Saturday, November 24, 1979

Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants released

First posted 6/20/2008; updated 11/6/2020.

Journey Through the Secret Life of Planets

Stevie Wonder


Charted: November 24, 1979


Peak: 4 US, 4 RB, 8 UK, 25 CN, 24 AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK, 4.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: R&B


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Earth’s Creation
  2. The First Garden
  3. Voyage to India
  4. Same Old Story
  5. Venus Flytrap and the Bug
  6. Ai No, Sono
  7. Seasons
  8. Power Flower
  9. Send One Your Love (instrumental)
  10. Race Babbling

Tracks, Disc 2:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks)

  1. Send One Your Love (11/3/79, 4 US, 5 CB, 12 HR, 12 RR, 1 AC, 5 RB, 52 UK, 7 CN)
  2. Outside My Window (3/1/80, 52 US, 55 CB, 43 AC, 56 RB, 52 UK, 77 CN)
  3. Black Orchid (1/26/80, 63 UK)
  4. Ecclesiastes
  5. Kesse Ye Lolo de Ye
  6. Come Back as a Flower
  7. Seed's a Star/Tree Medley
  8. Secret Life of Plants
  9. Tree
  10. Finale


Total Running Time: 90:05

Rating:

3.352 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About the Album:

Perhaps the most curious album in Stevie Wonder’s career, this concept album about plants was ostensibly a soundtrack for Walon Green’s documentary The Secret Life of Plants, based on the book of the same name by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. The film’s producer, Michael Braun, described each visual image to Wonder in detail and Gary Olazabal, the sound engineer, would specify the length the passage needed to be. Wonder then added appropriate musical accompaniment. WK

The record is loaded with ethereal experiments, many of them sound-effect laden instrumentals and dull intercultural experiments (Voyage to India). The album represented the first use of the Computer Music Melodian, a digital sampling synthesizer. WK It’s all so gently arranged that it might put you to sleep. The album can be seen as a precursor to New Age music.

There were a few oddball vocals. For example, on Same Old Story, Wonder tried translating the complex, scientific findings of Jagadish Chandra Bose as detailed in the book. Bose had developed instruments to measure plants’ response to stimuli. WK

Most observers didn’t know what to make of it at the time. It was seen as “too much of a departure from his string of melodic albums.” WK The album is now sometimes revered by critics looking for an argument (as someone once said about Dylan’s 1970 Self Portrait).

Still, Wonder was so popular that the album still peaked at number four on the pop albums chart. Send One Your Love was a hit and Outside My Window scraped the middle regions of the pop charts.

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