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Talking Book
Studio album by Stevie Wonder
Released October 28, 1972
Recorded 1972
Genre Soul, funk
Length 43:31
Label Tamla
Producer Stevie Wonder, Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil
Professional reviews
Stevie Wonder chronology
Music of My Mind
(1972)
Talking Book
(1972)
Innervisions
(1973)

Talking Book is the fifteenth album by Stevie Wonder, released on October 27, 1972. It was the second of five consecutive albums referred to as his "classic period", along with Music of My Mind, Innervisions, Fulfillingness' First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life.

Contents

Background

Released after Wonder toured with the Rolling Stones in 1972, Talking Book became an immediate hit. The popular appeal of the recording helped destroy the myth that R&B artists were incapable of creating music that could be appreciated by rock audiences, and marked a unique period for R&B artists (especially Motown artists). The cover depicts Wonder with corn rows, Indian jewelry and a velvet afghan.

Sandwiched between the release of Music of My Mind and Innervisions, Talking Book saw Wonder enjoying more artistic freedom from Motown. Guest appearances include Jeff Beck, Ray Parker, Jr., David Sanborn, and Buzzy Feton (Howard "Buzz" Feiten). The sound of the album is sharply defined by Wonder's keyboard work, especially with the synthesizers he incorporated, giving a funky edge to tracks like "Maybe Your Baby". His use of the Hohner clavinet model C on "Superstition" is widely regarded as one of the definitive tracks featuring the instrument. His swinging clavinet and harmonica embellishments on "Big Brother", though, defy categorization.

Wonder won three awards for Talking Book at the 1974 Grammys: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", and both Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for "Superstition". Incidentally, at the same ceremony, Wonder's next album, Innervisions, won Album of the Year and Talking Book's producers Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff won the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical award for their work on that album. Cecil and Margouleff produced four of Wonder's "classic" albums in all: Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions and Fulfillingness' First Finale, as well as several albums by the Isley Brothers and others. They employed an unusual production technique using multiple layers of instruments such as the clavinet, Fender Rhodes electric pianos, and Arp & Moog synthesizers in place of the string orchestras used in conventional production techniques. This combination is what gives Talking Book and these other three albums their distinctive sound.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 90 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Track listing

All songs produced and arranged by Stevie Wonder

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Side one

  1. "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (Wonder) - 2:58
  2. "Maybe Your Baby" (Wonder) - 6:51
  3. "You and I (We Can Conquer the World)" (Wonder) - 4:39
  4. "Tuesday Heartbreak" (Wonder) - 3:02
  5. "You've Got It Bad Girl" (Wonder, Yvonne Wright) - 4:56

Side two

  1. "Superstition" (Wonder) - 4:26
  2. "Big Brother" (Wonder) - 3:34
  3. "Blame It on the Sun" (Wonder, Syreeta Wright) - 3:26
  4. "Lookin' for Another Pure Love" (Wonder, S. Wright) - 4:44
  5. "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" (Wonder, Y. Wright) - 4:51

Personnel

(Where name appears twice, the first is the name of the artist as credited on the original album).

  • Austin Godsey - Engineer, Recording
  • Joan Decola - Recording
  • George Marino - Mastering

Produced by Stevie Wonder.

Further reading

Stevie Wonder interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' March 1995


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