Wednesday, February 13, 2008

STEVIE WONDER REACHES HIGHER GROUND

Anyone familiar with the music of Stevie Wonder can't help but view 1972 with a sense of awe and, well, wonder.

Having just turned 21 the year before, Wonder -- who's being inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame -- had then allowed his contract with Motown to expire, having chafed under Berry Gordy's micro-management and the brand-name signature with which he saddled his various artists.

The subsequent, independently produced albums -- "Music of My Mind" and "Talking Book" -- would eventually be released by Motown, which, in the face of sheer genius, agreed to his demands for more creative control and the rights to his songs. More importantly, the 1972 works represent the artistic summit for a solo artist's output in a single year, and would provide the springboard for a phenomenal run of five brilliant LPs that would culminate with the 1976 double album "Songs in the Key of Life."

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