Wednesday, September 28, 2011

songs in the key of life

Stevie Wonder reached his high water mark with this sprawling spiritually and socially conscious magnum opus. In the wake of critical and commercial success, Wonder was ready to quit the music business; but after signing a new thirty seven million dollar deal with Motown Records, he decided to record an ambitious double-album (which would also include a four track seven-inch EP entitled 'A Something's Extra') with the working title: 'Let's See Life The Way It Is'. 

Sessions took place over nine months and were split between Crystal Industries in Hollywood, The Record Plant in California, and The Hit Factory in New York City with over one hundred and thirty session musicians including Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Minnie Riperton, Deniece Williams, and Mike Sembello. Wonder spent hours in the studio perfecting each track while his session players struggled to keep up with him as he incorporated fusion, jazz, funk, balladry, pop, and soul into the musical mix and saw him singing in Spanish and Zulu. 

'Songs in the Key of Life' made a debut at the top of the US album chart, a first for an American artist. It was also the last of Wonder's albums to reach the top of that chart. 'Songs in the Key of Life' sold over ten million copies in the US alone and won four Grammy Awards (it was nominated for seven) for Album of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Male Rhythm and Blues Performer, and Producer of the Year.

VH1 did an episode on the album for their 'Classic Albums' series:

For the release Stevie brought all of the musicians and engineers, plus music writers and reporters to Longview Farm in Massachusetts to preview the album.

'Sir Duke' went to the top of the pop and black charts.  

'I Wish'  went to number one on both charts as well.

'Love's in Need of Love Today'

"The force of evil plans
To make you its possession
And it will if we let it
Destroy everybody
We all must take
Precautionary measures
If love and peace you treasure
Then you'll hear me when I say..."

'Village Ghetto Land' was co-written with Gary Byrd.

"Now some folks say that we should be
Glad for what we have
Tell me would you be happy in Village Ghetto Land "

'Pastime Paradise'

"They've been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They've been wasting most their time
Glorifying days long gone behind
They've been wasting most their days
In rememberance of ignorance oldest praise
Tell me who of them will come to be
How many of them are you and me"

'Isn't She Lovely?'

"Life and love are the same
Life is Aisha
The meaning of her name
Londie, it could have not been done
Without you who conceived the one
That's so very lovely made from love"


"As around the sun the earth knows she's revolving
And the rosebuds know to bloom in early may
Just as hate knows love's the cure
You can rest your mind assure
That I'll be loving you always"

'Another Star'

'Songs in the Key of Life' full album:

all songs composed by Stevie Wonder unless noted.

1. "Love's in Need of Love Today"   7:06
2. "Have a Talk with God"   Wonder, Hardaway 2:42
3. "Village Ghetto Land"   Wonder, Byrd 3:25
4. "Contusion"   3:46
5. "Sir Duke"   3:54
6. "I Wish"   4:12
7. "Knocks Me Off My Feet"   3:36
8. "Pastime Paradise"   3:28
9. "Summer Soft"   4:14
10. "Ordinary Pain"   6:23
11. "Isn't She Lovely"   6:34
12. "Joy Inside My Tears"   6:30
13. "Black Man"   Wonder, Byrd 8:30
14. "Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I Am Singing"   3:49
15. "If It's Magic"   3:12
16. "As"   7:08
17. "Another Star"   8:28

A Something's Extra 7" EP 

Side one
18.   "Saturn" Michael Sembello, Wonder  4:54
19.   "Ebony Eyes"   4:11
Side two
20.   "All Day Sucker"   5:06

21.    "Easy Goin' Evening (My Mama's Call)"   3:55

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