'TRIBUTE TO UNCLE RAY' is a collection of R&B remakes of his musical idol Ray Charles with three Motown originals thrown in for good measure.The young artist does not play any musical instruments on this album and just concentrates instead on his vocal abilities.Little Stevie does splendid renditions of legendary Ray Charles classics such as 'Hallelujah I Love her So'/'Ain't That Love'/'Don't You Know'/'(I'm Afraid)The Masquerade Is Over'/'Frankie & Johnny'/'Drown In My Own Tears'/'Come Back Baby'/'Mary Ann'...The three Motown originals are:'Frankie & Johnny'(arranged by Little Stevie's mentor,Clarence Paul)/'Sunset'(co-written by Little Stevie with his mentor Clarence Paul)and 'My Baby's Gone'(written by Motown Chairman Berry Gordy,Jr)/The track 'Sunset'although recorded in 1963,could also fit very well on Little Stevie's 1964 album,'STEVIE AT THE BEACH'...The tracks (I'm Afaid)The Masquerade Is Over/Hallelujah I Love Her So/Drown In My Own Tears and 'Don't You Know' were also recorded on the 1963 album, 'RECORDED LIVE-LITTLE STEVIE WONDER-THE 12 YEAR OLD GENIUS'

Fulfillingness' First Finale
Fulfillingness' First Finale
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ....stevie's musical finale...a musical dream reality...., June 15, 2005
stevie wonder's 1974 album 'fulfillingness first finale'is an album of musical ethereal is also mixed with social and spiritual overtones,romantic love and classic seventies funk.wonder produced and arranged this album for his taurus productions,inc.(black bull music)'fulfillingness first finale'would be the fourth straight album in a row of which wonder would be working with his hired synthesizer comrades robert margouleff and malcolm cecil.this 1974 masterpiece was recorded at the record plant-L.A./media sound-new york/westlake audio-L.A./and jimi hendrix's legendary electric ladyland studios-new york.also on hand were the recordists joan decola and gary olazabal.4 me as a child of the sixties and the seventies when i grew a little older 2 appreciate music even more,i was awestruck by stevie wonder's musical genius.

having been amazed by wonder's classic'innervisions'album the year before in 1973 as a 9 or 10 year old kid,'fulfillingness first finale'4 me brings back so many sweet memories when i was a child in elementary is the tradition that is of music,an artist will release singles before the actual album is released.i and many other fans of wonder could not wait 4 the release of this album.but first things are was those exciting 45 single discs!i remember as a ten year old kid going on eleven when stevie released the funk singles from this album:'you haven't done nothin'and 'boogie on reggae woman'both of these 45 singles were singles that my sweet mother bought 4 me in which i still do have 2 this a kid,i just completely wore out the grooves of these 45 singles til they were white!i still remember it like it was yesterday when my mother bought me the second single from the album,'boogie on reggae woman'-my mother thought that something was wrong with the needle on the beginning of the song.she actually thought that the needle was actually skipping from groove 2 groove on the 45 single.but that was the way stevie used that synthesizer effect on the song that caught my mother off guard'

'fulfillingness first finale'is the first album that my mother bought 4 me on an 8 track tape (of which that i still have 2 this day.)(ah,if only the young folk of today could just understand how special those times were when musicians PLAYED and singers SANG.)i also have the original album on vinyl format and now on cd.when my mother bought me this album on a white plasic 8 track tape cartridge in late 1974, i was excited as a child could be.i was also amazed by the amazing cover illustration of this album which was done by artist bob gleason. the title of this album came 2 stevie in a dream.'smile please'the moderate upbeat opener of the album,is a song that so much expresses that when sadness or unhappiness takes over smiling is the answer.there is not much lyrical content in the song,but it's few key lines make the message worth while:'a smiling face is an earthlike star-a frown can't bring out the beauty that you are;don't mess your face up with bitter tears cause life is gonna be what it is-love within and you'll begin smiling-there are brighter days ahead'...

the heavenly ethereal but spiritual 'heaven is 10 zillion light years away'is the first of the two spiritual songs on the album.(the other one is 'they won't go when i go')/'heaven is 10 zillion light years away'(my father's favorite cut on this album)(which also features paul anka,shirley brewer,larry latimer and stevie's ex-wife at the time the beautiful syreeta wright providing background vocals) with it's incredible melody has a message that is of the heavens and feeling the spirit of god while at the same time wonder addresses with biting stinging comentary in the song of which he addreses atheists:'for those who don't believe(in god)will never see the light'(institutional) racism done towards black people of which wonder cuts through the heart of the matter:'why must my color black make me a lessor man?'-'i thought this world was made for every man,he(god)loves us all'...'but in my heart i can feel it,feel his spirit'...wonder brilliantly mixed the wrong doings of man and heavenly enlightenment with this classic spiritual.

'too shy to say'is the first slow cut on the album.the song is about sensual longing with his woman but is being shy about expressing his feelings 2 her in that he really loves her.this slow cut has a slight'country and western'vibe 2 it.on the song,wonder has the classic legendary motown bassist james jamerson on acoustic bass and'sneakey'pete on pedal steel guitar.'boogie on reggae woman'with it's laid back caribbean-reggae groove has wonder playing all of the instruments except the the song,wonder expresses his vocal 'drawl'4 his hot desire for a 'reggae woman' whom he spots on the dance floor...'i like to see you boogie right across the floor-i like to do it to you-til you holla for more'...the 'drawl'that stevie uses in his voice is funny and funky at the same.the deep heavy synthesized bass groove on this cut controls the rhythm of the the groove picks up more momentum,wonder asks us ''can i play?-CAN I PLAY???(stevie's classic harmonica playing with vocal and instrumental interplay takes the song over the top)-another funny memory about this cut reminds me of my father back in the day.whenever i would play this song, stevie would ask can i play?my father would playfully shout back NO!!!this groove is still funky after 30 years and will remain funky 4 ever...

but 'creepin'(sorry luther vandross fans this is the original!)no matter how good the rest of this album is,'creepin'is my favorite cut on this album when i was a child and still is now that i'm an adult.for this cut,wonder returns back 2 his one man band persona.also for this track wonder has the beautiful minnie riperton providing her sweet sensual backing vocals in the song.the lyrics in this song 4 his lady are simply incredible:'when i'm sleep at night babaa,i feel those moments of ecstacy-when you sleep at night babaa i wonder do i creep into your dreams-or could it be i sleep alone in my fantasy....'oh love is so amazing-guess you will be stayin'-so let it be!that you always creep into my dreams...this classic dreamy technicolor slowjam is one 4 the special memory about this song was that when i was a ten or eleven year old kid back in the 5th grade when i was in elementary school,i would walk to school singing this song and thinking about the two girls in my class that i had a crush on.i had school boy dreams that i had married one of them.the first girl i had a crush on her name was donna and the other girl's name was robin.(even though i was 2 shy 2 express my feelings for either girl,it was only a puppylove fantasy.)ah,'creepin'was the jam back when i was a 10 or 11 year old kid and is still the jam now.

'you haven't done nothin'is the album's most powerful cut and the first single a kid i liked the song so much i begged my mother 2 buy the 45 single 4 me and she did.i remember playing this 45 everyday getting ready 4 school looking out the window and jamming 2 it by the playing the 45 single so much,i completely wore out the grooves 2 it until the single was damn near white!!!the song is stevie's vocal assault on the then so-called devil president richard 'TRICKY DICK'nixon.stevie's scathing assault on this bastard serves this devil right.wonder immediately cut thru the chase and and pulls no punches with no mercy blew this fool out the water with these scathing lyrics:'it's not to cool to be ridiculed,but you brought this upon yourself!'/'we would not care to wake up to the nightmare that's becoming real life...but when mislead who knows a person's mind can turn as cold as ice...'and we are sick and tired of hearing your song-tellin' how you are gonna change right from wrong-cause if you really want to hear our views,you haven't done nothin!'...stevie also has the group the jackson 5 harmonizing the doo doo wop background vocals in this scathing funk cut.

'it ain't no use'is a moderate ballad about the end of a love affair between a man and a woman(with backing vocals provided by lani groves,minnie riperton and deniece williams).in the song,wonder describes that love's fire had burned out and the relationship cannot be saved,but still offered hope and redemption 4 the both of them 2 find love anew:'we still are young and both of us have time to find our winter love in spring'...of course by the song's end the breakup is official:'it ain't no use cause we done run out of juice'and he tells her:'so long baby,bye bye baby'...

'they won't go when i go'is the second and final spiritual cut on the with yvonne wright,the song is spiritually powerful with wonder's opening quiet piano would be almost a full minute until wonder began his serious spiritual the song,wonder intones to us all that GOD wants us 2 steer away from those who are not of good and are of the evil persuasion.the song's key dramatic section when he states:'unclean minds mislead the pure/the innocent will leave for sure/for them there's a resting place/people sinning just for fun/they will never see the sun/for they can never show their faces/there ain't no room for the hopeless sinner/who will take more than he will give'...wonder's spiritual message is clear.there are those of us who want peace thru all eternity and there are those of us who do not.the final lyrics 2 this song completes it's message:'since my soul conceived/all that i believe/the kingdom i will see/cause they won't go when i go/and i'll go where i'll go /no one can keep me from my...DESTINY/they won't go WHEN I GO...4 me personally after hearing this spiritual cut no matter what one's spiritual affiliation is,you cannot helped but be moved by this classic,spiritual meditation piece.

'bird of beauty'is a similar twin 2 'smile please'but is more musically vibrant.the song has an unusual beginning and is also sung in 2 different's message is for one to relax their mind when one is in stress.shirley brewer,lani groves and deneice williams provide exciting vocals 2 start the song off and they shine throughout the song.with free your mind lyrics,we all need time off and wonder delivers these time 2 relax sentiments:'simon says that now your mind desires a vacation/free it to join in fun and plenty recreation/there awaits you a ticket at ''please have a good time station''...these lyrics are for one 2 escape and to get away and let the mind and soul be free while at the same time wonder warns his listeners 2 enjoy life but leave the trappings of drugs alone when he states:'there is so much in life for you to feel/unfound in white,red or yellow pills/a mind excursion can be such a thrill/you please satisfy-take a chance and ride/the bird of beauty of the sky...stevie thanked jazz musician sergio mendes for the translation of lyrics on 'bird of beauty'to portuguese for him 2 be able 2 speak 2 his beautiful people of mozambique and the beautiful people of brazil.

'smile please'is the final upbeat cut from this classic's message is not for his woman 2 leave him in the midst of a breakup:'and i'll do everything you want me to/if you promise that you won't leave tonight/cause i'll cry a river of tears/with just the thought of you not here in my life'...the track has a strong climatic finish and ending with wonder begging 4 his woman 2 stay with him in the midnight hours and 2 never leave him,ending the album with an exhaustive breathtaking an 11 year old kid my father and i attended his concert together when he came 2 dallas and i still have his 1974 concert brochure entitled 'stevie wonder's fall festival tour'...stevie wonder would win grammies for his 'fulfillingness first finale'album in march,1975...
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