I don’t really know Stevie Wonder. You know what I mean. Like you know your friends and family. I only have an idea of the brother through his music and reports on him via the media. Those are not comprehensive, accurate means by which to get to know a brother properly, but there are still some things you can kind of patch together. For example you know the brother’s committed to various elements of social justice like the Martin Luther King birthday campaign and his stance against things like apartheid. You also know the brother is into love, peace and harmony through his aptitude to use any chance he gets to promote these values.
The guy also knows how to have fun and likes a laugh – it’s not all serious. Yet he is deeply committed to whatever he presents to the extent that his output in the 1980’s and especially the 1990’s was fairly sparse because of the tinkering he would do to tracks so that something that you may have heard live would not appear on an album until years later. It’s a pity, really, because it’s clear that the creativity of the brother could have allowed him to churn out albums at a more regular rate just by making the most of the apparently large back-catalogue of stuff he’s left in his own archives. So that’s the stuff he creates on an ongoing basis as well as that mass of stuff that remains unreleased.
Regardless of this tragedy the stuff he churned out in the 90’s was never really regarded in the same breathe as the 70’s material which on the whole is fair and unfair. It’s fair because there’s no way you can compare Conversation Peace to Talking Book or Innervisions, on the whole the former isn’t as good as the latter. Yet what’s unfair with the comparison is that it doesn’t take into account Stevie’s growth and development as an artist.
So take this criminally underrated song from the Jungle Fever album. It’s a happy go lucky kind of song and has such a bright and cheery atmosphere to it that once in the groove you feel the song in one of those outta sight enjoyable kind of ways. I don’t expect him to come out with material like this in the 70’s, it’s only as he’s grown comfortable in his own songwriting skin, that he can pop out with something like this.
Songs as good as this prove that it’s worth sticking with the brother through his career because there are some songs just as good as the 70’s stuff, even if the overall quality of the albums might not match it. Enjoy.