Lined Seals are Delivered
Overall Album Score: 8.2 out of 10
The title of this album says it all.
This is an album cut by Stevie and made for MOTOWN. This album is very entertaining. The songs, for the most part, are catchy. The grooves are good in that awesome way grooves were back in the late-60s, early-70s. Even Stevie's vocals are as utterly vigorous and passionate as they can be. But there's very little SOULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. Since this is supposed to be soul(ish) music, the soul thing is kind of important!
Very entertaining, this little album is. But, that's as far as it goes. And I doubt I'll ever listen to it again.
Fortunately, Stevie was able to overcome Motown and renegotiate his contract. This is the last of the cookie-cutter (though tasty) Stevie Wonder Motown albums and, from now on, we're going to see actual albums. You know ... Stevie is actually going to start writing his songs and stuff. No more of this rock-for-rich-guys'-wallet baloney ... not that Stevie's real albums didn't make any money.
Ohhh... as you have undoubtedly gathered from this very cynical review, I don't really care for this album. (I did enjoy Wonder's previous two albums a bit more, because ... well ... it seems that Wonder enjoyed them more, even though the actual material isn't particularly stronger.) The Beatles cover was a total waste of ... everything. "I Gotta Have a Song" is ... uhhhh ... very amusing, actually, because it sounds very slopped-together (filler alert). I really enjoy the title track as well as "Joy (Takes Over Me)," which is just so AWESOMEEEEEEEEEEEELY UPLIFTING that I can't help myself. "Sugar" has a very nice groove. And ... uhhh ... all the other songs are very pleasant, but largely forgettable.
And now ... coming up next at your local neighborhood theater ... the REAL Stevie Wonder... Oooohohohohhhhhhhhhhooohohhh, I can't wait to start reviewing that.
Overall Album Score: 8.2 out of 10 (An entertaining album to be sure, but it's fairly evident that Stevie was getting fed up with Motown's crusty butt.)
Average Song Score: 8.7 (Good songs. Good groove. Good tunes, mostly. Ummm ... Good Stevie.)
Album Tilt: 8.0 (I'm sorry ... but ... this thing comes across a bit too strongly as a commercial product.)
Artist Rating: 8.0 (Stevie has the heart ... but these albums need more of it. It wasn't his fault. It was the fault of those freaking chubby guys with the good rings and the fat smoking cigars.)
Never Had a Dream Come True 9/10
Yeah right ... like I'll ever sympathize with Stevie Wonder for never having a dream come true ... being a rock star and all ... playing with Jimmy Hendrix once ... uhhhh ... yeah. Or maybe this guy dreams of working in a cubicle. I don't know. This is a decent, upbeat R&B tune for you enjoy ... if that's what you do.
We Can Work it Out 8/10
This is a not-really-good cover of that awesome Beatles ditty. Wonder's little vocalized yelps are more annoying than anything. And ... yeah. I guess he probably shouldn't cover The Beatles. Nobody should cover The Beatles. Especially Stevie Wonder's Motown-owned buttocks.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours 10/10
A very good R&B tune with lotsa horns, soulful female back-up singers, (not to mention a great vocal performance from Stevie), and a good tune! ... This is all you'll ever need ... baby.
Heaven Help Us All 8.5/10
Stevie goes gospel here. ... And ... Dangit. I never cared for gospel whatsoever (I have a hard enough enjoying R&B, you know.) So ... I'm identifying my bias! But this is an uplifting ditty nonetheless.
You Can't Judge a Book By its Cover 8.5/10
Oh, why not? I judge books by its cover all the time. For example, if a cover is soaking wet, then I can judge that the book is wet. Such insight would save you the pain of having to pick up the book and then deciding, quite suddenly, that you cannot really sit down and read it because it's wet. Likewise, if you notice that the cover is coated with whipped cream, you may be able to judge that the book is sitting on top of a marble cream pie. I'm glad that I could be of such help. (...Oh, dang. I forgot to talk about this actual song again. It's a rather mainline soul piece whose main saving grace is that smoooooooth GROOOOOOVE.)
Since Stevie Wonder was African American making albums in the early 70s, you've got to understand that this album dang well better have a grooooooove. And this is a great groove as far as they go. Not only that, but it's supported by a nice melody. ... This thing ain't phenomenal, but it's got a nice beat and you can dance to it (...I can't dance to it, however, since I'm not black, but ... theoretically I could dance to it.)
Don't Wonder Why 8/10
Okay, this isn't exactly the type of song that you can (theoretically) dance to, unless you get a kick of dancing to soaring, soulful, ballad type things. What I do enjoy about this song is principally the melody. I mean ... dudes ... all these songs are pretty shallow. But ... I do enjoy the melody.
Anything You Want Me To Do 9/10
Another well-constructed, Motown GROOVE. I can always enjoy the groove as long as it's WELL-CONSTRUCTED (but not Motown). Motown can eat its own Poop for all I care, as long as they save Stevie. Oh, he's going to renegotiate his contract with those buzzards pretty soon, and we'll start seeing some real music! ... But I guess that 9 up there indicates that I like this song. I do. Nice groove.
I Can't Let My Heaven Walk Away 8/10
Man ... you've just got to admire that Stevie Wonder. This song really isn't that good! The groove is so-so, the melody isn't very catchy, and the whole thing is just done fairly sloppily ... but just look at how enthusiastically Stevie sings this one! THE SONG SUCKS, BUT I HAVE TO LIKE IT JUST BECAUSE I LIKE HEARING HIM SING IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ... Oh man ..................... too good for Motown.
Joy (Takes Over Me) 10/10
An even better vocal performance and an even better song! JOYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!! This is a wonderfully upbeat song with an absolutely smashing TUNE and ... the song title says it all!!! My only complaint that it's too short. Two minutes and 14 seconds??? FREAKING BUTRNOEIHR! I'm playing it over again...
I Gotta Have a Song 7/10
This song is similarly upbeat, except this time, I don't feel much SOUL in it. I don't even think Wonder's performance is even that great. ... I spell filler. A better idea for filler was just to extend "Joy" for another two minutes!
Something to Say 9/10
A pretty good album closer, I say. It's nice enough. The groove is well-established. The melody is nice'n'pleasant. The mood is happy. And ... Yeah. I'm going to give it a 9 and get onto other things (...like homework ... maybe...)
Don't worry. Be hippie. ... I mean happy. And send over your thoughts about this album here!