The Blerd Radio team (me AKA MJ AKA Big Money, Dr. Z., Cunningham and Michael Parr) is at it again, dedicating this episode to Stevie Wonder on the launch of his Songs In The Key of Life retrospective tour. An all-Stevie episode has been on the agenda for quite a while, but we finally decided to go for the gusto, focusing on his “golden” era, a period that covers his iconic albums Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’s First Finale, and Key of Life.
Among the topics discussed over the 80-minute podcast:
-The newsworthiness of the “Stevie Wonder Truthers”- a group of people who’ve surfaced with the hypothesis that Stevie has been feigning blindness for the past 64 years.
-Pre-Talking Book Stevie- 14 albums (!!) some killer singles, glimpses of a monster talent, and a version of “Light My Fire” that’s leagues better than the original (’cause fuck The Doors.)
-Which living Motown artist/personality will helm the era’s definitive biography? Why hasn’t Stevie written a book yet?
-“Maybe Your Baby”-yea or nay?
-The mention of Don McLean’s American Pie (which was nominated for a 1972 Album of the Year Grammy when Talking Book was not) sets Cunningham into a tizzy-the ensuing rant is priceless.
-How songs as sappy as “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” and “Isn’t She Lovely” managed to capture the hearts of people who were not predisposed to such Hallmark-card sentiment.
–Innervisions as Big Money’s first Stevie album and (arguably) his favorite album of all time.
-Peak Period Stevie’s ability to deliver messages while not seeming heavy-handed.
-Stevie’s Sleeper: Fulfillingness’ First Finale
-The weird bond between Stevie and Bette Midler (at least as pertains to the Grammy Awards)
–Key of Life covers and Celine Dion’s reminiscings about being a little nappy-headed child.
-How unique it is to have a multi-record set that’s good ALL the way through.
-Driving straight from the middle of the road into the ditch via Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants.
-Modern-day Stevie’s material getting short shrift thanks to the long shadow cast by his best work.
-“I Just Called To Say I Love You”-because.
-Alicia Keys getting sonned (nicely) by Stevie on national television.
(I can’t find the stupid clip.)
-Stevie’s amazing vocal agility-still largely intact after fifty+ years of singing.
-Cunningham (the star of this particular podcast) confuses Stevie with Ray Charles because of course! He also relates the story of hip-hop producer Peanut Butter Wolf meeting Stevie at a urinal.
-This turn in the conversation occurs thanks to Cunningham’s recommendation of Yesterday’s New Quintet.
-The Songs In The Key of Life listening party documentary.
…and so much more!
Feel free to listen in the player below, or directly download from the good folks at Liberated Syndication.
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