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DAR Music: The 5 Greatest Stevie Wonder Albums

By @TrueGodImmortal


There are some artists who have showcased longevity in music beyond belief, working their way up to becoming true legends in the process. If there is one artist that embodies the term legend, it's definitely Stevie Wonder. With nearly 60 years in music under his belt, Stevie has given us classic after classic and hit after hit, and as far as albums go, he has some of the most pivotal albums to be released in soul music. With a massive discography under his belt, we wanted to try and narrow it down to his 5 best albums. This is of course a tough task considering Stevie has so many great albums, but these 5 albums are the most impactful, important, and just overall the best in his catalog. Let's take a look at the 5 greatest Stevie Wonder albums.

5. Hotter Than July (1980)




-I debated putting Fulfillingness' First Finale in this spot, but I'll admit, I have a personal bias to Hotter Than July that I just couldn't ignore. While there are other albums from Stevie that could fit in this spot I'm sure, I think this is an undeniable classic and a change of pace for Stevie. The album would end up becoming his most successful in the UK and as times began changing, Stevie managed to adapt while staying true to his own artistic integrity. After a bit of a disappointment with his previous project, Stevie returned to form and delivered an amazing listen from start to finish, balancing catchy anthems like the MLK tribute (and an unofficial birthday song for many) "Happy Birthday" and the iconic "Master Blaster" with ballads like "Lately" and my personal favorite "Rocket Love", with pure hits like "All I Do". This album has so much great music on it that it's just undeniable as a project and truly one of the best releases from Stevie.

4. Music Of My Mind (1972)




-This is what I consider a turning point in the career of Stevie. He wasn't the young, happy go lucky teen that took over music in the 60s, and he was evolving as an artist for sure. This album signaled the beginning of his prime musically, and it features one of the greatest songs to ever come from Stevie. One thing that makes this album so potent is the instrumentation, as harmonicas, fender rhodes, keyboards, synthesizers and bass all combine to create lush sounds for Stevie to sing his soul out on. While I love tracks like "Keep On Running", "Happier Than The Morning Sun", "Girl Blue", and "Seems So Long", for me, the greatest song on this album comes early on in the project. There are many songs in Stevie's catalog that mean a lot to me personally, but every time I  hear "Superwoman", it reminds me of my grandmother. One, because it was one of her favorite songs. Two, because her name is Mary. This is a song that actually holds a special place based on the memories I have of listening to it around my grandmother, but it is also just a very powerful song, especially when it gets to the breakdown and second part. For that one song alone, Music Of My Mind is deserving of a spot on the list, but the rest of the album is so amazing, there's no way I could make a top 5 list and not include it.

3. Talking Book (1972)




-A lot of people have personally called this album his greatest and to be honest, that's not really a stretch. Stevie crafted one hell of a gem with this one, as he was entering what many consider to be his classic period and prime. This album was his 15th release (how many people do you know that hit their stride and prime on the 15th project) and saw Stevie exhibiting much more creative musical freedom, and the result is something special. Stevie incorporates more of his special keyboard work, utilizing synthesizers to add an element of funk to a number of songs. One of his greatest singles, "Superstition" comes from this album, and that's a song that is still loved and appreciated today. However, for me, the best song on this album is one of my all time favorite Stevie songs, as the smooth "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" kicks off the listening experience being the first track on the project. Other great tracks on this album include "Blame It On The Sun", "Big Brother", "You've Got It Bad Girl", and "Maybe Your Baby", all of which help to round out one of Stevie's most complete albums.

2. Innervisions (1973)



-It was a toss up between the no. 1 and no. 2 choices. I love both of these albums equally, and it was virtually impossible to make a solid and concrete choice. The thing about the classics from Stevie are that they are so close in quality, your top 3-5 choices can be interchangeable depending on the week. That's the mark of a true legendary artist of course, but with this 1973 release, Stevie ascended even higher to the next level as a musician. There are only a few albums that I consider flawless in music, and I would consider Innervisions to be right there as one. Many people associate this album with the recovery from the disastrous accident that sidelined Stevie for months following the release, and while this album came out just before that incident, one would think this album has a special place in his catalog for that reason. Aside from any incidents that surrounded the release of this album, it is a beautiful piece of art filled with amazing music from top to bottom. Some of the best songs from Stevie can of course be found on this album, with "Living For The City" being one of his biggest hits, alongside other classics like "Higher Ground", "All In Love Is Fair", "Don't You Worry About A Thing", and my favorite, "Golden Lady". There are moments in time that an artist might not be able to duplicate, and Stevie has had a number of those timeless moments. Innervisions might be his most potent moment musically and if you had this album as your no. 1, I can't really dispute that. It's just as good as my no. 1 choice.

1. Songs In The Key Of Life (1976)




-I debated about putting this at no. 2, but when I went back to listen and revisit this album, it was clear to me, I had to place it at no. 1. Stevie was on such a roll from 1971 through 1974 that when he took a year off from releasing albums (this project was originally scheduled for October 1975, but was pushed back a whole year by Stevie), it definitely had to come as a shock to fans. Well, with more time in between releases, perhaps he had the opportunity to simply perfect his work and as a result, we got his best album. The album was admittedly ambitious for the time, a double album that featured Wonder at his most poignant and brilliant. It is the most critically acclaimed and highest selling album in his catalog, and with good reason. Originally titled Let's See Life The Way It Is, Stevie would compile 17 of the best tracks of his career and give the world an album that we'll never forget. At the time, there was also a 4 track EP included with the album, giving fans 21 songs of Stevie after the two year layoff. There are some amazing songs on this project, with tracks like "Sir Duke" and "I Wish" becoming hits due to the upbeat energy within them, while Stevie also provided classic ballads like "Knocks Me Off My Feet" and "Joy Inside My Tears", as well as extremely infectious gems like "As", "Another Star", and my favorite "Isn't She Lovely". Perfection in music is very fleeting, but Stevie managed to pull it off once again with Songs In The Key Of Life. Whether your no. 1 choice is Innervisions or Songs In The Key Of Life, the fact remains that Stevie has crafted so many great albums and has a truly amazing catalog, showing the mark of one of the greatest legends music has ever seen.


-True

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