Stevie Wonder had begun his metamorphosis from the teen star to a major and serious artist back in 1971 with "Music of my Mind", where he stretched beyond the boundaries Motown wanted to impose and began to explore the amazing creativity he had. There followed 3 of the most innovative and influential albums of the 70's - Talking Book, Inner Visions and Songs in the Key of Life, each of which could be considered a classic.
Little surprise then that "Fullfillingness...." (which came between Visions and Songs..) has been largely disregarded when critics choose their favourite Stevie Wonder album. That's a shame though, because there are some excellent tracks on display here.
The albums from this phase of Wonder's career always had plenty of variety of mood, with the uptempo and positive rubbing shoulders with the militant and regretful. FFF is no different, opening with "Smile Please" (no prizes for guessing the mood on this one), and a jaunty "Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away", before the wistful "Too Shy..." brings things down tempo. We're back up again with "Boogie On..." , before the mellow "Creepin'" and the funky and angry "You Haven't Done Nothin'", which has a scorching lyric.
"It Ain't No Use" finds Stevie in regretful mood as he says goodbye to his love (would this be the hymn to the end of his marriage to Syreeta?), before "They Won't Go...", which almost comes to a full stop in places, such is the slow tempo. But Stevie Wonder always came across as a positive individual and this reasserts itself at the end of the set, with "Birds Of Beauty", a funky, Latin tinged number, stressing the virtues of a natural high.
You may have heard some of the tracks here, but Wonder's albums always rewarded listening as a whole and this is no exception - Inner Visions remains my favourite, but this runs it close