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4.6 out of 5 stars45
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 4 December 2000
Hotter Than July might not be up with his very best work, sure, but it's still a masterpiece by anyone else's standards. This is especially true when you consider that it was released in the early 1980s, when popular music wasn't exactly at its peak. Lately is as good a song as his finest 70s work, such as Knocks Me Off My Feet or Big Brother. And yes, Master Blaster is awesome. One more thing though. Elvis Costello is a genius. I already knew this to be true, but now I know it's not just in the field of music! Not only did he rip off Master Blaster as your reviewer points out, but he then jumped in a time machine, went back to 1977 (three years before Stevie recorded the song) and released Watching the Detectives first. Amazing!
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on 12 May 2008
Hotter than July, is never really acknowledged, in despite of the achievements that Wonder managed to do with it. The album was the best selling of his career to that point and Dr Martin Luther King Jr was granted a national holiday on 26th January 1986 after his plea in the song "Happy Birthday"

Wonder promotes diversity, peace (Master Jammin'-a tribute to Bob Marley's reggae style); anger ("I ain't gonna stand for it"); politics ("Cash in your hand"), love ("All i do" and "Rocket Love") and influence ("Happy Birthday"- the song now even appears in real birthday cards, despite being written as a tribute to the civic rights work by Dr Martin Luther King Jr.)
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on 23 February 2013
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 was never off my CD player at the time of purchase 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 - 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. Oh, and after that dip, Hotter than July comes back with Lately and Happy Birthday.

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.
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VINE VOICEon 1 May 2008
This was Stevie's biggest selling album - peaking at number two in the album chart back in 1981, and opens with a great track that is lively, and melts beautifully into the lovely hypnotic disco/ballad: 'All I Do'.

Four massive hits on this; four top twenty singles - including no less than three top 3's! One of these having the very 'unoriginal' title of several hits out at about that time for some reason: 'Happy Birthday'. There's also a beautifully haunting song on this called 'Rocket Love', but this album will be remembered best for producing more chart hits for Stevie than any other in his career.

Stevie Wonder frustratingly would do very few 12" singles, but his style of music would often have been well marketed in this direction. The disco smash 'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It' would have been a great opportunity to utilise this aim in the market with an extended version, instead, he would record the full length version on the 7" release, which sound quality would have been much improved if an 'edited' version had been done and the extended left to the 12". This was of constant irritation to me - an overlong single where a 12" would have been more appropriate and interesting.

The classic 'Lately' is one of the finest songs on this album, and to have ever been released by Stevie Wonder, ironically though, a song that in my mother's opinion was a difficult song for him to sing - he appearing to have problems reaching those top notes - notes where he would seem to 'strain' somewhat. This would contrast, with 'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It', where the same, but in reverse would be apparent; where we he would appear to have difficulty in reaching the low keys which were done in a an extremely low pitch that would have been equally difficult for anyone to sing.

His least popular songs for me would tend to reach as high as position two in the charts, when his more appealing and 'catchier' songs would peak somewhat lower down the chart for some reason.

I never understood the silly kids voices included in the song 'Do like You' on this - a fabulous track that is spoilt somewhat by this pointless intro. and finale.

The strongest and weakest points on this album ironically are slap-bag next to each other; 'Lately' is by far the definite 'peak' here, that goes straight into 'Cash In Your Face' which has to be the 'weakest' track - if indeed it can be called that, since it is still a good song on what is a very wholly strong album.
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on 18 May 2000
Stevie was really cooking around this period. It contains three classics Masterblaster, Happy Birthday and Lately. It is unashamedly commercial music for sure but the songwriting and musicianship are top rate and the whole enterprise is truly versatile and satisfying. Stevie's albums have generally been patchy affairs since. This is well worth an exploration.
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on 18 June 2001
From the opening bars of the cooooool "Did I hear you say you love me?" we are taken on a journey through the mind of a genius who was just preparing to give his talent away to an average bloke in the street. "All I Do", "Rocket Love" and "Lately" are all beautiful ballads that bring a tear to your eye but it is the five songs in the middle of the album that do it for me. They are upbeat and nearly as funky as his '70's stuff. Buy "Hotter than July" and think about the great albums that COULD'VE followed this but didn't.
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on 25 June 2012
This will always remind me of school days, and a couple of friends singing Happy Birthday to someone, rather inappropriately given the actual lyrics of the song. It's not on the level of one or two of the earlier classic albums (though possibly as good as one or two that are reckoned to be in the classics), but a real return to form after the disappointing Secret Life of Plants. Maybe some of it feels a little predictable, maybe it's been played too much, but what's not to like about Master Blaster, All I do, I ain't gonna stand for it (a really tight performance)? And "Lately" is a really touching song about the loss of love. The remastered version sounds great - got to love the breaking glass (lamp?) at the end of Do like you. You done broke Mummy's lamp! Uh Uh! Yes you did!
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VINE VOICEon 1 May 2008
This was Stevie's biggest selling album - peaking at number two in the album chart back in 1981, and opens with a great track that is lively, and melts beautifully into the lovely hypnotic disco/ballad: 'All I Do'.

Four massive hits on this; four top twenty singles - including no less than three top 3's! One of these having the very 'unoriginal' title of several hits out at about that time for some reason: 'Happy Birthday'. There's also a beautifully haunting song on this called 'Rocket Love', but this album will be remembered best for producing more chart hits for Stevie than any other in his career.

Stevie Wonder frustratingly would do very few 12" singles, but his style of music would often have been well marketed in this direction. The disco smash 'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It' would have been a great opportunity to utilise this aim in the market with an extended version, instead, he would record the full length version on the 7" release, which sound quality would have been much improved if an 'edited' version had been done and the extended left to the 12". This was of constant irritation to me - an overlong single where a 12" would have been more appropriate and interesting.

The classic 'Lately' is one of the finest songs on this album, and to have ever been released by Stevie Wonder, ironically though, a song that in my mother's opinion was a difficult song for him to sing - he appearing to have problems reaching those top notes - notes where he would seem to 'strain' somewhat. This would contrast, with 'I Ain't Gonna Stand For It', where the same, but in reverse would be apparent; where we he would appear to have difficulty in reaching the low keys which were done in a an extremely low pitch that would have been equally difficult for anyone to sing.

His least popular songs for me would tend to reach as high as position two in the charts, when his more appealing and 'catchier' songs would peak somewhat lower down the chart for some reason.

I never understood the silly kids voices included in the song 'Do like You' on this - a fabulous track that is spoilt somewhat by this pointless intro. and finale.

The strongest and weakest points on this album ironically are slap-bag next to each other; 'Lately' is by far the definite 'peak' here, that goes straight into 'Cash In Your Face' which has to be the 'weakest' track - if indeed it can be called that, since it is still a good song on what is a very wholly strong album.
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on 29 September 2012
A fantstic collection of meoldies. A timeless piece - What a talented artist Stevie Wonder truly is? The musical arrangement, the lyrics.....brilliant! Master Blaster Jamin, Happy Birthday is on there. I had this vinyl album when it originally came out and lost it at some point, the quality of this CD makes up for my original loss.
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on 18 September 2014
This was Stevie's first album after his Secret Life of Plants album for which he received a panning from the critics. Stevie though is his own man and is not influenced by musical trends because he sets them! Hotter Than July still sounds awesome - timeless songs from a true musical genius.
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