Wednesday, December 5, 1973

Paul McCartney & Wings released Band on the Run: December 5, 1973

Originally posted December 5, 2011.



“The consensus of critics, as well as cold hard sales figures, says that Band on the Run was Paul McCartney’s most successful solo album.” RG “Neither the dippy, rustic Wild Life nor the slick AOR flourishes of Red Rose Speedway earned Paul McCartney much respect, so he made the self-consciously ambitious Band on the Run to rebuke his critics. On the surface, Band on the Run appears to be constructed as a song cycle in the vein of Abbey Road, but subsequent listens reveal that the only similarities the two albums share are simply superficial.” STE

“McCartney’s talent for songcraft and nuanced arrangements is in ample display throughout the record, which makes many of the songs – including the nonsensical title track – sound more substantial than they actually are. While a handful of the songs are excellent – the surging, inspired surrealism of Jet is by far one of his best solo recordings, Bluebird is sunny acoustic pop, and Helen Wheels captures McCartney rocking with abandon – most of the songs are more style than substance. Yet McCartney’s melodies are more consistent than any of his previous solo records, and there are no throwaways; the songs just happen to be not very good.” STE

“Still, the record is enjoyable, whether it’s the minor-key Mrs. Vandebilt or Let Me Roll It, a silly response to John Lennon’s ‘How Do You Sleep?,’ which does make Band on the Run one of McCartney’s finest solo efforts. However, there’s little of real substance on the record,” STE although it should be noted that the album is “an artistic triumph over very trying conditions – the defection of two-fifths of Wings.” RG Still, “no matter how elaborate the production is, or how cleverly his mini-suites are constructed, Band on the Run is nothing more than a triumph of showmanship.” STE




Awards:
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Saturday, November 10, 1973

Elton John hit #1 with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Elton John


Released: October 5, 1973


Peak: 18 US, 12 UK, 15 CN, 13 AU


Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.3 UK, 30.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/classic rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding [11:08] (2 CL)
  2. Candle in the Wind [3:50] (3/2/74, 6 US, 2 AC, 2 CL, 5 UK, 5 CN, 5 AU) *
  3. Bennie and the Jets [5:23] (2/16/74, 1 US, 37 UK, 15 RB, 1 CL, 37 UK, 1 CN, 5 AU, 2x platinum)
  4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road [3:14] (9/29/73, 2 US, 7 AC, 1 CL, 6 UK, 1 CN, 4 AU, 2x platinum)
  5. This Song Has No Title [2:23]
  6. Grey Seal [3:58] (13 CL)
  7. Jamaica Jerk Off [3:39]
  8. I’ve Seen That Movie Too [5:59]
  9. Sweet Painted Lady [3:52]
  10. The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34) [4:24]
  11. Dirty Little Girl [5:01]
  12. All the Girls Love Alice [5:08] (9 CL)
  13. Your Sister Can’t Twist But She Can Rock ‘N’ Roll [2:42]
  14. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting [4:54] (7/7/73, 12 US, 2 CL, 7 UK, 12, CN, 31 AU, gold single)
  15. Roy Rogers [4:08]
  16. Social Disease [3:44]
  17. Harmony [2:45] (11 CL)

All songs written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin.

* Note: In the U.S. and Canada, “Candle in the Wind” didn’t chart until a live version was released in 1987.


Total Running Time: 76:12

Rating:

4.477 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)


Quotable: It “plays like a greatest hits album, overflowing with classic songs.” – Clark Speicher, The Review


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is is “considered the high watermark of Elton’s reign of popularity,” CRS his “commercial and creative apex,” ZS “his magnum opus.” CS “John had successfully become the biggest hit-maker since The Beatles” CS and this “pretty much defines what made Elton John a superstar in the early ‘70s.” AMG However, this was also where his “personality began to gather more attention than his music.” AMG He “achieved superstardom with this effort and never matched its mastery again.” RV

This is “more musically ambitious than anything he attempted previously.” TM It “holds claim to a lot of brilliant, very pop-savvy music.” AZ “Its individual moments are spectacular and the glitzy, crowd-pleasing showmanship.” AMG “The grandiose rock is filled with an energy unlike any of his other works, giving us a new side to the piano man.” CS This is “piano glam rock at its finest, strutting a supersonic sound with prowess and ease.” CS

It “plays like a greatest hits album, overflowing with classic songs” RV which “remain standards more than 30 years later thanks to Bernie Taupin’s sharpest lyrics, John’s propulsive keyboard skills and vocals that leap into falsetto without losing any of their power.” TL The album “demonstrates the ease with which John and Taupin could write not only the hit singles, but the outstanding album tracks.” ZS

The Triumphs and Perils of a Double Album

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has been called “Elton’s White Album.” ZS Like all double albums, though, there is the danger of being criticized as “overstuffed.” TL Critic Robert Christgau said, “This is one more double album that would make a nifty single.” RC Bill Shaprio echoed that sentiment, noting that there is “some strong material, as well as some pretty forgettable exercises.” BS “Edited down to one disc, this would easily be John’s recorded pinnacle.” BS

However, others would argue that this is a “stunning song cycle with no filler.” ZS The “flamboyant tour de force” ZS has been celebrated as “a recap of all the styles and sounds that made John a star.” AMG In a 1974 review for Circus magazine, Janis Schacht said “Elton John is back and stronger than he’s been on record in many a blue moon. The lush two-record set moves from mood to mood with no apparent effort and a great sense of timing, class and style.” JS A 1973 Billboard review said “John seems able to sing almost any type of material, from rock to country to Jamaican-flavored tunes.” BB In a largely negative review, Rolling Stone’s Stephen Davis acknowledged that the album mixes “straight ultramodern British music hall revue” SD with “plenty of rock synthesized flash and the inspection of the inner feelings of several different versions of Elton John persona.” SD

Bernie Taupin and the Lyrics

On the album’s lyrics, “Taupin ranges far and wide, but always on what he considers the ‘other’ side of the tracks, romanticizing your moderately seamy crowd.” NC “Bernie takes us into the mind of a tired sort of man who does his living vicariously, via Roy Rogers movies on the telly, …into bed with a prostitute…And so on.” NC

The Writing and Recording

The Rolling Stones had just recorded Goats Head Soup in Jamaica and encouraged Elton John to give the “relaxing tropical paradise” SF a chance. However, he and his crew “encountered hostile locals and faulty equipment.” SF “Too frightened to leave his hotel room (things were volatile...) and holed up in his hotel room with a batch of Bernie Taupin's lyrics, Elton wrote twenty-one songs in three days.” CG

Attempts to record in Jamaica were abandoned and then “an equally unsatisfactory spell in New York” CG followed. Eventually, they relocated to France at the Château d'Hérouville where he’d recorded his previous two albums. “Originally intended as a single album, by the time Elton John had finished recording tracks…it was clear -- to him at any rate -- that only a double LP would suffice.” HC

“Funeral for a Friend/Love Likes Bleeding”

The album opens “in a dark and stormy mood. The wind is howling. A lone church bell chimes in the distance, ushering in an eleven-minute faux-goth suite ‘Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.’” TM The first part is “an eight-minute instrumental prologue featuring grandiose and tasteless typhoon whooshings, booming ecclesiastic organ, [and] some stinging guitar.” SD It segues into “‘Love Lies Bleeding,’ a rocker with a soaring, handsome chorus.” SD

The “back-to-back blowouts” CS have been called both a “prog rock epic” AMG and a “Wagnerian-operalike combo.” RS500 “It’s as though the prodigiously talented pianist and his longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin, mean to bust out of the radio-bonbon business.” TM Critic David Prakel praises the song as a “stunner…in which he musters and commands every last musical talent and trick.” DP

“Candle in the Wind”

Of course, song two quickly announces that it will be “all over the map” AMG by immediately careening into the balladry of Candle in the Wind.” AMG The song “follows a fan as he tries to reconcile the myths and legends attached to Marilyn Monroe,” TM although it “took its title from a newspaper cutting about the death of Janis Joplin.” CG

In his 1973 review for Rolling Sone, Stephen Davis called it “prettily solemn and unbelievably corny, a necrophiliac erection.” SD In his review for Stereo Review, Noel Coppage asserts that “EJ has given it such a nice melody ans sings it with such emotional credibility that the words actually do begin to mean something.” NC

Despite any dismissivemness, the general public reveled in the song’s sentimentality. The original version was a single in the UK and a live version in 1987 was a top-10 hit in the United States. In 1997, the lyrics were revamped as a memorial to Princess Diana and it became the second-biggest-selling song of all time, only behind Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”

“Bennie and the Jets”

The third single from the album, this gave Elton his second chart-topper in America after 1972’s “Crocodile Rock.” “The cartoon-like tale of a female sci-fi rock band” CG “was a nod in the direction of Bowie’s Ziggy” TB and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s “about a mythical rock & roll band,” SD complete with “dubbed audience noise.” SD

“The heavy metal groupie immortalized in ‘Bennie and the Jets’…engages in ritualistic animal sacrifice,” TM not exactly your standard top-40 fare. The album marked “the moment when Taupin’s snarling outsider cynicism collides most spectacularly with John’s questioning melodies and dizzying etude-book piano arpeggios.” TM<./sup>

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

This isn’t “a ‘concept’ album in the strictest sense, but Goodbye does have a recurring theme – disillusionment” TM as Taupin lyrically “is pursuing the many facets of a dying Hollywood.” JS The title track tells of a boy stung by the city he once viewed as an Oz.” TM The Circus magazine review asserted that “Elton finally has met his original potential” JS with songs like “the delicate and beautiful ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.’” JS It “harnesses the fantastic imagery of glam to a Gershwin-sweet melody.” RS500 Ballads like that and “Candle in the Wind,” “along with every other hit off this record, have since become staples in pop, turning the record into an early greatest hits collection.” CS

“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”

“Guitarist Davey Johnstone was a rare find when he joined the band” SD and this “omnipresent AM hit…ably testify to his power.” SD “The strutting rock and roll” RS500 of “this “Stonesy rocker” TB “easily finds itself in the top echelon of fist-pumping rock songs that get your blood boiling and your head banging.” CS As the lead single from the album, the song “about Bernie Taupin’s raucous teenage days” CG marked Elton’s fifth trip to the top ten in his native UK. Stateside, he’d already had five top-10s, but this one just missed the mark, landing at #12.

“Grey Seal”

“Grey Seal” was originally released as the B-side to Elton’s 1970 single “Rock and Roll Madonna.” He re-recorded it for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and It shows ““just how stacked this record really is.” CS “Grey Seal” and “This Song Has No Title…had gospel-tinged melodies and progressions.” TB

In his largely negative review, Rolling Stone’s Stephen Davis called this “a fine, fast numbrer, episodic and brilliantly-produced, one of the few large-production numbers here that succeeds all the way through.” SD

“Harmony”

This song’s “downbeat melodicism” AZ “is a change of pace number. Haunting and subtle, it has great mid-sixties three-part harmony (natch) with backup vocals compliments of Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson. The song sounds as if it might have been recorded for the first or second Bee Gees’ LP, way back when they were a great band.” JS The “sunny, symphonic pop finale” BW is “a star track and a perfect end for a near-perfect album.” JS

Other Songs

Elsewhere on the record Elton shows off his rock side with “the fairground jive of Your Sister Can’t Twist.” TB Roy Rogers is “sentimental and sensitive without ever slipping into that dangerous songwriter’s trap of banality.” JS All the Girls Love Alice “proved to be a ballad of a teenage lesbian,” CG “possibly the earliest rock song to address lesbianism.” JT

There’s also “the ready-made nostalgia of The Ballad of Danny BaileyAZ which features “Bernie Taupin’s literary pretensions” AMG and “novelties [like] Jamiaica Jerk-Off…and everything in between.” AMG “All of this could only come from the man in the glittery glasses who knew no limits to where his piano could take him, and thank God for it.” CS


Notes: A 2003 Deluxe Edition adds “Whenever You’re Ready (We’ll Go Steady),” “Jack Rabbit,” “Screw You (Young Man Blues),” and an alternate version of “Candle in the Wind.”

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First posted 3/21/2008; updated 4/12/2021.

Friday, November 9, 1973

Billy Joel’s Piano Man released

First posted 5/9/2011; updated 9/21/2020.

Piano Man

Billy Joel


Released: November 9, 1973


Peak: 27 US, 98 UK, 26 CN, 14 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, -- UK, 5.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/rock singer-songwriter


Tracks:

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

  1. Travelin’ Prayer (8/17/74, 77 US, 36 CL, 31 AC)
  2. Piano Man (2/23/74, 25 US, 1 CL, 4 AC, 10 CN, 20 AU, sales: 3 million)
  3. Ain’t No Crime
  4. You’re My Home (1981 live version: 100 AU)
  5. The Ballad of Billy the Kid (17 CL)
  6. Worse Comes to Worst (6/29/74, 80 US, 42 CL)
  7. Stop in Nevada
  8. If I Only Had the Words to Tell You
  9. Somewhere Along the Line
  10. Captain Jack (11 CL)


Total Running Time: 42:51

Rating:

3.490 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About the Album:

After failed albums with the Hassles, Attila, and his solo debut, Billy Joel left the east coast for Los Angeles, where he worked as a lounge singer for six months. Thanks to touring and hustling, he landed a contract with Columbia and recorded his second album. “Never mind Movin’ Out – Twyla Tharp should make a Broadway musical out of Joel’s second album, in which a scrappy Long Islander goes West, meets banjo players and decides he wants to be rock’s equivalent of Aaron Copland.” DB

The resulting Piano Man album showed inspiration from James Taylor and Elton John, specifically the latter’s Tumbleweed Connection, both musically and lyrically. AMG With the exception of You’re My Home, a love letter to his wife, he abandoned the more introspective fare of Cold Spring Harbor “for character sketches and epics.” AMG

This is especially notable in the title cut, which became one of Joel’s signature songs. He he offered a fictionalized version of his job as a lounge singer, but rather than focus on himself, he focused on the patrons who inhabited the bar. The song reversed Joel’s fate, reaching the top 40 in the U.S. and putting him on the map.

He still had weaknesses as a lyricist; as evidenced by “mishaps [such] as the ‘instant pleasuredome’ line in ‘You’re My Home’” AMG and “his narratives are occasionally awkward or incomplete” AMG but he “makes it clear that his skills as a melodicist can dazzle.” AMG

He “may have borrowed his basic blueprint from Tumbleweed Connection, particularly with its Western imagery and bluesy gospel flourishes, but he makes it his own” AMG “thanks to his indelible melodies and savvy stylistic repurposing.” AMG Songs like The Ballad of Billy the Kid, which is about more than just the outlaw, showcase how no one other than Elton John “merged such playful grandiosity with so many hooks.” DB

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Saturday, September 29, 1973

Elton John charted with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Elton John

Writer(s): Elton John (music), Bernie Taupin (lyrics) (see lyrics here)


Released: September 7, 1973


First Charted: September 29, 1973


Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 13 RR, 7 AC, 1 CL, 6 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.2 UK, 2.2 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 4.0 radio, 50.73 video, 140.99 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The title cut for Elton John’s seventh album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, was released as the second single after “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” While “Saturday” peaked at #12, “Road” went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the charts on three of the other major pop charts in America at the time.

The song was a top singles pick in the October 20, 1973 issue of Billboard which said, “Elton returns to a medium tempo for his large, round sounding production of a man returning to a simple life. At times it’s hard to understand Elton, but the sonic impression is still strong and haunting. The blending of voices with strings on the bridges is beautiful.” BB

Circus magazine’s Janis Schach called the song “delicate and beautiful.” WK All Music Guide’s Stewart Mason has called it “a strong contender for the coveted title of John’s finest song ever.” AMG “Extravagant, but not pretentious,” AMG the “arrangement builds slowly…to a full orchestral climax at the end of each chorus.” AMG “The wordless melisma that decorates the bridge between the verse and chorus melodies is straight out of the Beach Boys playbook.” AMG “It’s very likely his single finest vocal moment.” AMG

The title is a reference to The Wizard of Oz and the yellow brick road. Bernie Taupin, who wrote the lyrics, often wrote about Elton, but this song “about giving up a life of opulence for one of simplicity in a rural setting” SF appears to be more about Taupin as John “has enjoyed a very extravagant lifestyle.” SF Taupin said, “I was going through that whole ‘got to get back to my roots’ thing…I don’t believe I was ever turning my back on success…I think I was just hoping that maybe there was a happy medum way to exist successfully in a more tranquil setting.” SF It is also “evocative of faded Hollywood glamour;” AMG “a clear-eyed, somewhat bitter, but not vindictive kiss-off to a wealthy former paramour.” AMG


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First posted 4/12/2021.

Saturday, September 8, 1973

Marvin Gaye hit #1 with “Let’s Get It On”

First posted 6/15/2011; updated 3/19/2021.

Let’s Get It On

Marvin Gaye

Writer(s): Marvin Gaye, Ed Townsend (see lyrics here)


First Charted: June 15, 1973


Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 12 HR, 4 RR, 16 RB, 31 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.4 UK, 3.4 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 189.5 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Billboard magazine called this song “one of the greatest sexual liberation anthems of all time.” BB100 “The unabashedly erotic ‘Let’s Get It On’” RH topped the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts in the U.S., but is often overshadowed by his definitive version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and his politically poignant “What’s Going On.” When it comes to sensuality and sexual explicitness, “Sexual Healing” steals some of the thunder from “Let’s Get It On” because it marked a comeback for Gaye before he was tragically shot by his father.

Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on the song, had originally conceived it with a religious theme. WK It then became a political song before evolving into what Rolling Stone called “a masterpiece of erotic persuasion.” RS500 In the liner notes for the parent album, Gaye said, “I can’t see anything wrong with sex between consenting anybodies. I think we make far too much of it.” BR1

An acquaintance of Gaye’s brought Janis Hunter to the recording session and, according to writer Ben Edmonds, she “compelled him to perform the song to her, and in so doing, it was transformed into the masterpiece of raw emotion we know so well.” CR Gaye married her after his divorce from his first wife.

The song features prominently in the movie High Fidelity. John Cusack’s character runs a record store, giving him access to more obscure music than the general population. Nonetheless, he and his girlfriend proclaim the widely popular “Let’s Get It On” as their song. When Cusack hosts a party at the movie’s conclusion, he is understandably nervous about letting co-worker Jack Black perform, convinced he’ll offend everyone. After all, Black doesn’t hold back in his opinions, such as the famous scene in which he mercilessly berates a customer for asking for Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Instead, Black surprises Cusack with a soulful version of “Let’s Get It On,” proving that even the most cynical music fans can’t deny what Gaye called the “aphrodisiac power” RS500 of the song.


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Friday, August 3, 1973

Stevie Wonder released Innervisions

First posted 6/18/2008; updated 12/1/2020.

Innervisions

Stevie Wonder


Released: August 3, 1973


Peak: 4 US, 12 RB, 8 UK, 11 CN, 26 AU


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.1 UK, 6.0 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. Too High [4:36]
  2. Visions [5:23]
  3. Living for the City [7:26] (11/10/73, 8 US, 6 CB, 5 HR, 10 RR, 1 RB, 15 UK, 17 CN)
  4. Golden Lady [4:47]
  5. Higher Ground [3:46] (8/18/73, 4 US, 1 CB, 1 HR, 8 RR, 41 AC, 1 RB, 29 UK, 9 CN)
  6. Jesus Children of America [4:10]
  7. All in Love Is Fair [3:43]
  8. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing [4:45] (3/30/74, 16 US, 10 CB, 11 HR, 15 RR, 9 AC, 2 RB, 13 CN)
  9. He’s Misstra Know-It-All [5:36] (4/13/74, 10 UK)

All songs written by Wonder.


Total Running Time: 44:12

Rating:

4.797 out of 5.00 (average of 25 ratings)


Quotable: “Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece.” – Clarke Speicher, The Review


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

This is when “the boy genius comes of age.” BL As “the preeminent artist of his era” BL with “a career full of towering achievements” RV and a “plethora of deeply funky soul recordings” WR Innervisions stands as Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece.” RV “It’s probably his most cohesive work.” SL-87

The album is “introspective, melancholy, sassy and uplifting, it transcends all notions of soul as schmaltz.” WRInnervisions would display a dark edge, as well as an interest in religious matters that had barely surfaced in his work to that point.” SL-87 If Talking Book is his most personal album, Innervisions is “by far his most political work” RV with “songs addressing drugs, spirituality, political ethics, the unnecessary perils of urban life, and what looked to be the failure of the ‘60s dream – all set within a collection of charts as funky and catchy as any he’d written before.” AMG Wth Innervisions, Wonder “mastered angry, socially conscious, ingenious music that remained danceable.” BL

“Too High”

The “stunning” Too High is “a cautionary tale about drugs driven by a dizzying chorus of scat vocals and a springing bassline.” AMG That song and ‘Living for the City’ “make an especially deep impression thanks to Stevie’s narrative talents.” AMG As the opener, it quickly establishes the record’s forceful yet vibrant tone. “The listener is on fairly familiar ground: Fender-Rhodes, synth bass, drums and exquisite backing vocals form the habitiaul yet un-formulaic sonic palette.” SL-89

“Visions”

On Visions, Wonder “considers the ideal society, which it seems can only exist as a vision in the mind.” SL-89 It “sounds the way you’d expect ancient Greek music to be: airy and harpy and modal, with a good view of Mount Olympus.” SL-89 “The instrumental setting here is unusual: three guitars – one electric…two acoustic.” SL-89

“Living for the City”

This is “the summit of the wunderkind’s blend of funk-addled synth-pop and socially conscious lyrics.” UT It is a brilliant examination of the myriad social ills so endemic to the ghetto experience and a stirring celebration of African-American resilience. It is “an eight-minute mini-epic” AMG and “Wonder’s finest moment.” RV He “preaches without being preachy about the injustices suffered by the black community, using the microcosm of a Southern boy who visits New York City and gets arrested for drug trafficking. Wonder sings with unbridled emotion and ends the song with the hope that the listeners have learned something.” RV “He also uses his variety of voice impersonations to stunning effect.” AMG

“Golden Lady”

Wonder still finds “time for romance with his Golden Lady.” VB The song serves as a contrast to most of the album’s more socially-minded songs. It is a mid-tempo ballad that Stevie said he wrote about Minnie Riperton. SW Wonder was a producer for her 1974 album, Perfect Angel, which produced the hit “Lovin’ You.”

“Higher Ground”

Higher Ground, a funky follow-up to the previous album’s big hit (‘Superstition’).” AMG It “takes the idea that the writer is on his second life, having lived one life of sin…While he’s aspiring to the ‘higher ground,’ he warns others guilty of warring and lying to do the same.” SL-89 It is “the album’s strongest indicator that something new and rather strange was happening to Stevie’s mood.” SL-89

The song took took on even greater resonance in the wake of the car crash which nearly killed him just months after the album’s release. He was in a coma for five days. When Stevie’s publicist and road manager, Ira Tucker, came to the hospital, everyone was “quiet and reverential around Stevie’s bed.” SL-90 Ira suggested a “louder” strategy. He knew Stevie liked to listen to music at high volume and started singing “Higher Ground” loudly in Stevie’s ear. “Eventually a slight movement of the fingers was noticied, followed by a genuine tapping in response to the song.” SL-90

“Jesus Children of America”

“Higher Ground” and “Jesus Children of America, with its tough-minded realism, both introduced Wonder’s interest in Eastern religion.” AMG This one “tackles the innocence of children, depth of religious understanding and belief, sects, junkies, transference of pain, and transcendental meditation – which is probably enough for one tune. But there’s an open-endedness about the song’s message that is attractive rather than irritating or preachy.” SL-89 It’s a tribute to his genius that he could broach topics like reincarnation and transcendental meditation in a pop context with minimal interference to the rest of the album.” AMG

“All in Love Is Fair”

“If ‘Visions’ is the obligatory slow tune on the first side…All in Love Is Fair is the filling in the double sandwich on the second side.” SL-130 It “provides the personal, intimate, soul-searching, dare-one-say Kleenex-grabbing moment of reflection.” SL-130 The assumption is that this is a lament about Stevie’s failed marriage to first wife Syreeta. SL-130

Instrumentally, this is a piano ballad “softened by some light drums, bass and Rhodes” SL-130 as well as a “fiercely committed vocal, rivalling if not exceeding previous tracks in its level of singing prowess.” SL-130 “It’s the voice of experience, looking back over a failed affair with a degree of resignation, but at the same time not blaming either party for the way things changes within a relationship.” SL-130

“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”

This song is built on “the Cuban rhythmic style of the mambo,” SL-163 which sounds like salsa music, but “as usual, Stevie is concerned with getting the flavour of a style and then making it his own.” SL-163 The song creates a character trying to hit on a woman in a bar by impressing her with his “citizen-of-the-world experience.” SL-164 “On closer examination, there’s a sensitive man on hand…The song is a re-assurance to a female friend, letting her know that whether she resists the outside world and its tempting offers, or goe out there to ‘check it out,’ he will support her every inch of the way.” SL-164 It is a “well thought-out lyric, socially aware, and undoubtedly intriguing, as is generally the case on Innervisions.” SL-164

“He’s Misstra Know-It-All”

This served as Wonder’s “statement warning about the dangers of associating with persons only out to deceive.” SW “Wonder also made no secret of the fact that He’s Misstra Know-It-All was directed at Tricky Dick, aka Richard Milhouse Nixon, then making headlines (and destroying America’s faith in the highest office) with the biggest political scandal of the century.” AMG

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