Stevie Wonder Music of My Mind Review

Released 1972.  

BBC Review

Wonder’s adult debut brims with passion, excitement and exuberance.

Daryl Easlea 2012

Music of My Mind was Stevie Wonder’s first release after he gained complete artistic freedom from Motown Records’ "hit factory". Re-signing to the label after his contract lapsed on his 21st birthday, no committee would tell him which track to release as a single or what cover versions to include – this was now his domain alone.

Aside from trumpet, guitar and support from his wife at the time, Syreeta Wright, Wonder played every note on this, his 14th studio album. It also marks the first time he collaborated with synthesizer pioneers Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil.

Music of My Mind is a work that brims with passion, excitement and exuberance. Opener Love Having You Around signposts the new territory: a leisurely, synth-driven jam, its propulsive beat, jive talk and the line “Every day I want to fly my kite” render it childlike celebration of the freedom Wonder was now enjoying.

The album was described at the time by Sounds as representing the “coming of age of black soul music”, and it’s as much the sound of African-America in the early 70s as Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield. From Wonder’s visible afro on the cover to its reference to Melvin Van Peebles’ then-current landmark blaxploitation movie Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, it was the record that put to bed "Little" Stevie Wonder forever.

This being Wonder, however, all of his polemic is sweetened with breathtaking melodies. I Love Every Little Thing About You is one of his most beautiful songs. Happier Than the Morning Sun is great fun, and the second half of Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) shows Wonder’s indestructible way with a love ballad.

The closing track, Evil, was written at the height of the Vietnam War as response to Memorial Day. It ends proceedings on a downbeat, questioning note, and is indicative of just how far Wonder had travelled since My Cherie Amour.

Somewhat left in the shadow cast by his following two albums, Talking Book and Innervisions, Music of My Mind nevertheless remains a fascinating, influential listen.

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