Monday, 11 August 2014

REWIND: Stevie Wonder - 'He's Misstra Know It All'

Part of a three-part career peak, Stevie Wonder's magnificent 'Innervisions' is one of my favourite soul albums of all time. It was his 16th studio album and was released back in 1973, on Motown Records, and is regularly hailed as a major part of his "classic period". I first heard this album about 14 years or so when I found a vinyl copy for only 50p at the record stall in Bath's Green Park Station market, along with a copy of 'Talking Book' for the same price. Purchases I bought purely on impulse, and certainly didn't regret. The LP's sound is characterised by prominent use of the ARP synthesizer used prominently throughout the album, and Wonder also played virtually all the  instruments on six of the nine tracks... On the surface, the closing 'He's Misstra Know It All' is chilled, laid back and easy going. Almost friendly even. But hiding underneath is a venomous attack on then-US President Richard Nixon, who is likened to a confidence trickster. One of the reasons I was so willing to take a chance on 'Innervisions' all those years ago was because of that brilliant cover art. A review by John Bush at AllMusic says "Putting all these differing themes and topics into perspective was the front cover, a striking piece by Efram Wolff portraying Stevie Wonder as the blind visionary, an artist seeing far better than those around him what was going on in the early '70s, and using his astonishing musical gifts to make this commentary one of the most effective and entertaining ever heard."

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