#GuelphMusicClub, Pt. XI: 1974-1983, Edition A

Woo-hoo!

The #GuelphMusicClub is back risen from the dead.

guelphmusic-CLUB
It’s been the long and arduous summer we all expected it to be and the club has fallen down a bit on the list of life priorities.

However, with Music Lives (@MusicLivesCA) having successfully made the transition to print, it looks as if our founder is back and ready to take hold of the reins once again.

A special shout going out to our friend Rob over at soundinmymemory.com / @soundinmymemory.

He will be taking a brief sabbatical from the blog game and being that he is largely responsible for maintaining the pulse on this thing when no one else was willing, we would all like to wish him the best. Hope to see you back again soon, my bro!

Aside from that, I’d just like to say..

 

*     *     *     *     *

After launching the #GuelphMusicClub with a 5-part series on our favourite albums released during the period of 1963-73, we are finally set to revisit this initial concept and focus upon the next decade.

There is one album in particular I was dying to acknowledge.
I figured it would be a popular pick so I am pleased to be the first to mention it.

The masterpiece I am referring to?

Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life  (1976)
songsinthekeyoflife

Stevie Wonder was already at the top of his game by the time he released his pièce de résistance.

After recording three massive consecutive successes in Talking Book  (1972), Innervisions  (1973), and Fulfillingness’ First Finale  (1974) – the latter two would each go on to receive Grammy Awards for Album of the YearWonder was on the verge of abandoning his musical career in order to dedicate his life towards missionary causes in Africa.

Instead, due to his growing disdain for what he considered to be a hypocritical and unjust United States government, Stevie re-upped with Motown for a $37M / 7-year / 7-LP recording contract which also gave him full autonomous control over the creative process, thus becoming only the second artist in the history of the label to receive such a stipulation (the first being the late Marvin Gaye).

Inspired, Wonder would christen the Hit Factory with its first recording sessions, serving as the origin of the studio’s legendary reputation.

hitfactory

421 West 54th Street, NYC

Songs… was becoming his most ambitious project to date and, after a nine-month studio residency, would eventually result in a double-LP with accompanying 4-song EP.

Wonder was often criticized for being overly sappy in regards to his lyrical content and he was ready to show his critics that he was not above stepping outside of his comfort zone. Tackling difficult topics that were often considered taboo for the time, he tackles social issues such as race relations, classism, and mental health with a disobedience atypical of a 1970s pop star.

His level of musicianship was also hitting new plateaus, as Stevie was always unafraid to incorporate unusual instrumentations while never fearing the transition from analog to digital.

Stevie Wonder – “Have a Talk with God”
from the album, SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE  (1976)

The record was universally acclaimed upon its release and, by 1977, had earned Stevie his 3rd Album of the Year Grammy in four years.

He would also go on to win top honours at the ceremony for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, and Producer of the Year.

*     *     *     *     *

It is a bit of a miracle that I even became a big Stevie Wonder fan, as my parents have despised him for about as long as I can remember.

I think they belong to that previously mentioned group of people who find the man too sickeningly sweet.

But what can I say? I was being put onto the big screens at Square One since I was just a little baby dancing along to Lionel Richie at the center of the mall.

Speaking of which, it’s quite possible I have done the #beigelife™ shuffle to this song more than any other in my lifetime:

Stevie Wonder – “Sir Duke”
from the album, SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE  (1976)


YOU CAN FEEL IT ALL OVER!

steviewonder

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