I'm a huge fan of Stevie's '70s classics and very recently bought this album almost from a sense of duty. I understood that he was going off the boil at this point in his career but for Master Blaster (Jammin') alone, it seemed worth a few pounds. What I got for my few pounds was an album that is never off my CD player and one of the very best pop abums of my (large) record collection.
I say pop meaning in no way to denigrate this album. Yes, it's still packed full of soul and funk and fabulous musicianship but ultimately this is "just" a fantastic collection of terrific, accessible, hook-laden pop songs. The opening few bars of Did I Hear You Say You Love Me? leap out of the speakers and the first six songs are staggeringly good. The quality does dip for Do Like you and Cash in Your Face but even these have great funky rhythm tracks - and then the album comes back with Lately and Happy Birthday. Frankly, you could insert two tracks of Schoenberg at that point and the rest of the album is so strong it would still be a pop classic.
A few years ago I stumbled across my sister's collection of 7" singles in the attic, bought when she was a teenager in the late '70s and '80s. Masterblaster and Happy Birthday were right there, between The Jam, Frankie and Duran Duran. How brilliant and long ago it seems that an undisputed genius could also make music that teenage girls could and would sing along to in their bedrooms. And music that also promoted social justice messages.
If you love great pop, soul or funk, buy this. If you love Stevie's earlier work, buy this. If you have ears (and feet), buy this.