The Freelance Mentalists.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
  Okay This Really Pisses Me Off to No End
To all the lazy-ass music writers who mischaracterize Stevie Wonder's career as being split between his "funk" period of the 1970s and his "pop" period of the 1980s and 1990s: STOP IT YOU ARE LYING, OR STUPID. Stevie always had sappy ballad stuff, even on the dynamic duo of Innervisions and Talking Book. Yes he did, listen to them sometime. Hell, he even had a couple on my all-time favorite Stevie record, Music of My Mind. (Okay, it's not my favorite, Songs in the Key of Life is my favorite, but MoMM is a "better" album.) And Stevie busted out with a couple of really hard heavy funk songs in the last 20 years, but no one noticed except I guess me.

Here's the thing with Stevie: he's a soft-hearted guy, and he doesn't care about hiding it, and it doesn't matter. As he says on the new record, A Time to Love, he CHOOSES to be positive because he knows the world is full of shit and he knows he can restore some happiness to it. Okay that's a paraphrase but still. He's always been a Manicheist, the light and the dark, hitting us with the chamber-synth formalism while narrating the harsh conditions of "Village Ghetto Land," setting romantic lyrics to the saddest music ever and vice versa, I could go on but I won't because I'm hoping to get paid for reviewing this new album, because it's really damned good and I want people to know about it, plus I want my $10.54 investment to actually pay off for once.

All I'm saying is, saying that STEVIE FRICKIN' WONDER was once just a funk merchant who sold out to do lite R & B is a damned lie. Sure, he fell off after (AFTER NOT BEFORE, Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants is a beautiful record) Hotter Than July, but not the way it's being portrayed. Stevie's heart never changed. Y'all just stopped listening. For shame.
 
Comments:
Hmmm. I think I had "Talking Book' on cassette. Years later I saw Stevie at the Capital Centre, must have been around 81 or so. I need to re-listen to Stevie from all eras. I haven't heard the new one yet. -Steve K.
 
I've always liked a lot of his ballads, especially "My Cherie Amour." He puts as much life forceinto and through the best of those as he does into what gets profiled as his funk. (And what would you call "I Was Made To Love Her"? Certainly not a ballad in the laidback and/or salon and/or lounge sense.)New album, which I haven't heard, has been getting good reviews, this year's Musicology, seems to be the usual angle. Glad they tend to mention his most (but not very) recent, Conversation Peace (goodun). Now there's something you don't see every day!
 
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