News for the ‘Stevie Wonder’ Category

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #13 – Stevie Wonder: “Superstition” b/w “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” – Motown 45 RPM Single Y559F (E2/F2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #13 – Stevie Wonder: “Superstition” b/w “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” – Motown 45 RPM Single Y559F (E2/F2)

The A-Side of today’s double A-sided jukebox single was the lead single from Stevie Wonder’s landmark album Talking Book. Jeff Beck guested on the album playing guitar on the song “Looking For Another Pure Love.” While in the studio, Beck came up with the drum pattern that kicks “Superstition” into motion. From there, Wonder added the funky clavinet riff that runs through the song and a classic was born. After Wonder wrote the song, he offered it to Beck to record.

In the meantime, Motown chief Berry Gordy heard Wonder’s version and immediately knew it was a surefire smash and pressured Wonder to release it as a single before Beck could commit his version to tape. “Superstition” went on to become Wonder’s second chart-topping hit, his first since “Fingertips” hit the top of the charts in 1963. Jeff Beck was given the song “Because We’ve Ended As Lovers” as a consolation prize which he recorded for his 1975 album Blow By Blow. Beck later recorded Wonder’s “Superstition” with the group Beck, Bogart & Appice.

When Wonder turned 21, he renegotiated his contract with Motown Records giving him total control over his music with increased royalties and publishing. The first fruit of his negotiation was the album Music Of My Mind that included “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You),” the flip side of today’s double-A sided jukebox classic.

The song was one of the first tracks that Wonder worked on with Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff who invented the TONTO (The Original New Tumbrel Orchestra) synthesizer and recorded under the name Tonto’s Expanding Head Band. Margouleff: “Stevie showed up [at our studio] with the TONTO LP under his arm. He said, ‘I don’t believe this was all done on one instrument. Show me the instrument.’ He was always talking about seeing. So we dragged his hands all over the instrument, and he thought he’d never be able to play it. But we told him we’d get it together for him.” (songfacts.com) The duo would go on to help shape the recording of Wonder’s Talking Book, Innervisions and Fullfillingness’ First Finale albums.

Wonder is heard playing all of the instruments on the record including the TONTO, except for the electric guitar which was played by Buzz Feiten and the trumpet and saxophone played respectively by Steve Madaio and Trevor Laurence.

The song clocked in at over eight minutes in its original guise on the Music Of My Mind album and was written about former Motown secretary and Wonder’s first wife Syreeta Wright. The lyric “trying to boss the bull around” is about Syreeta trying to exert some control on Wonder who is a Taurus.

The first part of the song talks about “Mary’s” desire to leave her current life behind to chase the goal of stardom. The song’s second “Where Were You When I Needed You” part finds the song’s narrator wondering when she will be coming back and why it is taking so long. Musically, the second part of the song was a re-working of Wonder’s 1971 single “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” from his Where I’m Coming From album. The song was released as a single and climbed to the #33 slot on the pop charts. Indeed, Wonder’s marriage to Syreeta broke up soon after he completed work on Music of My Mind.”

Both songs on today’s Jukebox classic double A-sided single were originally issued as separate singles, each with a different B-side. The original B-side to “Superstition” was “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” and the original “Superwoman” B-side was “I Love Every Little Thing About You.”

The clip of “Superstition” accompanying this piece is an alternate live in-studio performance of the track with a full backing band.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: March 31st, 2015

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Creepin’” By Stevie Wonder

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Creepin’” By Stevie Wonder

When it comes to a vibe, this song’s got it all in spades.

Today’s Song Of The Day comes from 1974′s Fulfillingness’ First Finale which was released shortly after Wonder’s near-death car accident, making this album an all-the-more-important part of his canon.

However, at the time of its release, it was seen as somewhat of a disappointment following nearly-perfect records like Innervisions (1973) and Talking Book (1972). And if that wasn’t enough, the record that followed it was 1976′s Songs In The Key Of Life which was also critically acclaimed, leading most people to gloss over this record.

Upon closer inspection, Fulfillingness’” has much to offer with classics like “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away,” “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” “It Ain’t No Use,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and “Please Don’t Go.”

Here’s the bottom line: the run of records Stevie Wonder released from 1971′s Music Of My Mind through 1976′s Songs In The Key Of Life should be an essential part of any music collection and not to be missed!

Edited: July 24th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #13 – Stevie Wonder: “Superstition” b/w “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” – Motown 45 RPM Single Y559F (E2/F2)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #13 – Stevie Wonder: “Superstition” b/w “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” – Motown 45 RPM Single Y559F (E2/F2)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

The A-Side of today’s double A-sided jukebox single was the lead single from Stevie Wonder’s landmark album Talking Book. Jeff Beck guested on the album playing guitar on the song “Looking For Another Pure Love.” While in the studio, Beck came up with the drum pattern that kicks “Superstition” into motion. From there, Wonder added the funky clavinet riff that runs through the song and a classic was born. After Wonder wrote the song, he offered it to Beck to record.

In the meantime, Motown chief Berry Gordy heard Wonder’s version and immediately knew it was a surefire smash and pressured Wonder to release it as a single before Beck could commit his version to tape. “Superstition” went on to become Wonder’s second chart-topping hit, his first since “Fingertips” hit the top of the charts in 1963. Jeff Beck was given the song “Because We’ve Ended As Lovers” as a consolation prize which he recorded for his 1975 album Blow By Blow. Beck later recorded Wonder’s “Superstition” with his group Beck, Bogart & Appice.

When Wonder turned 21, he renegotiated his contract with Motown Records giving him total control over his music with increased royalties and publishing. The first fruit of his negotiation was the album Music Of My Mind that included “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You),” the flip side of today’s double-A sided jukebox classic.

The song was one of the first tracks that Wonder worked on with Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff who invented the TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra) synthesizer and recorded under the name Tonto’s Expanding Head Band. Margouleff: “Stevie showed up [at our studio] with the TONTO LP under his arm. He said, ‘I don’t believe this was all done on one instrument. Show me the instrument.’ He was always talking about seeing. So we dragged his hands all over the instrument, and he thought he’d never be able to play it. But we told him we’d get it together for him.” The duo would go on to help shape the recording of Wonder’s Talking Book, Innervisions and Fullfillingness’ First Finale albums.

Wonder is heard playing all of the instruments on the record including the TONTO, except for the electric guitar which was played by Buzz Feiten and the trumpet and saxophone played respectively by Steve Madaio and Trevor Laurence.

The song clocked in at over eight minutes in its original guise on the Music Of My Mind album and was about former Motown secretary and Wonder’s first wife Syreeta Wright. The lyric “trying to boss the bull around” is about Syreeta trying to exert some control on Wonder who is a Taurus.

The first part of the song talks about “Mary’s” desire to leave her current life behind to chase the goal of stardom. The song’s second “Where Were You When I Needed You” part finds the song’s narrator wondering when she will be coming back and why it is taking so long. Musically, the second part of the song was a re-working of Wonder’s 1971 single “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” from his Where I’m Coming From album. The song was released as a single and climbed to the #33 slot on the pop charts. Indeed, Wonder’s marriage to Syreeta broke up soon after he completed work on Music Of My Mind.”

Both songs on today’s Jukebox classic double A-sided single were originally issued as separate singles, each with a different B-side. The original B-side to “Superstition” was “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” and the original “Superwoman” B-side was “I Love Every Little Thing About You.”

The clip of “Superstition” accompanying this piece is an alternate live in-studio performance of the track with a full backing band.

Edited: October 23rd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/21/13 – “We Can Work It Out” by Stevie Wonder

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “We Can Work It Out” by Stevie Wonder

He was no longer little…but he was not yet big either…

By 1970, Stevie Wonder had grown restless with the constraints that Motown Records put upon his creativity. Rather than continue to create commercial fodder that was sure to climb the charts, Wonder wanted to dig deeper by addressing social concerns with his music, and exploring different instrumentation on his records. On his 1970 album Signed, Sealed & Delivered, he began to spread his musical wings and display a newfound maturity in his songwriting and his singing, particularly on songs like “I Can’t Let Heaven Walk Away,” “Something To Say” and “Never Had A Dream Come True.”

Sure, he still had the ability to give Motown what they wanted, but Wonder craved more control over his recordings, and for this album he wrote or co-wrote seven of the tracks and received full production credit for the first time. (In reality, he actually only produced two of the tracks and co-produced three more.)

Along with the hit title track (#1 R&B, #3 Pop), the album also featured the singles “Heaven Help Us All” (#9 Pop), “Never Had a Dream Come True” (#11 R&B) and Wonder’s cover of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” (#13 Pop). Wonder’s version of the Beatles classic announces its intention right from the get-go with one of the most succinct and exciting organ intros ever to grace the Motown label. From there, it’s a non-stop soul fest compete with Wonder’s exuberant lead vocals over funky harmonica riffing flying around the mix. The recording earned Wonder his second Grammy Award nomination, for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, while the album hit #25 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and also climbed to the #7 spot on the R&B Albums chart.

The song was credited to Lennon and McCartney; however the lyrics were primarily written by McCartney and were about his relationship with then girlfriend Jane Asher. The Beatles’ recorded it during the sessions for Rubber Soul, and released it as one side of a double A-sided single with “Day Tripper” on the flip.

Wonder’s version was heard playing over the closing credits of the 2005 film Kicking And Screaming. He also performed his version of the song at The White House to honor Paul McCartney in 2010 when McCartney was awarded the Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress.

While the release of “Signed, Sealed & Delivered” was a somewhat tentative step toward full-blown maturity and artistic control on vinyl, it did bring Wonder one step closer creating world class albums like Music Of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale and Songs In The Key Of Life.

Edited: September 20th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/14/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Creepin’” by Stevie Wonder

Today’s Song Of The Day is from Stevie Wonder’s 1974 album Fulfillingness’ First Finale which was released shortly after a car accident that almost took his life, making the album an all-the-more-important part of his canon. While on tour in North Carolina in August of 1973, Wonder’s car smashed into the back of a logging truck, and the bed of the truck crashed into the windshield of his car. Wonder suffered head injuries that left him in a coma for four days. He also partially lost his sense of smell and temporarily lost his sense of taste.

The brush with death had a great impact on the tone of the album, bringing a renewed spirituality and an awareness of his mortality to the lyrics. During the first interview he gave at the hospital several days after the accident, Wonder had this to say: “I was unconscious, and that for a few days, I was definitely in a much better spiritual place that made me aware of a lot of things that concern my life and my future, and what I have to do to reach another higher ground.”

At the time of its release, Fulfillingness’ was seen as somewhat of a disappointment following nearly-perfect records like Innervisions and Talking Book. It also didn’t help that his next record was 1976′s Songs In The Key Of Life which was a critically acclaimed double album, leading most people to gloss over this record.

However, upon closer inspection, Fulfillingness’ is a first rate collection of songs that finds Stevie Wonder in transition, but still stands mighty tall amongst his other releases. And any album that can sport classics like “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away,” “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” “It Ain’t No Use,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” “They Won’t Go When I Go” and “Please Don’t Go” betters most of the records on the musical landscape circa 1974.

Like on his previous albums, Wonder played almost all of the instruments here, enlisting  first class help from Michael Sembello on guitar, Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel,  James Jamerson and Reggie McBride on bass, and on background vocals The Jackson 5, Minnie Riperton, Deniece Williams, Paul Anka, Syreeta Wright, The Persuasions, Shirley Brewer and Jim Gilstrap.

The album was his first to top the Billboard album charts and it spawned two big singles including the funky “Boogie on Reggae Woman” (#1 R&B/#3 Pop) and his indictment of the Nixon administration, “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” (#1 R&B/#1 Pop) featuring background vocals by the Jackson 5. It also won three Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal, Best Male Rhythm and Blues Vocal Performance (for “Boogie On Reggae Woman”), and Album of the Year.

When it comes to a vibe, today’s Song Of The Day has it all: dreamy atmosphere, lush melody and deeply romantic lyrics. The song features Wonder on lead and background vocals, Fender Rhodes, harmonica, drums, Moog bass and T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer. Crucially, the vibe comes down to the T.O.N.T.O. (The Original New Timbral Orchestra) synthesizer that was the first and largest multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer in the world. It was brought into the fray by Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff and used on Wonder’s three previous albums. The female background vocals on the track were supplied by Minnie Riperton, and the song was also covered by Luther Vandross and Kenny Rankin.

Bottom line: the run of records Stevie Wonder released from 1971′s Music Of My Mind through 1976′s Songs In The Key Of Life are an essential part to any comprehensive music collection!

Well, it seems that Stevie Wonder’s recording of “Creepin’” has been blockedon YouTube by thought police (or is that the thoughtless police) at the record companies. So if you have Spotify or this Stevie Wonder album, I recommend that you cue it up and enjoy it while reading this…and if you don’t have it, buy it immediately…and you can thank me later.

Edited: June 13th, 2013

Song Of The Day – 1/22/11

Song Of The Day – “Creepin’” By Stevie Wonder

When it comes to a vibe, this song’s got it all in spades. From 1974′s “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” comes this romantic number released shortly after Wonder’s near-death car accident, making this album an all-the-more-important part of his canon. At the time of its release, it was seen as somewhat of a disappointment following nearly-perfect records like “Innervisions” and “Talking Book.” The record that followed it was 1976′s “Songs In The Key Of Life” which was also critically acclaimed, leading most people to gloss over this record.  Upon closer inspection though, “Fulfillingness’” has much to offer with classics like “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away,” “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” “It Ain’t No Use,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and “Please Don’t Go.” Bottom line: the run of records Stevie Wonder released from 1971′s “Music Of My Mind” through 1976′s “Songs In The Key Of Life” should be an essential part of any music collection and not to be missed!

Listen: “Creepin’” by Stevie Wonder

Edited: January 22nd, 2011