Talking Book

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For an audio recording of a book, see Audiobook.
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, Malcolm Cecil
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 28, 1972. A signal recording of his "classic period", in this one he "hit his stride."[1] The album's first track, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts, then earned Wonder his first Grammy Award, for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The album's first single, "Superstition", also hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles charts.

Background[edit]

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 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.[2] His swinging clavinet and harmonica embellishments on "Big Brother", though, defy categorization.

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.

The cover depicts Wonder with cornrows, Indian jewelry and a velvet afghan.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars link
BBC Online (favorable) link
Billboard (favorable) link
Robert Christgau (A)[3]
Q 5/5 stars link
Rhapsody (favorable) link
Rolling Stone (favorable) 1973[4]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars 2004[5]
Virgin Encyclopedia 5/5 stars link
Yahoo! Music (favorable)[6]

Released after Wonder toured with the Rolling Stones in 1972, Talking Book became a major hit, peaking at #3 on the Pop Albums chart in February 1973,[7] and became the first album for Wonder to top the Top R&B Albums chart where it remained for three weeks.[8]

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).

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.

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

Track listing[edit]

All songs produced, arranged and written by Stevie Wonder except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. "You Are the Sunshine of My Life"   2:58
2. "Maybe Your Baby"   6:51
3. "You and I (We Can Conquer the World)"   4:38
4. "Tuesday Heartbreak"   3:02
5. "You've Got It Bad Girl" (Wonder, Yvonne Wright) 4:59
6. "Superstition"   4:26
7. "Big Brother"   3:34
8. "Blame It on the Sun" (Wonder, Syreeta Wright) 3:26
9. "Lookin' for Another Pure Love" (Wonder, Syreeta Wright) 4:43
10. "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" (Wonder, Yvonne Wright) 4:53
Total length:
43:26

Inscription[edit]

Original pressings[9] contain Braille lettering of Wonder's name and the album title, along with a message not transcribed until the 2000 pressing:[10]

Here is my music. It is all I have to tell you how I feel. Know that your love keeps my love strong.

—Stevie

Personnel[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (Wonder) – 2:58
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, Fender Rhodes, drums
    • Jim Gilstrap – first lead vocal, background vocal
    • Lani Groves – second lead vocal, background vocal
    • Gloria Barley – background vocal
    • Scott Edwards – electric bass
    • Daniel Ben Zebulon – congas
  2. "Maybe Your Baby" (Wonder) – 6:51
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, Hohner clavinet, drums, Moog bass
    • Ray Parker Jr. – electric guitar
  3. "You and I (We Can Conquer the World)" (Wonder) – 4:39
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, piano, T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer
  4. "Tuesday Heartbreak" (Wonder) – 3:02
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, Fender rhodes, Hohner clavinet, drums, Moog bass
    • David Sanborn – alto saxophone
    • Deniece Williams – background vocal
    • Shirley Brewer – background vocal
  5. "You've Got It Bad Girl" (Wonder, Yvonne Wright) – 4:56
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, Fender Rhodes, drums, Moog bass, T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer
    • Jim Gilstrap – background vocal
    • Lani Groves – background vocal
    • Daniel Ben Zebulon – congas

Side two[edit]

  1. "Superstition" (Wonder) – 4:26
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, Hohner clavinet, drums, Moog bass
    • Trevor Laurence – tenor saxophone
    • Steve Madaio – trumpet
  2. "Big Brother" (Wonder) – 3:34
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocals, Hohner clavinet, drums, harmonica, Moog bass
  3. "Blame It On the Sun" (Wonder, Syreeta Wright) – 3:26
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, piano, drums, Moog bass, T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer
    • Jim Gilstrap – background vocal
    • Lani Groves – background vocal
    • Uncredited – guitar
  4. "Lookin' for Another Pure Love" (Wonder, S. Wright) – 4:44
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, Fender Rhodes, drums, Moog bass
    • Debra Wilson – background vocal
    • Shirley Brewer – background vocal
    • Loris Harvin (Delores Harvin) – background vocal
    • Jeff Beck – electric guitar
    • Buzz Feiten (Howard "Buzz" Feiten) – electric guitar
  5. "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" (Wonder, Y. Wright) – 4:51
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, piano, Hohner clavinet, drums, Moog bass

Personnel[edit]

  • Malcolm Cecil - Programming, Engineer, Associate Producer
  • Robert Margouleff - Engineer, Associate Producer, Photography
  • Austin Godsey - Engineer, Recording
  • Joan Decola - Recording
  • George Marino - Mastering

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification
United Kingdom (BPI)[21] Gold

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Some observers count six classic albums, some count five, and others count four.
    Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2001). All music guide: the definitive guide to popular music (4 ed.). Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 447–448. ISBN 0-87930-627-0. "Stevie Wonder came into his own with Music of My Mind, but Talking Book is where he hit his stride..." 
    Cramer, Alfred William (2009). Musicians and composers of the 20th century 5. Salem Press. p. 1645. ISBN 1-58765-517-9. 
    Brown, Jeremy K. (2010). Stevie Wonder: Musician. Black Americans of Achievement. Infobase Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 1-60413-685-5. 
  2. ^ Chesterton, George (October 5, 2012). "In Praise of the Clavinet". New Statesman. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 1973). Robert Christgau: Album: Stevie Wonder: Talking Book. Creem. Robert Christgau. Archived from Robert Christgau: The Christgau Consumer Guide: March 1973. Retrieved on 2011-04-19.
  4. ^ Aletti, Vince (January 4, 1973). Talking Book by Stevie Wonder | Rolling Stone Music | Music Reviews. Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved on 2011-04-19.
  5. ^ Considine, J. D. (November 2, 2004). Stevie Wonder: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music. Rolling Stone. Fireside Books. Retrieved on 2011-04-19.
  6. ^ Quaintance, John. Stevie Wonder Reviews on Yahoo! Music. Yahoo! Music. Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 2011-04-19.
  7. ^ "1973 Albums - Month By Month". Super Seventies Rocksite!. Retrieved 2014-05-05. 
  8. ^ "Talking Book - Stevie Wonder". AllMusic. 1972-10-27. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  9. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Stevie-Wonder-Talking-Book/release/174477
  10. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Stevie-Wonder-Talking-Book/release/3566301
  11. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 19, No. 16" (PHP). RPM. 1973-06-02. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  12. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  13. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia - Gli album più venduti del 1973" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  14. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4871310779. 
  15. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Stevie Wonder - Talking Book" (ASP). Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  16. ^ "Stevie Wonder > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  17. ^ a b "Allmusic: Talking Book: Charts & Awards: Billboard Albums". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  18. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1973 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  19. ^ "Billboard.BIZ Top Pop Albums of 1973". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  20. ^ "Billboard.BIZ Top Pop Albums of 1974". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 2012-12-31. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  21. ^ "British album certifications – Stevie Wonder – Talking Book". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Talking Book in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go

External links[edit]