When I first read about this album in the Rolling Stones Best Albums of All Time, I was skeptical. Stevie Wonder for me, then, was just ‘Sir Duke’ and ‘I Just Called to Say I Love You’. I didn’t know the depth with which Wonder crafts albums. Innervisions is a wonderful insight into the views of one of the original musical iconoclasts.
Wonder, who was previously more than content to allow his lyrics—both bitter and sweet—to apply to simple love scenarios, had discovered a desire to tap into a larger reserve of collective emotion: in this case, the disenfranchised rage of America’s Nixon era. Slant Magazine
The first half of the album has been described as ‘high stakes’ quite rightly. There is a perceptible rage and agony. One jumps between anger (Living in the City) to love, loss and resurrection of hope (Golden Lady). Wonder is starkly honest about his own remonstrances and conveys them with startling musical integrity.
The second half is more reassuring, staying with the theme of love but in a more hopeful tone. The embedded video below is an example of the spirited response to the first half of the album. Innervisions ends with the exceptional ‘Mr Know It All’ which is impossible not to dance to. It trails off at the end, allowing us to wallow in the enormity of what we have just heard.
“Living For The City” is the album’s centerpiece, and remains one of the only moments in Wonder’s career as a politically-minded pop star where he allows himself to come face to face with utter pessimism and caves in to it wholesale. Slant Magazine
Overall, this album has nothing but highlights for me. Not only is it vocally astounding, it is honest and boasts one of the best efforts at sequencing I’ve ever seen. Sequencing is the order in which songs are placed in an album and Stevie Wonder has done a phenomenal job here. One could dedicate many thousands of words to the magnitude of excellence contained in Innvervisions, but I’ll stop short at 300. Have a listen for yourself and enjoy it’s brilliance.