Tom Robinson : top 10 favourite albums : number 4 : 1974 STEVIE WONDER – Fulfillingness’ First Finale

If you put a gun against my head and made me pick the one living music artist anywhere in the world who deserves the title “genius” it wouldn’t be Brian Wilson, Prince or Pharrell Williams. Stevie Wonder has done more than perhaps any living person to change the course of popular music over the last 60 years. When he renegotiated his Tamla Motown contract in 1971, gaining artistic autonomy and a much higher royalty rate, it paved the way for Black American music to bust out of the “soul” ghetto and into the pop mainstream. Open till that point, music labels such as Motown, Stax and Chess had to call the shots over what music their artists could play and record. Stevie used his new-found autonomy to record a blistering series of albums that smashed their way into the white mainstream. Talking Book and Innervisions are rightly seen as masterworks, but I personally prefer the third album in the trilogy, where Wonder had nothing left to prove and could simply kick back and enjoy himself. Boogie On Reggae Woman in particular is that rarest of things, like Doctor John’s Gris Gris Gumbo: a record unlike any other before or since. Just listen to the sheer uninhibited joy of his vocal, his extraordinary harmonica playing, the unique loping groove of his drumming, and above all, that exhuberant Moog bassline – and marvel.

For number 5 in Tom Robinson’s top 10 favourite albums please for here

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