Empty wine bottles. So many bottles. And nothing but time to sleep off the previous night’s revelry. Before there was you, there was only me. And before there was me, there were my mom and dad (your Kiki and Granddad). In the mid 70’s, they were newlyweds living in uptown New Orleans ringing in the night to this album. In the late 2000’s, I was a “bachelor” (dislike that word) living in my first home purchase, a condo in the Warehouse District on Magazine St., “living for the city.” I picked up this original pressing at Euclid Records in the Bywater in 2008. Immediately, Innervisions was a constant late night go-to for me. Best enjoyed with a bottle of wine and friends or a loved one. You may find yourself in 2040 enjoying this album the same way we did. I like to think you will.
It’s hard to imagine that at the age of 23, Stevie Wonder, blind since shortly after birth, completed this, his 16th album and mostly by himself as he composed and played all the instruments on 6 of the 9 tracks. In contrast, at age 23 I was probably hanging upside down on a keg of beer! We all progress at our own pace. This album was Stevie’s transition from child to mature individual. Innervisions has a definitive message of social consciousness delivered in a convivial manner, compounded by his use of the Tonto/Moog synthesizer. This nuanced jubilation is best captured and evident in “Higher Ground.” A track also covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a group I’m not so fond of but Flea does the bass justice and the Woodstock performance is worth noting as you can see the energy this track can invoke. I’m a sucker for songs with a building cadence and there are a lot of them on this album, including “Golden Lady,” “All In Love is Fair,” and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”. I love how Wonder moves along so many different genres on this record: Soul, R&B, Rock and Latin (“Dont You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”…what a banger!). I’m not sure what the Grammys really mean these days, but Innervisions won “Album of the Year” in 1974. Deservedly so.
Stevie was involved in a horrific car accident days after releasing this album. It’s rumored that he awoke from a coma when a confidant sang “Higher Ground” to him. It served as a spiritual motivation for him and a stark reminder that life is truly short. Drink the wine. Stay up late. Dance. Keep learning, till you reach your highest ground. Your Kiki would approve!
Favorite Tracks: “Living for the City” “Golden Lady” “Higher Ground” “Don’t Worry ‘Bout a Thing” It’s a complete album.
Pressing: Original Pressing 1973. Tamla Motown. T 326L