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Songs in the Key of Life
     

Songs in the Key of Life

4.7 19
by Stevie Wonder
 

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This 1976 double album took Wonder two years to complete, but it was the grand slam that cemented Wonder's status as a musical visionary. Songs in the Key of Life is his most balanced synergy of spirituality, romance, and politics. Musically, Wonder combines immediate melodies with more complex orchestration than he had on previous albums. Triumphant horns

Overview

This 1976 double album took Wonder two years to complete, but it was the grand slam that cemented Wonder's status as a musical visionary. Songs in the Key of Life is his most balanced synergy of spirituality, romance, and politics. Musically, Wonder combines immediate melodies with more complex orchestration than he had on previous albums. Triumphant horns introduce the euphoric "Sir Duke," while a funky organ melody underpins the Grammy-winning single "I Wish." Meanwhile, simple songs such as "Knocks Me off My Feet" and "Joy Inside My Tears" are as emotionally stunning as grander affairs like the big band celebration "Another Star" and the jazzy "Summer Soft." The reissue also includes four songs that originally accompanied the album on a 45 insert, including "Ebony Eyes," an homage to African-American women, and the sexy, guitar funk classic "All Day Sucker." The significance of this recording to soul music is immeasurable -- Songs in the Key of Life is an incomparable tribute to love, spirit, justice, and the joy of life itself.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
Songs in the Key of Life was Stevie Wonder's longest, most ambitious collection of songs, a two-LP (plus accompanying EP) set that -- just as the title promised -- touched on nearly every issue under the sun, and did it all with ambitious (even for him), wide-ranging arrangements and some of the best performances of Wonder's career. The opening "Love's in Need of Love Today" and "Have a Talk with God" are curiously subdued, but Stevie soon kicks into gear with "Village Ghetto Land," a fierce exposé of ghetto neglect set to a satirical Baroque synthesizer. Hot on its heels comes the torrid fusion jam "Contusion," a big, brassy hit tribute to the recently departed Duke Ellington in "Sir Duke," and (another hit, this one a Grammy winner as well) the bumping poem to his childhood, "I Wish." Though they didn't necessarily appear in order, Songs in the Key of Life contains nearly a full album on love and relationships, along with another full album on issues social and spiritual. Fans of the love album Talking Book can marvel that he sets the bar even higher here, with brilliant material like the tenderly cathartic and gloriously redemptive "Joy Inside My Tears," the two-part, smooth-and-rough "Ordinary Pain," the bitterly ironic "All Day Sucker," or another classic heartbreaker, "Summer Soft." Those inclined toward Stevie Wonder the social-issues artist had quite a few songs to focus on as well: "Black Man" was a Bicentennial school lesson on remembering the vastly different people who helped build America; "Pastime Paradise" examined the plight of those who live in the past and have little hope for the future; "Village Ghetto Land" brought listeners to a nightmare of urban wasteland; and "Saturn" found Stevie questioning his kinship with the rest of humanity and amusingly imagining paradise as a residency on a distant planet. If all this sounds overwhelming, it is; Stevie Wonder had talent to spare during the mid-'70s, and instead of letting the reserve trickle out during the rest of the decade, he let it all go with one massive burst. (His only subsequent record of the '70s was the similarly gargantuan but largely instrumental soundtrack Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.)

Product Details

Release Date:
05/02/2000
Label:
Motown
UPC:
0601215735727
catalogNumber:
157357
Rank:
7514

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Stevie Wonder   Primary Artist,Harmonica,Keyboards,Vocals
Greg Brown   Drums
Deniece Williams   Vocals,Background Vocals
Minnie Riperton   Vocals,Background Vocals
Dorothy Ashby   Harp
George Benson   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Ronnie Foster   Organ
Herbie Hancock   Keyboards,Hand Clapping
Bobbi Humphrey   Flute
Gary Byrd   Vocals
Michael Wycoff   Vocals,Background Vocals
Michael Sembello   Acoustic Guitar
Carol Cole   Percussion
Bobbye Hall   Percussion
Sneaky Pete Kleinow   Pedal Steel Guitar
Jay Boy Adams   Vocals
Nathan Alford   Percussion
Henry America   Vocals
Linda America   Vocals
Baradras   Vocals
Brenda Barnett   Vocals
Khalif Bobatoon   Vocals
Starshemah Bobatoon   Vocals
Sudana Bobatoon   Vocals
George Bohannon   Trombone
Charles Brewer   Percussion,Background Vocals
Shirley Brewer   Percussion,Vocals,Background Vocals,Speech/Speaker/Speaking Part
Ben Bridges   Acoustic Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Sitar
Berry Briges   Vocals
Cecilia Brown   Vocals
Eddie "Bongo" Brown   Percussion
Jean Brown   Vocals
Rodney Brown   Vocals
Colleen Carleton   Percussion,Background Vocals
Addie Cox   Vocals,Background Vocals
Agnideva Dasa   Vocals
Duryodhana Guru Dasa   Vocals
Jayasacinandana Dasa   Vocals
Jitamrtyi Dasa   Vocals
Vedavyasa Dasa   Vocals
Cinmayi Dasi   Vocals,Background Vocals
Yogamaya Dasi   Vocals,Background Vocals
Carolyn Dennis   Background Vocals
Bhakta Eddie   Vocals
Doé Rain Edwards   Vocals
Jacqueline F. English   Vocals
Ethel Enoex   Vocals,Background Vocals
Jocko Fann   Vocals
Barbara Fann   Vocals
Melani Fann   Vocals
Shelley Fann   Vocals
Tracy Fann   Vocals
Howard "Buzz" Feiten   Guitar
Glenn Ferris   Trombone
John Fischbach   Percussion,Background Vocals
Susie Fuzzell   Vocals
Carmelo Garcia   Percussion,Timbales
Anthony Givens   Vocals
Audrey Givens   Vocals
Derrick Givens   Vocals
Mildred Givens   Vocals
Michael Lee Gray   Vocals
Mimi Green   Vocals
Susaye Greene Brown   Vocals
Bhakta Gregory   Vocals
Renee Hardaway   Percussion,Vocals,Background Vocals
Jeania Harris   Vocals
Troy Harris   Vocals
Nelson Hayes   Percussion,Background Vocals
Terri Hendricks   Vocals,Background Vocals
David Henson   Vocals,Hand Clapping
Jim Horn   Saxophone
Adrian Janes   Vocals
Josie James   Vocals,Background Vocals
Calvin Johnson   Vocals
Patricia Johnson   Vocals
Madelaine Jones   Vocals
Bhakta Kevin   Vocals
Phillip Kimble   Vocals
James Lambert   Vocals,Background Vocals
Larry Latimer   Percussion,Vocals
Lynda Laurence   Vocals
Linda Lawrence   Vocals,Background Vocals
Trevor Lawrence   Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Irma Leslie   Vocals
Kim Lewis   Vocals
Carl Lockhart   Vocals
Gail Lockhart   Vocals
Steve Madaio   Trumpet
Raymond Maldonado   Percussion,Trumpet
Carolyn Massenburg   Vocals
Amale Mathews   Percussion,Background Vocals
Artice May   Vocals
Charity McCrary   Vocals,Background Vocals
Linda McCrary-Campbell   Vocals,Background Vocals
Lonnie Morgan   Vocals,Background Vocals
Kim Nixon   Vocals
Lisa Nixon   Vocals
Larri Nuckens   Vocals
Edna Orso   Percussion,Background Vocals
Dean Parks   Acoustic Guitar
Gwen Perry   Vocals
Greg Phillinganes   Keyboards
Raymond Lee Pounds   Drums
Hank Redd   Saxophone,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Gregory Rudd   Vocals
Rukmini   Vocals
Yolanda Simmons   Vocals,Hand Clapping
Keith Slaughter   Vocals
Rosona Starks   Vocals,Background Vocals
Dennis Swindell   Vocals,Background Vocals
Sundray Tucker   Vocals,Background Vocals
Josette Valentino   Percussion,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Gary Veney   Vocals
Sheryl Walker   Vocals,Background Vocals
Marietta Waters   Percussion,Background Vocals
Mary Lee Whitney   Vocals,Background Vocals
Syreeta Wright   Vocals,Background Vocals
W.G. Snuffy Walden   Acoustic Guitar
Ray Pound   Drums
Michael Gray   Vocals
Susaye Greene   Vocals
Nathan Watts   Bass,Percussion,Vocals,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Greg Brown   Drums
William Moore   Vocals
Carol Johnson   Vocals
Dean Park   Guitar

Technical Credits

Larry Scott   Sound Effects
Tony Warren   Illustrations
Charles Brewer   Programming
John Fischbach   Programming,Engineer
John Harris   Programming,Sound Effects
Nelson Hayes   Sound Effects
Don Hunter   Programming,Sound Effects
Gary Olazabal   Engineer
Stevie Wonder   Arranger,Programming,Producer
Mathieu Bitton   Reissue Design
Fountain Jones   Programming
John Fishbach   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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Songs in the Key of Life 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
SexPanther More than 1 year ago
This album actually breathes air....... The sound you get from this album compared to rock bands like The Who or The Rolling Stones, who have a sound that sounds very full, is music that seems as if there is life to it. They don't just play for the sake of playing they play these notes because it represents life, hardships, and reflects the world as a whole. The album almost has a life of its own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stevie Wonder is a very talented musician and that is evident in this album. I could not tear myself away from my stereo while listening to this cd. I can't even pick one song on the album that is my favorite because I love them all....This is a great album to add to your music collection
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everytime I hear it I remember that life keeps on going even when you have paused to take a break from it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What else can I say?! If there is one Stevie album to have, then THIS IS IT!!! The music is timeless &amp quot it sounds better than much of the sludge played on radio today&amp quot and the lyrics remain relevant 30+ years later. Just brilliant workmanship, production, lyrics, harmonies, melodies, the works!! This is a standard and all should live by &amp quot Songs in the Key of Life&amp quot !!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What more can be written about this album! I grew up listening to this timeless treasure and will hand it down to my son. Stevie's music will live on forever and other artist should aspire to create wonderful music like his.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a classic album he talks about everything from love to joy to pain to poverty this set the standard for all double albums
Guest More than 1 year ago
Band on the Run, Graceland, Santana. A few priceless albums which transcend race, culture and gender. Stevie rates w/the best of all time and this record simply sends it home. Long live Stevie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If You love Stevie Wonder, this is a must have. It has 4cds and covers a large portion of his career. You will not be dissapointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
stevie wonder was at his very best with this cross over album
Guest More than 1 year ago
STEVIE WONDER IS ONE OF THE GREATEST ARTISTS OF ALL TIME HIS MUSIC THE KIND OF MUSIC I LOVE TO HEAR SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE IS HIS GREATEST ALBUM EVER IT WON THE GRAMMY FOR ALBUM OF THE YEAR IN 1977 AND ALSO IN A VH-1 POLL IT WAS NAMED THE GREATEST ALBUM EVER
Guest More than 1 year ago
With the exception of the masterpiece ode to his daughter, ''Isn't She Lovely'', songs that stand out to me on this album are the ones that tend to get less airplay. Each day, people living in my area can catch me singing at least one of these songs; ''Another Star'', ''Ngiculela'', ''Summer Soft'', ''Knocks Me Off My Feet'', ''Ordinary Pain'', ''As'', ''Saturn'', and of course, ''Isn't She Lovely'', as loud as humanly possible. I really love this album and it actually stands out from my 20 other beloved Stevie Wonder albums because it had SO many great ballads. Anything this man touches is GOLD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stevie Wonder is truly my favorite musician. This album ranks as one of the most wonderful pieces of music ever written. Is there anything more beautiful than the simplicity of Knocks Me Off My Feet? It is the embodiment of love when it first stirs your heart and lifts your soul. If anyone were to write the soundtrack for the movie of my life, it would be Mr. Stevie Wonder.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stevie is so incredible he really surpasses words. The song saturn and ebony eyes are my personal favorites on this album. My mother must have inbred love for his music in me as a child because I never get enough of him. This album epitomizes his artistry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album, is one of the greatests works that he was done. With some unatural guidance, he was change the direction of music in the world. As a musichan, I can say "IT´S THE BEST ALBUM THAT I´VE EVER HEARD". But is not the only one
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