The Post Game Show

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Throwback Album Review: "Where I'm Coming From," by Stevie Wonder

As I love to write creatively to keep fresh, I bring to you an album review of Stevie Wonder's first album with complete creative control, "Where I'm Coming From." Hope you guys enjoy and leave comments.



In April of 1971, a newly minted 21 year-old man of the Taurus sign named Stevie Wonder released his first self-composed, self-produced album, "Where I'm Coming From." This album came into being during Wonder's contentious negotiations with Berry Gordy and Motown to write and produce his own music, a fight won previously by Marvin Gaye in releasing the great album, "What's Going On." Although not completely evident throughout the 38 minute LP, the seeds for the genius musician, songwriter, producer, and all around icon are planted here.

The opening salvo is the warning song, "Look Around," which encourages all within listening range to view their surroundings and be aware of the craziness in the world.

This track is anchored by a frantic, haunting keyboard riff and Stevie himself providing a decent backgroup doo wop of sorts. Next up is the funky precursor to "School is Cool Ads, "Do yourself A Favor," which is Stevie Wonder's first documented use of clavinets and synthesizers, and he uses them effectively in preaching education along with telling folks to "Get yourself together/hey, there ain't much time."

"Think Of me as your soldier," is the first of Stevie's many wonderful ballads, this one co-written with his wife at the time, the late Syreeta Wright. This acoustic wunderkind provides the first example of Stevie defining love as more than just a four letter word, in the same vein as "You and I," "Golden Lady," and "As," just to name a few.

"Something out of the blue," is basically a continuation of the previous song, in which Stevie is convinced that it came out of the blue to him that this woman would give his life new meaning.

"If you really love me," was the only single to chart in the United States, reaching the top 10, ironically a throwback to the original Motown sound, the very one that Stevie Wonder fought against at the time. The song's refrain, emploring the listener to tell the one they're involved with that they do indeed love them is a pleasant prayer for romance and affection under a Funk Brothers classic groove.

The next song is a hilarious yet sincere jab at poverty and his battles with Berry Gordy, "I Wanna Talk To You." Wonder is singing of his many troubles, when an annoying, nasal voice (apparently the voice of God, President Richard Nixon or Berry Gordy, no one's really sure) breaks into Stevie's train of thought, wanting to talk to our downtrodden hero.

"Take Up A Course In Happiness" is another public service announcement for joy from Stevie, basically asking that listeners find whatever takes to make them happy in life.

Although not one of the more publicly reknowned songs, "Never Dreamed You Leave In Summer" is a heartbreaking cry for love lost, love gained, and lost again. The dramatic rise and fall in instruments (piano, strings, not missed in their absences are drum kicks and bass) and the obviously pained vocals of Stevie make for a delightfully sad, yet effective break-up song.

The album closes out with a hopeful 7-minute cut called "Sunshine In Their Eyes." At his earnest, optimistic best, Stevie outlines the sadness that children firmly entrenched in poverty deal with on a daily basis, but does look forward to the day where these types of sad examples will be out of date. Sadly we're still waiting for that Sunshine to appear.

All In All, this clearly won't measure up to the next four or five albums during the Wonder classic period, but if you want to get in on the ground floor of the building of a musical genius, this album will give you an under construction view of the greatness that Stevie Wonder would eventually become.

2 Comments:

  • At 4:23 AM, Blogger jameil1922 said…

    interesting... i had a roommate who was OBSESSED w/stevie wonder. she had every single one of his 1,348 cds.

     
  • At 12:53 AM, Blogger Vdizzle said…

    Chris, you got some serious skills boy. You are quite a wordsmith in all realms. Keep it up.

     

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