So last week I was all up in here about how Mint Condition did a quality tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire. As with a lot of R’n’B groups there’s a great deal that today’s groups and solo artists have to give thanks for in the work of Stevie Wonder and there’s been cover versions rife in this here blog. So it’s natural when I come across a group I admire doing some work on someone I admire that I highlight it for your listening pleasure.
Joy Inside My Tears (JIMT) is not the first song you think of when you consider Stevie Wonder. I doubt if you would pick it out of twenty Stevie tracks. In fact if you considered Stevie’s best known album Songs In The Key Of Life you’re still thinking of at least four tracks before you might consider JIMT. This is part of the quality of the man that such is the abundance of material that people are spoilt for choice as to what to cover and then can even look at some unearthed treasures. Now when you listen to the song it’s a bit ambiguous. The feel, tone and beat of the song is rather subdued and slow, somewhat drowsy, yet the lyrical content is about how the singer is obviously pleased to come across someone who has brought what the song title brings about. It’s not an upbeat, happy-go-lucky tune, but there is something about the hopeful, promising, somewhat positive somewhere in the chord progressions especially in the satisfied structure of the chords at the end. What helps is Stevie’s slow build vocal performance to that insistent cry of joy near the end and it’s almost as though the brother is crying.
Here’s the thing with what Mint Condition does with this track, though. They obviously bring out a bouncier feel to the song and invest with more energy almost as though the joy is a lot more tangible. What helps is with the build of the song so that by the time you reach the guitar solos albeit still maintaining the chilled laid back feel that Stevie had, you’re feeling how life’s history has been made and it is a truly joyful rendition. The lead vocals are outstanding and without over-doing it with the twiddly bits, which can be off-putting, there is that similar sense that truly joy has been experienced in the whole deal. It is a brilliant cover and one worthy of being alongside Stevie’s original version.
As a dmcd bonus here’s a Stevie live version. It’s one thing to get something down in the studio, but you always wonder how it will translate in the live situation. It translates very well and despite the twiddly annoying Stevie vocal acrobatics that he’s felt the need to put in his songs (and if you think this is bad, listen to this one at the end to get vocal acrobatics overload) it stands well the test of being convincing and enjoyable.
It is to Mint Condition’s credit then that they have come up with something that measures up to the standards of the trend-setter himself. Good to take on board the classics and see them revisited with class and style. Enjoy.