2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One of Mr. wonders best. Now in DTS HD 96/24 what more could you ask. Beautiful warm sound. No compression. This format is really the best way to enjoy your music. This was a excellent album to put out in the first batch. anyone who has heard this record knows what a masterpiece it is.
The Blu ray Audio discs give a much richer sound then any other format. There is no question about that. My problem is why are they so hard to find?
on June 9, 2004
I went on a huge Stevie Wonder CD kick....everything from the Little Stevie album to this one. By far, this album is one of my favorites. Stevie Wonder's amazing, prolific, engaging, heartfelt lyrics, beautiful voice, and luscious arrangements are a definite plus!
This album was originally released in the 1970s, but the political and social messages are still relevant today. The songs that come to mind are "Love's In Need of Love Today," "Have a Talk With God," and "Black Man." Not only are the rhythms and arrangements funky, original and a perfect blend of R&B and funk, but you find yourself singing alonig (at least I do!). Also, the love songs on this album can't be beat. I can't tell you how many times I hit "replay" on track #7 on disc one. ("Knocks Me Off My Feet")
Not only is this a great album for serious Stevie fans, but it is a great introduction to those who are not as familiar with his work. These are the songs that are true examples of musical genius!
on March 15, 2004
Well it is!For those few Stevie Wonder fans unlucky enough never to have heard this or for those just becoming iniciated
"Songs In The Key Of Life" is ALOT to digest.It's a double album
containing no filler songs,no covers of other's songs and ALOT
of musical ideas!Much of the action centers around the amazingly
fascile Yamaha GX-1 polyphonic synthesizer throwing a great,heavy
wash of sound over the classically inclined "Village Ghetto Land",the cosmic "Have A Talk With God" and the already crowded
jam/history lesson 'Black Man",a simply goose bump-inducing funk
number that pops,bristles and throws as much heavy electronic at
you as it can.The talanted but sadly little known late harpist Dorthy Ashby alone backs up Wonder on the phenomenal "If It's Magic" and guitarists Michael Sembello rocks out on the glorious
jazz-fusion instrumental of "Contusion"."Pastime Paradise" and "Another Star" blend orchestral latin percussion with massive chordal complexity that's difficult but accessible too.
"Saturn" blends a cosmic lyric with a very earthbound tune while
the pastoral groove of "Summer Soft" bleeds uncontrollably into
the darkly moody "Ordinary Pain".And oh yeah there's also the Wonder classics "Isn't She Lovely","I Wish","Sir Duke","Ebony Eyes" and the groovalistic "All Day Sucker".If I forgot to mention the rest of the songs here it's because no matter what
level of interest you have in Stevie Wonder you,my friends,will
find what your looking for here!
on January 17, 2004
Songs In The Key Of Life is a album that will stand the test of time. In my opinion, this was more sprawling than Innervisions, Talking Book, Music Of My Mind, and Fulfillingness' First Finale. On Songs In The Key Of Life, Stevie talks about everything that is going on in the world. He talks about love, racism, violence, and feelings. This summed up pretty much of everything he recorded in 1972-1974. If you listen to every track on this album, you can visualize everything he says. I think that "Sir Duke", "I Wish", "Isn't She Lonely" and "As" are the popular songs on here, possibly the best on here. There is a lot of filler here, though. For instance, "Love's In Need Of Love Today", "Have A Talk With God", and "Black Man" are just for your listening pleasure. My favorite song is "Knocks Me Off My Feet". It's maybe the most romantic songs on this masterpiece. There are a lot of guest appearances. Herbie Hancock plays keyboards on "As", Geogre Benson plays guitar and sings background vocals on "Another Star", and more artists make appearances. This is maybe one of my favorite double albums. Songs In The Key Of Life explains why Stevie Wonder is considered a genuis. It might be overrated, but it's the greatest Stevie Wonder album of all-time. It has influenced me a whole lot.
on December 25, 2003
In my opinion, Stevie Wonder is the greatest artist EVER!! Elvis wished he could worked it like this, but he couldn't. SO many artists have taken Stevie's style and try to claim it as their own, for example Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys. But its safe to say, no one (in my generation) will touch this master. Songs like "Love's In Need Of Love Today" and "Have A Talk With God" sounds just as fresh today, like it did back in the 70s. The classics from this masterpiece "Sir Duke", "I Wish", "As", "Isn't She Lovely" and "Knocks Me Off My Feet" still sends chill up/down my spine. And songs like "Black Man" and "Ebony Eyes" needs to be heard today more than ever. Another personal favorite of mine is "Ngiculela/Es Una Historia/I Am Singing", Stevie was one of the few artists back in the 60s and 70s that recorded songs in multiple languages. If you are a music fan, your collection is not complete without this cd. Get it now!!
on October 14, 2003
The Beatles released close to a dozen albums of original material in 7 years. The Stones kept up with that schedule. Paul McCartney & Wings were on the same output ratio. Elton John had a new album out every ten months. Even Led Zeppelin would never think of having more than 18 months between releases.
Stevie himself had annual releases before this. His last three, Fulfillingness' First Finale, Talking Book, and Innervisions all won Grammy Album of the year.
Then Stevie took two years to make this album. Two whole years.
And turned out a masterpiece. Sure, there's a couple of tracks (e.g. "Black Man") where I'd hit the Skip button. But so many brilliant tracks! Such variety! Such virtuousity! It seemed incapable that any one person could produce all the types of music on this CD. Certainly, no one today is capable.
It was an instant #1 album, in a time when there were virtually no instant #1 albums, a complete critical and commercial success.
And the labels got the idea that if everyone waited two years between albums, they'd all be this good.
So two or three or more years between albums became the norm.
I'm still waiting for another album this good. It could be a long wait.
on September 29, 2003
I've given this recording five stars for what the music is; I am comparing the album to other Stevie Wonder albums. This is the best I've heard.
A lot of Wonder's hit material come from this double-set, like "Sir Duke", "I Wish" & "Isn't She Lovely" ("Superstition" is not included here, though). Everybody on our planet (including YOU) have heard "Isn't She Lovely" by now. It has probably been played every day on different radio stations since its release. The only difference from the radio versions is that on this album you get the additional three minutes that often are left out.
A huge amount of time is spent on the sounds and the perfection in performance; it's certainly not made in a rush. Extraordinary things have been done in the recording-studio to accomplish certain sounds - a lot of choirs are used, a lot of ultra-funky synthesizers are being used, a lot of different percussion are used throughout and on "Black Man" 15 teachers can be heard teaching history to 30 children. Hundreds of people participated in the musical performance on this recording - including Herbie Hancock on "As" and George Benson on "Another Star".
"Joy inside my tears" is a highlight. Its refrain goes on and on for about four minutes at the end, and once the song stops, it feels like it didn't repeat enough; The song is VERY entertaining despite its composional simplicity, which is the case with most of the songs. The bonus track "All Day Sucker" is about as funky as anything will ever be - very original considering it's 1976. Stevie Wonder should have been given, and should be given a Grammy every year for this album.
...and last, for those who have the nerve to ask... No, "Pastime Paradise" was not written by either Coolio or Ray Barretto - it's written by, and orinally performed by Stevie Wonder, and it can be heard at its best on "Songs In The Key of Life".
on September 18, 2003
What can I say about Songs that has not been said before? Probably not much but I'll try my best. I've always said that I feel Innervision is Stevie's best work. Mainly because I feel that it had great, pure song writing on it, whereas on Songs, Stevie sometimes overindulges. I guess you can look at it this way: Innervisions is Stevie Wonder's personal best but Songs is the most important Stevie Wonder album ever in regards to music history. What makes Songs so incredibly important to music history is that it is done in an epic fashion. It's all encompassing musically and themewise. Stevie is all over the place in this one. No artist before had dived so deeply into his music before. It's been described as a Noah's ark-tpye of event because Stevie, known by this time as the one man band, brings just about all his family, friends and relatives to help him out on this one. Because the album is so mammoth in size (2 full albums plus an extra 45 with 2 songs on each side), there is no way I can do my usual song by song review in 1000 words or less. I will mention the stand outs though.
Loves In Need of Love Today: Probably the best opener of any Stevie album. A great introduction to what follows on this amazing disc. Have a Talk With God: One of the best spiritual songs of his career. He weaves syncopated rhythms and synth together to make a great sound. Village Ghetto Land: Stevie sarcastically uses strings to talk about the horrors of the ghetto. Some lines are absurd but they are to make a point. What's going on in the ghetto, or any slum, is absurd and needs to be dealt with. Sir Duke: His salute to the jazz greats of the past. I Wish: A classic. Stevie's amazing keyboards, electric horns and snappy drums mix to make a delicious noise in this song about childhood misbehaving. There is no way to listen to this song and not remember when you were a kid. Again, a classic. Pasttime Paradise: Synth strings, Hari Krishna rhythm and vocals and a full gospel chior melt together in this great peice of songwriting. The melody was used in Coolio's Gangster's Paradise. Another classic. Isn't She Lovely: Is there anyone that didn't think of this song when either seeing their child being born or holding it for the first time? I didn't think so. This one sports a great melody, some of the best ever singing by Stevie, and for sure some of the best ever harmonica work by him. It's a song filled with joy and wonderment and a fitting salute to parenthood. I Am Singing: This song is sung in Swahili, Spanish and English. Again this is a global epic. Stevie puts on a show in the vocal here and the percussion is latin in feel. A beautiful song. If It's Magic: Another classic. How many can you fit on one album Stevie? It's harp, voice and harmonica melding into one of the softest, yet most powerful callings for love and peace ever written. As: I've always considered this song the most cosmic love song of all time. It's easily one of the stand outs on the incredible disc. It last almost 8 minutes in length and starts off as what we think will be just another nice mid-tempo love song by Stevie. Maybe like Knocks Me Off My Feet heard earlier on this same album. It is anything but. Generally speaking you can say it's a song where he's professing his undying love to his woman. But with keyboards by Stevie and Greg Phillinganes, an interlude by Stevie doing his best Louis Armstrong growl ever, and background vocals by just about everyone under the sun including Stevie's woman at the time Yolanda Simmons and his sister Renee Hardaway, this is a small ark inside of the bigger one which is the album itself. It's a song that is irrisistable to not absolutely love because of so much love coming out of it. And it is hands down the best use of repetivity used by not only Stevie but by any other popular artist ever. A must hear. Ebony Eyes: Another tribute to the black woman from Stevie. He'd done this earlier in Innervisions with Golden Lady. Although Golden Lady was more romantic, I prefer the more fun loving Ebony Eyes. It starts with the sounds of young black girls playing jump rope which melts into a very tin pan alley sounding piano part. It's a fun song and the only thing serious in it is Stevie's love of black women. Easy Goin' Evening (My Mama's Call): For so many years I'd wanted to hear a Stevie harmonica instramental and in this song I finally get it. As the title says, it's an easy goin' track that consist of harmonica, bass and drum only. It's like a quiet summer night on the front porch of your mom's house. And, after the amazing ark before it, it is the perfect close to the album.
Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life is a masterpiece not despite it's overindulgences but because of them. The chances he took and the all emcompassing vision he saw on this album opened the door for so many other artist (see Outkast's new disk Speakerboxx/Love Below) to take those same chances and see the same visions. And with some of our better artist, maybe even go beyond. It was the first of it's kind and still the best. BUY THIS CD. You will own a piece of history.
on August 31, 2003
Anyone who says this is Stevie's best, I won't argue too strongly. I thought that for a long time too. But I've been listening & thinking about it for nearly 18 years, and I now believe "Innervisions" holds that distinction. "Innervisions" is a masterpiece, SITKOL is not, due to reasons I'll go into below. And yet, SITKOL has some of Stevie's very best music, so I probably will continue to go back and forth on the issue, in my mind. Ultimately though, it's irrelevant to compare it to other albums. SITKOL has so much truly amazing music that it will forever be in history as one of the top 10 albums anyone ever made, in any genre of music. But it has it's share of annoyances, too.
One problem I have with it is Stevie's inability to edit himself on some of these songs, like Black Man, Isn't She Lovely, and Joy Inside My Tears. They go on far too long after the story has been told, without much progress, even getting tedious toward the end. Also, the tired "black people are mistreated & downtrodden" theme crops up way too many times. Being proud of your race is fine, but thinking you speak for an entire race is arrogant, and devoting too many songs on an album to it is detrimental to the album as a whole. Black Man was just a bad idea to begin with (and poorly executed), and Village Ghetto Land was already done on Talking Book, and much better, as Big Brother. The line about children eating dog food is pathetic and poorly written. VGL is the worst song on the album, it doesn't fit, and stands out like a sore thumb. When you're working as hard as Stevie obviously was on making a classic album, you have to avoid stuff like that, and he didn't. He wanted to make his point, and he let the album's quality go down because of it.
Similarly, the religious stuff bothers me too. Stevie's strength is writing songs that appeal to all different kinds of people. You shouldn't have to be the same religion as him, or religious at all, to appreciate his music, yet he requires that in some songs on SITKOL, for example "Have A Talk With God" and "Pastime Paradise". I believe he got carried away with the religious & racial issues that concern him, and his music suffered because of it. Those songs tend to be less interesting musically, because Stevie was so intent on getting his message across that he focused more on the words. I guess when he was writing a lot of these songs, he was thinking that only black christians would be listening to them. He was overly zealous about it and ended up causing people who aren't in those categories to tune out those particular songs. Even today, he continues to be a great songwriter who makes good albums, not great, because on every one he can't stop himself from including two or three songs about god and the mistreatment of black people, which drag his albums down like a Spike Lee movie. Message to Stevie: if you want to make a gospel album, just DO it, stop trying to make your albums part gospel. We expect sophisticated, life-loving, pop music from you, not lectures about racial issues and religion. I deeply appreciate you as a musician, but I wonder if your strong personal & spiritual views have been holding you back from making great albums like you did in the 70's. Slavery was many years ago, it's time to move on to new topics.
He does far better on the songs which celebrate life, nature, & love. Those songs are the true heart of SITKOL. What was originally Side 4 of the album is the most beautiful suite of songs he ever wrote: Ngiculela, If It's Magic, As, Another Star. Stunning, sophisticated music, unequalled by anyone else to date (including Stevie), as far as I'm concerned. If you're a songwriter/musician and you want to learn, listen to those. The other standouts are Sir Duke, I Wish, Summer Soft, Knocks Me Off My Feet, & Isn't She Lovely. The rest of the songs I haven't mentioned yet are all very good as well, with the exception of Contusion, which is way too stiff and studio-cold compared to the way he used to do it live with Wonderlove.
So, yes, this album is one of the best in history, despite it's considerable flaws. The great is so amazingly strong that it overpowers the mediocre. But I still say that Stevie's ultimate creation is Innervisions. On that album, he had not yet reached the height of his success and the conceitedness that apparently went along with it, and therefore was able to focus and edit himself down to one album and make it perfect. On SITKOL, he seems unfocused at times. Frankly, there's just too many songs there. No one can write 3 albums worth of material, cram it all together and have it all be great & fit together. He needed a producer with a stronger will than his to say "Stevie, these songs are too long, and some of them are too ambitious." He did not have this person, therefore we were 'treated' to the aimless noodlings of Contusion, the failed electronic gimmickry of Village Ghetto Land and HATWG, and worst of all, the insufferable children's screaming on "Black Man".
The recent reissue of SITKOL, by producer Harry Weinger, is very good. It could have been better if Stevie would ever let anyone use his demos and alternate takes for these reissues, which he owns. He refuses, and all we get are the albums with no extras. Apparently he has to die first before we'll ever see his dozens of unused songs included on reissues, as in Marvin Gaye's case. Let's hope he changes his mind. Not likely, since he seems to have retired from the music biz.
on July 4, 2003
I am a 16 year old who thought he had a good conception of music, until I heard Songs in the key of life. After I heard Songs, I knew that all the music that I had heard could not even compare to this album. My mother is really into Stevie, and I am sure that I had heard the music growing up, but I had never really listened to it. I really love knocks me off my feet, love's in need of love today, summer soft, another star, and all of the other songs but "As" by far stands out as the most powerful song. With lyrics like "until you dream of life and life becomes a dream" and "did you know that true love asks for nothing, her acceptance is the way we pay", accompanied with his masterful piano playing and message of love being "turn your words into truth, and then change that truth into love", As has got to be one of the greatest Stevie songs ever made, and in my opinion, amongst the top 10 songs ever made. I would strongly recommend that you listen to Innervisions before you listen to Songs. Some would say that Innervisions is better, with "Living for the city", and "Golden Lady"(my favorite song) being its high point. I love both of the albums.
Stevie Wonder, to me, represents divine inspiration. Nobody but GOD could inspire those lyrics. I got into an argument with one of my friends over which singer was better, Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder. Marvin was wonderful but Stevie won 3 grammy's for Album of the year, a fete accomplished by only him.