Album #367 – Songs in the Key of Life
Songs in the Key of Life is one of the best pop albums I have ever listened to. It was Stevie Wonder’s last album released during his Classic Period. Many of the songs still resonate today. But, this album almost never came to be. Wonder considered giving up his career and leaving the U.S. because of his anger at the government. In fact, many of the songs on this album (Village Ghetto Land, Pastime Paradise) deal with social and political issues of the day. But, it was a recording contract with complete creative control that saved the day. Wonder spent huge amounts of time in the studio working on this album. In fact, it has been said that he hardly ate or slept during the recording process, causing everyone around him to desperately catch up. Wonder worked on each song until it was perfect and it shows. Helping out him on Songs in the Key of Life are a who’s who of r&b and pop musicians including Eddie “Bongo” Brown, Greg Phillinganes, long time Wonder collaborator Nathan Watts, Michael Sambello, Bobbye Hall, Herbie Hancock, Minnie Ripperton, Deniece Williams, Sneaky Pete Kleinow and George Benson. In fact, Wonder had about 100 collaborators with him on this album. This number of people is standard on pop albums today but, back then it was uncommon and Wonder is this album’s sole producer, something that is now also a rarity in pop music. Songs in the Key of Life also contains three of Wonder’s most recognizable songs: Sir Duke, I Wish and Isn’t She Lovely? (featuring audio of Stevie playing with his daughter Aisha in the bathtub). This album has left a mark on the music industry influencing countless artists: From Mariah to Whitney, Michael Jackson to George Michael. Will Smith and Coolio have taken samples from this album and made fresh new songs out of them, introducing Wonder’s music to a new generation. This album is in a rare class of it’s own. There will never be another album that comes close to Songs in the Key of Life and for that reason alone, this album is a must listen and essential own for any music fan. You will not be disappointed. Other highlights include: Love’s In Need of Love Today, Have A Talk With God, Ordinary Pain, Joy Inside My Tears, Black Man and As. Overall, I give Songs in the Key of Life, 10 out of 5.
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