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Customer Review

on 20 November 2005
Well this is another great double album from the Seventies. Although the Beatles’ White Album set the precedent in the late ’60s, double albums became much more prevalent in the ’70s. Not always with great results. But I admire anyone who puts out a double album as it was in those pre CD days a hell of a gamble and retailed at nearly double the price. So there were quite a few which sank without trace, lost in either mediocrity or self indulgence or both. But there are a few which stand the test of time. This is one of them.
There is so much varied music to be enjoyed here and as with all great albums it is its ambition which gives it that extra something. Stevie was aiming for the stars here and for about two thirds of this set he succeeds emphatically. The opening track is a decent heartfelt ballad but gives no clue really as to the heights this album would reach. For when this album is good it is Very Good. And there are some songs here which are basically the highlight of a long and interesting career. Take ’Village Ghetto Land’ for example. It is incredibly moving, the string arrangement is nothing less than heartbreaking. And a beautiful melody of course did help. The two singles ’Sir Duke’ and ’I Wish’ are all time dance classics. Try playing these loud at a party and see who’s left on the sofa! The musicianship I must add is absolutely first rate. Funky. My favourite track is probably ’Saturn’ which combines a sad and incisive lyric which does a pretty good job of persuading the listener to pack up bags and move to the planet Saturn. This is not a joke. Who else could achieve this conviction with such a seemingless ridiculous lyric? To a place where 'people live to be two hundred and five!’ Quite tempting, eh? And then ’Ebony Eyes’ is ridiculously infectious. And a great dance number of course. None of the mainstream knows of these two tracks’ existence! Those who do should count ourselves supremely lucky.
The second disc is hardly short of classics either. ’Isn’t She Lovely’ is a wonderful romping number in tribute to his new born daughter. Any parent will be moved by this. The ballad ’Joy Inside My Tears’ is admittedly sentimental, but he was to do far less impressive efforts in this oevre in later years. Silly Love Song maybe, but this song is dynamite.
There are others such as ’As’, ’Pastime Paradise’ and ’If’ which are truly worthy of mention. Only a couple of the longer songs ’Black Man’ and ’Ordinary Pain’ outstay their welcome slightly. Despite the great lyrics. This album should be owned by any fan of Stevie Wonder as it displays his many eclectic qualities on one set, mostly to great effect. But it is for those career highlights, particularly the unknown ’Saturn’ and ’Ebony Eyes’ that I direct you to this album. When Stevie was this good, there was no one to touch him in the 1970s. And as with all great albums, they last forever.
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