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)
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
All songs written by Wonder.
Total Running Time: 44:12
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.” WR “Innervisions 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
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
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
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, 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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First posted 6/18/2008; last updated 8/3/2021.
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