From 12-year-old multi-instrumentalist prodigy to groundbreaking adult songwriter and producer, Stevie Wonder is one of the handful of pop musicians who just about everybody agrees is possessed of genius. His 1960s recordings were great straight-up R&B, but his visionary '70s albums took pop and R&B where they'd never been before, incorporating electronics, reggae, and incredibly sophisticated melodic and harmonic development.
One of Stevie Wonder's best albums, and the one where his more fanciful, free-form moments gel perfectly with his knack for irresistible pop singles, 1973's Innervisions swings between delicate and airy ballads, Latin-influenced rhythms (the hit "Don't Worry 'Bout a Thing"), and his own synth-heavy versions of gut-bucket soul (the determined spiritual questing of "Higher Ground"). The striking juxtaposition between "Vision," a barely breathed hope that a world of peace might be upon us, and the great "Living for the City," a funky, pulsing tale of racism, is powerful, haunting, and still all too relevant. --David Cantwell
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