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Stevie Wonder

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Our Music Year No. 101: Stevie Wonder, ‘Songs in the Key of Life’

By From page A5 | April 11, 2013

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title: “Songs in the Key of Life”
Year: 1976
Format: Spotify
Grade: A

No, I’d never heard “Songs in the Key of Life.” Stop judging me.

Not only that, I’d never heard – in its entirety – any of the albums from Stevie Wonder’s incredible ’70s stretch.

What surprised me was how much of “Songs” I actually did already know. “Sir Duke” and “I Wish” were familiar funk R&B classics, I just didn’t know their names. “Pastime Paradise” lays the framework for Coolio’s ’90s rap hit “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

A double album, the first side is bangin’, but really takes flight with “Duke,” written in tribute to Duke Ellington, who died in ’74. The second platter starts with “Isn’t She Lovely?,” perhaps the most enduring track on “Songs.”

There are a few tracks that feel like filler, but “Songs” truly covers a spectrum of human emotion, as the title would suggest: birth, first love, the birth of children, racial harmony, social issues.

It’s considered the height of Wonder’s ’70s output and there’s no question why: quality songs, innovation, emotion. I honestly don’t know why I’ve never heard this before.

Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
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Discussion | 3 comments

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  • Tony WadeApril 11, 2013 - 9:05 pm

    The grade is correct. Filler? Uh, no. Just awesomeness throughout. Keep those reviews comin'!

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  • Ditto....April 11, 2013 - 9:23 pm

    What that sexy guy above just said....I have not flirted w/you in a long time...alas I can only keep up with just so many dalliances at one time....so sad.....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Hey you know what?April 11, 2013 - 9:49 pm

    You can be part of my rookie team, you too DeCicco, not quite part of my "Love Triangle". You will have to make out, I mean make do with just being part of my "Love Tangle"? Thanks guys?.....Ain't writers wonderful?

    Reply | Report abusive comment

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