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March 26, 2013 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Stevie Wonder, in his prime. Jesus.
posted by timsteil (45 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great, isn't it?
posted by MartinWisse at 7:04 AM on March 26, 2013


I hadn't seen this. Thanks!

If you want to get your morning headed in the right direction, please be sure to check out Living For the City.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:06 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Track listing and line-up.
posted by titus-g at 7:08 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't miss this appearance on Sesame Street, either.
posted by jquinby at 7:15 AM on March 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


Feel free to link to Stevie Wonder not in his prime. I'm sure no such link exists.
posted by phaedon at 7:19 AM on March 26, 2013 [19 favorites]


Hmmm...
posted by MartinWisse at 7:22 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've owned bass cabinets with more stage presence than longhaired guitarist
posted by thelonius at 7:35 AM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Abso-fucking-lutely wonderful. Thank you timsteil!
posted by jack_mo at 7:38 AM on March 26, 2013


I've owned bass cabinets with more stage presence than longhaired guitarist

FWIW, the long-haired guitarists is Michael "Maniac" Sembello.
posted by timsteil at 7:43 AM on March 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


The haircuts, the beards and moustaches, the leather jackets and jean jackets and the film cameras just say "Vietnam War" to me. He was performing while this guy was shooting pictures.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:47 AM on March 26, 2013


Yeah, this is pretty boss.

I think that there is non-prime Stevie, but damn did he have an extended period of prime!
posted by dirtdirt at 7:47 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was just looking for that Sesame Street video again, which is notable not only for Stevie and his ever-fabulous band (seriously, that LINEUP) but for the kid absolutely rocking the fuck out on the fire escape. That is the technical term.
posted by Madamina at 7:54 AM on March 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow. That's just on another plane. That version of Superstition at the end just sends chills ...
posted by carter at 7:56 AM on March 26, 2013


That's been my favorite version of Superstition for a long time.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:04 AM on March 26, 2013


That guy absolutely layin' it down on drums? The one I'd kill to be half as good as? Looks like he's selling real estate these days. Funny world.
posted by echo target at 8:12 AM on March 26, 2013


I saw the video was over 31 minutes and said to myself, "Just fast forward to get to Livin for the City," and 35 minutes later, I watched the whole damned thing. Unbelievably good.
posted by kinetic at 8:16 AM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]



I think that there is non-prime Stevie,


Absolutely. I'd argue it starts with the album about the life of plants (late 70s?) and continues from there ... so it's a non-prime that far exceeds his prime. What I love about a clip like this is that it reminds us of just how f***ing extraordinary that guy was in his prime. I'm not saying he "sold out" or anything, but something about his music just became less urgent, less intense, less essential as the 80s rolled in. Maybe just blame Ronald Reagan.
posted by philip-random at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feel free to link to Stevie Wonder not in his prime. I'm sure no such link exists.

Saw him live a year-and-a-half ago at North Sea Jazz in Curacao. You'll find no such links from that performance, that's for sure!
posted by DreamerFi at 8:36 AM on March 26, 2013


Stevie Wonder Drum Solo.
posted by gwint at 8:39 AM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Early prime.
posted by Jode at 8:55 AM on March 26, 2013


Also, how is it this he is only 62? Because he had his first hit at age 13.
posted by gwint at 9:03 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


A reminder of his brilliance, thanks.
posted by ersatz at 9:20 AM on March 26, 2013


What a great way to start the day. Thanks, timsteil.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:30 AM on March 26, 2013


For a long time Stevie Wonder to me was nothing but his uptempo stuff: Superstition, Maybe Your Baby, You Haven't Done Nothin' and so on. Then one day something clicked and I stopped skipping through the ballads, because DAMN. I guess what I'm saying is don't skip over the ballads in the middle! (Also, that drop from Higher Ground into Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing? Wow.)
posted by Lorin at 9:33 AM on March 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


At about 28:50 there's some long haired bloke in the background sucking on a Meerschaum and nodding his head ...
posted by carter at 9:48 AM on March 26, 2013


Not disputing that the 70s was his richest period, but please give Hotter than July (1980) a chance. It is a fantastic (and classic) album.
posted by blucevalo at 9:50 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Looking at the credits for a Stevie Wonder album is always a humbling experience. So many classic tracks that he played literally every instrument on.
posted by Lorin at 9:59 AM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think what makes this wonderful, is that this is an era when Stevie's music still was as much a voice for social justice as Dylan's was a decade before.

Higher Ground meant something to people, and I've seen a grown man cry over Living For The City because that was pretty much the world he grew up in. You Haven't Don Nothin wasn't just a jam, it was a voice of pride, not just for my bros with the fros, but anyone who wanted to stick it up Nixon's ass. Small town white boys included

He did protest music, and at some point people stopped caring, and he slipped into more of a play the oldies guy.

Not that his talent has diminished in anyway, but maybe once you are at his stage, maybe you don't have the same impetus to change things.

I think he (and hopefully the world) knows that when Stevie Wonder shows up to sing, it ain't gonna be about Mountain Dew, that while he may not be delivering the message in the same way he did before, the very fact he is there, will make you listen just a bit closer to those that do.

I don't know if I even need a second hand to count the number of musicians I would say could rest on their laurels and I'm cool with that.

But he is on the short list.
posted by timsteil at 9:59 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aaaah, thanks for the link. Had to close my office door so I could rock out like that kid on Sesame Street.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 10:08 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this, it's incredible. I don't recall ever hearing the wonderful ballad "I Can See the Sun in Late December". Did he ever record it later? I don't remember it being on any of those records.
Anyone know?
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:34 AM on March 26, 2013


Also, how is it this he is only 62? Because he had his first hit at age 13.

Back when he was called Little Stevie Wonder. Not every child prodigy ends up a mess.
posted by tommasz at 10:43 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stevie. Jimi.
That's it.
posted by dragonsi55 at 12:24 PM on March 26, 2013


Why does it cut off? Argh!
posted by lazaruslong at 12:48 PM on March 26, 2013


I didn't know Captain Kangaroo played rhythm guitar!
posted by NedKoppel at 12:53 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck. Me. That's good.

I have no idea why I don't own more of his music. *Runs off to Spotify and then to Amazon.*
posted by milkb0at at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think Stevie recorded it, but Roberta Flack did a great version of I Can See The Sun In Late December.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:53 PM on March 26, 2013


I stopped underestimating Stevie Wonder the first time I attempted to do Signed, Sealed... Delivered at karaoke... lead-balloon, in-the-Marianas-trench-after-first-being-attacked-by-sharks, then-giant-squids-and-perhaps-the-enterprising-snotworm-style.
Then I saw in his legacy section on wikipedia:
Impact
Wonder's songs are renowned for being quite difficult to sing.

Emprically yes, they are damn hard to sing. Because, in addition to the inherent musical complexity, he is a goddamn rhythmic and filagree artist, never quite doing the same thing in any recording. I love that this show has a much dirtier backbeat on Superstition than Sesame Street, and makes the Talking Book cut sound absolutely sterile in comparison.
I've ripped this video with a vengence, due to extreme awesomeness, and my duly chagrined need to sing along, with all requisite reverence to his genius, but only in the privacy of my own home or car. Very much thanks timsteil.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:33 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nobody LOOKED cooler than early 70s Stevie, either.
posted by Dokterrock at 8:35 PM on March 26, 2013


Seconding the love for Hotter Than July. Especially Happy Birthday. Such a great song. And I'll even go to bat for later hits like Part Time Lover and I Just Called to say I Love You. They lack the funk of early Stevie, but they're still damn good songs.

Stevie's prime was such a perfect storm of him being young and talented and coming out of the Motown system and cut loose to do his thing, right at such an amazing creative time for popular music and social awareness.

But if we're just posting our favorite Stevie song, mine is As.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:09 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not just Wonder who declined, it's the whole genre. Compare the diversity and vitality of the R&B music of the early 70's to any of the over-produced, slick, dance floor music that came out in the 80's.
posted by thelonius at 3:17 AM on March 27, 2013


Re: Slick 80's dance floor music?

Not sure, but I wouldn't doubt, save live horns, he played pretty much everything on this.
posted by timsteil at 3:25 AM on March 27, 2013


In my dreams this set never ends and they just keep on playing.....
posted by Plug1 at 4:39 AM on March 27, 2013


That's a nice song and Wonder's melodic gifts are evident, but I don't find the drum machine dominated, sequenced arrangement to be an improvement over the sound of the band in the main video.
posted by thelonius at 5:07 AM on March 27, 2013


At the risk of stating the blatantly obvious: if you have a chance to see him play live, you should probably make it your business to do so.
posted by Optamystic at 5:45 AM on March 27, 2013


Also from 1973, promo reel for Innervisions.
posted by timsteil at 9:00 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


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