Saturday, November 24, 1979

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

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.

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 6/20/2008; last updated 8/3/2021.

Thursday, November 1, 1979

50 years ago: Fats Waller releases “Ain’t Misbehavin’”

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Fats Waller

Writer(s): Fats Waller, Harry Brooks, Andy Razaf (see lyrics here)


Released: November 1, 1929


First Charted: November 9, 1929


Peak: 17 US, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


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

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Waller, a New York City-born pianist and organ accompanist during the ‘20s, collaborated on several Broadway musical scores…[and] broke through as one of the country’s most popular entertainers due to his playful, high-spirited vocals, and distinctive stride piano style, and jazz accompaniment. PM

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” was written for the 1929 all-black revue Hot Chocolates and debuted by Louis Armstrong, who credited the revue with launching his career. TY It was so popular it moved to Broadway, RCG where Armstrong made his bring-the-house-down debut. JA It ran “for a very respectable 219 performances, seventh best out of the thirty-four musicals that opened in 1929.” SS

Armstrong also recorded the song JA and charted with it (#7) in 1929, as did Leo Reisman (#2), Bill Robinson with Irving Mills (#8), Gene Austin (#9), and Ruth Etting (#16). However, it was Waller’s own piano solo version (#17) which became the classic. JA Waller would sing the song with Ada Brown in the film Stormy Weather (1943) JA and it was featured in 1951’s The Strip (1951). MM

In 1937, Teddy Wilson took the song back to the top 10. Ray Charles, Nat “King” Cole, Billie Holiday, Earth Kitt, Kay Starr, Dinah Washington, and Hank Williams Jr. also recorded the song. RCG Comedian George Burns made it his signature song, announcing to his partner Gracie Allen that he “could sing a million songs” to which she’d reply, “Yeah, but you only know one.” Then George would start singing the jingle for whoever was sponsoring his radio show, but it would turn into “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” RCG


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Fats Waller
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 5.
  • MM Max Morath (2002). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards. New York, NY; Penguin Putnam Inc. Page 149.
  • RCG RimChiGuy.com The Old Songs (1900-1929)
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 449.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 46.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 435.


First posted 11/1/2016; last updated 12/27/2021.