|First posted 4/8/2008; updated 11/6/2020.|
Fulfillingness’ First Finale
Released: July 22, 1974
Peak: 12 US, 18 RB, 5 UK, 11 CN, 19 AU
Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK, 4.5 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Songs written by Wonder unless noted otherwise.
Total Running Time: 42:33
4.257 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)
About the Album:
“After the righteous anger and occasional despair of the socially motivated Innervisions, Stevie Wonder returned with a relationship record: Fulfillingness’ First Finale. The cover pictures his life as an enormous wheel, part of which he’s looking ahead to and part of which he’s already completed (the latter with accompanying images of Little Stevie, JFK and MLK, the Motor Town Revue bus, a child with balloons, his familiar Taurus logo, and multiple Grammy awards).” AMG
First off, there’s the albums two top-ten singles. “With a deep electronic groove balancing organic congas and gospel piano,” AMG the Caribbean-inspired Boogie on Reggae Woman is raucous with an undertone of sadness. The socially conscious You Haven’t Done Nothin’, “an acidic dismissal of President Nixon and the Watergate controversy” AMG is dipped in funk with its midtempo groove and spirited horn arrangement.
Beyond the singles, however, this album has one classic soul recording after another. The album is focused in tone; the music is thought-provoking, from the melody to the lyrics. “The songs and arrangements are the warmest since Talking Book, and Stevie positively caresses his vocals on this set, encompassing the vagaries of love, from dreaming of it (Creepin’) to being bashful of it (Too Shy to Say) to knowing when it’s over (It Ain’t No Use).” AMG In the wake of his serious car accident, Wonder contemplates death and afterlife on Heaven... and They Won’t Go When I Go.
“As before, Fulfillingness’ First Finale is mostly the work of a single man; Stevie invited over just a bare few musicians, and most of those were background vocalists (though of the finest caliber: Minnie Riperton, Paul Anka, Deniece Williams, and the Jackson 5). Also as before, the appearances are perfectly chosen; ‘Too Shy to Say’ can only benefit from the acoustic bass of Motown institution James Jamerson and the heavenly steel guitar of Sneaky Pete Kleinow, while the Jackson 5 provide some righteous amens to Stevie’s preaching on ‘You Haven’t Done Nothin’.” AMG
“It’s also very refreshing to hear more songs devoted to the many and varied stages of romance, among them ‘It Ain’t No Use,’ ‘Too Shy to Say,’ Please Don’t Go. The only element lacking here, in comparison to the rest of his string of brilliant early-‘70s records, is a clear focus; Fulfillingness’ First Finale is more a collection of excellent songs than an excellent album.” AMG
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