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Songs In The Key Of Life Double CD, Original recording remastered

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4.7 out of 5 stars 264 customer reviews

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Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Audio CD (8 May 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Commercial Marketing
  • ASIN: B00004SZWD
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  Blu-ray Audio
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (264 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 169 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

BBC Review

By 1972, Steveland Hardaway Judkins was sick of the soubriquet 'Little' Stevie Wonder. Having showered Berry Gordy's Motown label with chart gold dust throughout the 60s the wunderkind finally took a leaf from the civil rights-related empowerment of black people in the USA and decided to make a stand (much as labelmate Marvin Gaye had). It was a blow for both personal freedom and the right to say something more than just "I love you'' through the medium of music. Threatening to leave the label, he gained the right to self-production (something that came easy to the musically precocious 22-year-old) and to make 'proper' albums. What followed was a stream of unsurpassed masterworks including Music Of My Mind (1972), Talking Book (1973), Innervisions (1974), Fulfillingness' First Finale (1975) and culminating with this sprawling double: The album that Stevie (and most of his fans) still regard as his defining statement.

Critical discourse often labels SITKOL as 'experimental'. And while 21st century ears may struggle to grasp what this collection of funk, soul, fusion and pop has that makes it deserve the tag, once you contextualise it becomes clear. Wonder's work, especially with the electronic pioneers, Tonto's Expanding Head Band (Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil), had been edging towards new forms of expressing black consciousness as well as eroding the boundaries of what 'soul music' could mean. But it was here that Stevie really pushed the envelope. The fecundity of his musical imagination simply beggars belief. While he grapples (and wins!) with just about every genre under the sun here it's never at the expense of the song and never gives the impression for a second that he's showing off. To this end, rather than doing it all himself, SITKOL has a massive supporting cast of stellar names to help him in the joyous task of simply making music; from Herbie Hancock to Minnie Riperton and George Benson, as well as less obvious session legends like pedal steel player, 'Sneaky' Pete Kleinow.

To sum up the breadth of this album (which also came with an extra EP to show how overflowing was the man's muse at this point) would take an essay. In short it contains the Weather Report-like fusion of Contusion, the classical spoofery and wry social commentary of Village Ghetto Land, the gospel progeny of As and Love's In Need Of love Today, the pure pop of Summer Soft...etc. etc. And as if to effortlessly demonstrate that he could still straddle the artistic/commercial divide, the album gave us a slew of hit singles including the boisterous Sir Duke , I Wish and possibly the only cloying moment on the whole album, Isn't She Lovely.

It's Elton John's and George Michael's favourite album. Without it there'd be no Prince. It's continually listed as one of the best things in popular music. EVER. How much more do you need? If you don't own it, buy it tomorrow. Life, literally, isn't complete without it. --Chris Jones

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The result of a musical genius at his creative peak, "Songs In The Key Of Life" is a sprawling masterpiece, and Stevie Wonder's magnum opus. However, no grand words or superlatives can really do this album justice... the songs speak for themselves.
For an album of such stature and brilliance, there are surprisingly few 'famous' tracks. Of these, 'Sir Duke', 'I Wish' and 'Isn't She Lovely' are the most well-known, but merely represent the songs that were released as singles and hence into the mainstream. In reality, this album is far wider in scope than these three songs only hint at.
Stevie Wonder explores his creative and musical limits here, and executes his ideas with considerable aplomb. Quite frankly, there is not a bad song on the entire album, and there are simply too many highlights to single out for distinction. Suffice it to say that there is an example (and a good one at that) of every facet of Stevie's musical ability here.
But it's not just the music and vocal acrobatics that are outstanding, but also the lyrical content of the songs. Stevie Wonder has often been labelled, somewhat unfairly, as being too sentimental. However, this album represents a hugely powerful retort to his critics, with some really meaningful lyrics. Tackling issues such as race relations ('Pastime Paradise' and 'Black Man') to social deprivation ('Village Ghetto Land') and depression/suicide ('Have A Talk With God'), these are not lightweight, throw-away pop tunes by any stretch of the imagination. But the real skill in his songwriting ability lies in the way that you are always left with a feeling of hope from his songs. Maintaining a positive attitude throughout, without pandering to the over-sentimental (most of the time), "Songs In The Key Of Life" is an uplifting and beautiful collection of songs worthy of a special place in any record collection.
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Format: Audio CD
What can you say about this album that hasn't already been said in all these reviews.This masterpiece is nothing if not a mammoth musical journey through the mind of a man fit to burst with wonderful music! He is a visionary and,yes there are perhaps one or two songs that don't necessarily cut the mustard but then I've never one single album where every song does.You need to take those weaker songs for the message they convey,every song on this album conveys a message,there are no soppy love song fillers here (the love songs that are here are beautiful,heartfelt songs). This album displays Stevie's prodigious talent as a melodist better than any other.Every tune is hummable,memorable,above all musical! It is this allied to his no less incredible ear for harmonic invention that draws me to this work time and again. It is the outpouring of a man at the height of his powers,it simply put never got better than this. The quality of the songs is highlighted by the fact that this album really does still sound fresh 25 years after its inception (the secret to the lasting success of any album), even the now very dated synthesised sounds (many of them pioneered on this album ) don't sound intrusive because they are used very tastefully. Add to that the fact that,on most of these tracks Stevie plays nearly everything from Harmonica to kit(and then layers it) you get an idea of just what his achievement was here. Alongside various albums by the Beatles,Beach Boys,Marvin Gaye,Led Zeppelin etc.etc, this one must take its place amongst the 20th century's greats,even with all its indulgences {longer tracks than you might normally expect to hear), and its more idealist, less musically satisfying songs.Read more ›
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By A Customer on 19 Nov. 2003
Format: Audio CD
I was only 2 when this was first released on vinyl and I'm still playing it 25yrs later.
In a time when most albums we buy are over processed, heartless, easily forgotten junk, isn't it time you treated yourself to something that's not only greatly pleasurable to the ear but can take you through every emotion known to man. You feel every word on SITKOL as if being told to you by some wise member of your family whom you love intensley.
I'm tired of forking out hard earned cash for lack luster albums with 3 out of 14 good tracks on them. I'm tired of skipping to my favourites because the rest are mostly annoying. You can't do that with this album! I've yet to hear such a spiritually satisfying mix of music on one album. Every song is a beautiful masterpiece that takes you on a journey.
No life is complete without this album! It's quite simply lifes greatest soundtrack. It's also an education in humanity!
Buy it and feel it's power!
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Format: Audio CD
In 1976 at the ripe old age of 14, I saved all my pennies to buy this album and played it over and over until it was completely worn out. Needless to say 33yrs on I have it on CD. In fact I have bought it many times on CD, for the car, the children, and friends.

My three children were brought up on Songs in the Key of Life, it was always playing in the kitchen, subsequently all of their friends who came for dinner were introduced to the album, especially my son's, who as impressionable 16 yr olds were only keen to listen to gangster rap or heavy metal. I am happy to say that on his recent trip to the UK a great many of them attended his concerts and are now completely hooked

...Yes it's a masterpiece, but it's also a great way of teaching, your children and even your grandchildren.... love, tolerance and the pure joy of living.

Thank you Mr. Wonder for being part of our family for so many years and hopefully for so many more years to come!
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