"Talking Book" was a groundbreaking album, significant on several levels; at the time of it's release it was the first album ever to make such extensive use of new technology in the Moog synthesiser, it elevated Stevie Wonder to a new status with a wider audience as a result and, arguably, it also ushered in an era where Soul music was a dominant genre.
Taken as a whole, the album showcases SW at the peak of his creative powers, and although I feel "Inner Visions" is the more complete album this runs it very close - stand out tracks are, for me the less well known ones like "Maybe Your Baby" and "I Believe" each of which hints at the turmoil in his private life at the time.
If you are a music fan and interested in influential albums then you should have this album - for Soul fans your collection is not complete without it.
on 25 January 2005
As relevant and enjoyable today as it was in 1972, Stevie Wonder's 'Talking Book' is a soul classic. One part of the triplet of groundbreaking albums that were 'Talking Book', 'Innervisions' and Songs In The Key Of Life', this edition is an emotional ride as turbulent as Wonder's personal life at the time.
The album kicks off with the hit 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life', an upbeat love song with an interesting, almost tribal, use of percussion. Next comes the funk, with 'Maybe Your Baby', with baselines looping and melting over each other in a way Steveie Wonder does so well.
The album continues on its journey from chilled out track to track, until an explosion of funk in 'Superstition'. This is probably one of the best tracks the man ever wrote, and is an essential part of understanding his music, the sheer cool that seeps from the speakers almost makes them dance along with you.
The ethnic, earthly influences showing Wonders more spiritual side come across in the upbeat 'Big Brother', before you are taken to emotional depths with the painfully beautiful 'Blame It On The Sun', a heartbroken musical monologue which captures some of his most effective songwriting.
It is hard to fault this album at all, this is a real musical treat, a self assured work of genius from one of the most talented soul performers of all time.
on 18 June 2008
After the superb Music Of My Mind, Stevie kicks things into high gear here with Talking Book. This is one of those albums where an artist is at the top of their game and every song is great. If I was gonna skip one it would maybe be track 2 which does go on longer than it needs to, but who can argue with the quality of songs such as 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life' , 'You And I', 'Big Brother', 'Tuesday Heartbreak', 'I Believe When I Fall In Love' and of course the mighty 'Superstition'. On this album Stevie shows he can produce beautiful ballads, great funk numbers and biting social commentary. If you get this album you'll have one of the greatest rnb/funk records ever recorded. Not bad for 3 or 4 quid!. Make sure you get the 2000 remaster, better sound quality. Get it and enjoy!.
on 8 September 2013
Didn't know anything about early Stevie Wonder so was very surprised to discover his classic period after only hearing stuff from the 80's which I thought was cheesy and boring.Couldn't work out what all the fuss was about, him being a legend etc, then a friend introduced me to Talking Book, all of a sudden I could see his genius, what an inspirational collection of songs, happy, sad, emotional, uplifting, with interesting arrangements quirky synthesiser sounds, great musianship and singing and a loose jazzy vibe.I can now see what an influence he has been and why he has legend status.I have listened to all classic 5 albums and think they are all interesting but consider Talking Book to be his best.
on 24 August 2015
It is extremely difficult to explain today just how fabulous buying and owing an LP was in the seventies, what it meant to bring home the artwork and open it up, delicately taken out the inner sleeve, it was a time when the technical advances in amplification and turntable design leapt forward a great deal, we all listened for the latest releases on radios that was fairly poor quality yet every now and then a song stood out so strong that we could not get enough, now that drove us to the shop to buy!
If the shop was very good they would indulge you by playing some of the tracks of the LP, and in many cases you would be hooked.
Talking Book was the very best example of this, no one could dispute its genius and excellence musically, as well as all of the technical brilliance. This album was able to conveyed a feeling that very few albums ever manage, 'CATCH A FIRE' been another such, A third would be 'THE KICK INSIDE, they and a few others are in a category of such ground breaking mould that it is easy to see how things changed subsequently.
It is amazing to think that with such albums I personally would not play any track unless I had time to sit and listen to the whole album from start to finish, and this was a regular thing to do when friends visited, every one would sit down quieten down and listen to every track (that would not happen today I do not think).
There was always the risk that 'your friends' would ask to borrow the album, "so as to get a more in-depth review at home," sometime citing that, "their systems was different from what they were hearing on yours," often that would be the last time you would see your treasured item.
The point of all of this is just to reveal how wonderful a time musically it was, and how important this album was, for lovers, for in-depth conversation, for enthusiast of technical innovation, and of course for devotees of great soul music, and it still stands the test of time!
on 30 August 2014
Given complete artistic freedom from the shackles of the Motown production line as well as an array of Arp and Moog synthesisers, the 21 year old Stevie Wonder wasted little time in creating Talking Book. It is still arguably his best album.
On Talking Book, Stevie played most of the instruments ranging from synths to drums and, quite incredibly, what sounds like acoustic guitar on the album's most overtly political track Big Brother. The remainder of the LP focuses more on the loss and gain of love, probably influenced by his separation from Syreeta Wright who somewhat ironically contributed some of the words.
Sides One and Two of the album begin with the most famous songs from the LP. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life stays just the right side of the middle of the road whilst Superstition carries the funk. There is also however much to be gained from the rest of the album with the sublimely arranged Blame It On The Sun possibly Stevie's greatest ever lost-love song. I can remember Evan Dando of the Lemmonheads raving about it in the early 90s - possibly not the most sober musical analyst but he was right! Further highlights include Looking For Another Pure Love which is augmented by some beautifully fluid guitar-work by Jeff Beck and the 70s jazz-funk of Tuesday Heartbreak featuring an equally excellent guest turn by Dave Sanborne on saxophone.
With all but the two most famous songs absent from most Wonder compilations, Talking Book is an essential Stevie purchase. It is very highly recommended.
on 9 March 2015
With all the adventurous stuff going on in jazz at the time this album was realised, one would have expected Stevie Wonder to have recorded something more conventional and more according to his previous winning formulas for the Motown Label but this was not the case.This album was a point of departure for Stevie.
First, the album sleeve says it all, this was a man who was not going display himself as a "marketable" soul brand, but as someone representing his African heritage, the platted hair, the velvet kaftan and the evocative hot and parched background.
Second, there is the music, Wonder would refine and distill the chromaticism, dissonances and discordant elements of jazz which were so prevalent at the time. He did not attempt to tame these elements, but embrace them to shape his musical world view - Talking Book exemplifies this.
There is a wonderful atmosphere to this album. 'Maybe your baby' does not quite reach the tipping point of hard rock, but it teases and prods thanks to the guitar work of Ray Parker Junior, rather it hangs around quirky rhythmic and tonal structures which are quite fascinating.
'Superstition' displays Wonder as a really good multi-purpose musician playing clavinet, drums and Moog bass. A well-known track that crackles like a firework party.
"Lookin' for Another Pure Love" is quite a nice track and has Jeff Beck but more controlled and plaintive on his guitar than he is usual
I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) - an amazing lovely track. Although a classic, Wonder pushes it to its limits in terms of melody and harmony; but the theme of theme of the tune is quite robust and is quite able to withstand such forays.
A great album, a success of trying out new ideas and new ideas of composing.
'Looking for another love' is
on 18 September 2014
So hard to believe the awesome music on this album was done by Steve at the age of only 22. Superstition and You are the Sunshine of my life are the sound tracks to millions of lives - A musical hero and legend!
on 14 January 2013
Kinda forgot all about it. And then I got the new "Talking Book", by Macy Grey. And simply loved it. So I got beck to the original, and the feeling of joy was doubled. As a "classic" it does not need my support - to have "Sunshine Of My Life", "Superstitious" and "Big Brother" on one album says it all. But then you get to listen - again and again - to "Blame It On The Sun" or "I Believe" and you realize what you've been missing. Good for you if you haven't. I recommend a back-to-back experience: first Macy, then Stevie. Or the other way around. Any witch way you're for a nirvana-like experience.
on 8 April 2014
This 1972 release is, probably, the first of Stevie's classic run of 1970's albums which culminated in the highly acclaimed 'Songs In The Key Of Life' (1976). The standard is, as ever, pretty high; the stand-out songs are definitely the 2 hugely successful singles - the gorgeous 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life' and the funky brilliance of 'Superstition' - but on 'Maybe Your Baby' Stevie allows himself to get over-indulgent by stretching a decent track to nearly 7 minutes in length and, for me, the ballads are stronger on the later albums 'Innervisions' and 'Fulfillingness' First Finale'. Even so, this is worth buying at a fairly low price.