Talking Book

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Talking Book
Talking Book.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 28, 1972 (1972-10-28)
Stevie Wonder chronology
Music of My Mind
Talking Book
Singles from Talking Book
  1. "Superstition"
    Released: October 24, 1972
  2. "You Are the Sunshine of My Life"
    Released: March 1973

Talking Book is the fifteenth studio album by Stevie Wonder, released on October 28, 1972. He is said to have "hit his stride" in this signal recording of his "classic period".[2] 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. The album was certified Gold in Canada and the United States.


Sandwiched between the release of Music of My Mind and Innervisions, Talking Book saw Wonder enjoying more artistic freedom from Motown. Guest musicians appearing 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.[3] His clavinet embellishments on "Big Brother", though, evoke a six-string acoustic guitar, and his note-bending harmonica work touches on some folk and blues influences.

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 and 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.[citation needed]

The cover depicts Wonder with cornrows, wearing Indian jewelry and a velvet kaftan.[4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[5]
The Austin Chronicle4/5 stars[6]
Christgau's Record GuideA[7]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[9]
The Great Rock Discography9/10[9]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[10]
Q5/5 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[12]

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,[13] and became the first album by Wonder to top the Top R&B Albums chart, where it remained for three weeks.[14] 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).[citation needed] 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 associate producers[15] Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff won the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical award for their work on that album.[citation needed]

Reviewing for Rolling Stone in 1973, Vince Aletti called Talking Book "ambitious" and "richly-textured", writing that "even at its dreamiest, the music has a glowing vibrancy ... Altogether, an exceptional, exciting album, the work of a now quite matured genius".[16] It was voted number 322 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).[17] In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it 90th on the magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[9] maintaining the rating in a 2012 revised list.[18] According to Robert Christgau, the record found Wonder taking artistic control and breaking through, continuing his "wild multi-voice experiments" and writing better ballads without losing "his endearing natural bathos"; Christgau also highlighted "Superstition" as a translation of Wonder's "way of knowledge into hard-headed, hard-rocking political analysis".[7] J. D. Considine called the album "a pop tour de force".[12]

Track listing and personnel[edit]

Side one

  1. "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (Stevie 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" (Stevie Wonder) – 6:51
  3. "You and I (We Can Conquer the World)" (Stevie Wonder) – 4:39
  4. "Tuesday Heartbreak" (Stevie 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" (Stevie 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

  1. "Superstition" (Stevie Wonder) – 4:26
  2. "Big Brother" (Stevie Wonder) – 3:34
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocals, Hohner Clavinet, drums/percussion, harmonica, Moog bass
  3. "Blame It on the Sun" (Stevie Wonder, Syreeta Wright) – 3:26
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, piano, harpsichord, drums, Moog bass, T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer
    • Jim Gilstrap – background vocal
    • Lani Groves – background vocal
  4. "Lookin' for Another Pure Love" (Stevie Wonder, Syreeta 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)" (Stevie Wonder, Yvonne Wright) – 4:51
    • Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocal, piano, Hohner Clavinet, drums, Moog bass

Inscription Original pressings[19] contain Braille lettering of Wonder's name and the album title, along with a message not transcribed until the 2000 pressing:[20]

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

— Stevie

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Malcolm Cecil – programming, engineer, Associate producer
  • Robert Margouleff – engineer, Associate producer, photography
  • Austin Godsey – engineer, recording
  • Joan Decola – recording
  • George Marino – mastering



Region Certification
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] Gold

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Perone, James E. (2012). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. x. ISBN 978-0313379062. Wonder integrated soul, funk, rock, torch song, and jazz on his 1972 album Talking Book and his 1973 album Innervisions.
  2. ^ 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 978-1-58765-517-3.
    Brown, Jeremy K. (2010). Stevie Wonder: Musician. Black Americans of Achievement. Infobase Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-60413-685-2.
  3. ^ Chesterton, George (October 5, 2012). "In Praise of the Clavinet". New Statesman. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  4. ^ "#90: Stevie Wonder, "Talking Book" (1972)". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  5. ^ AllMusic review
  6. ^ Moser, Margaret (May 19, 2000). "Review: Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness' First Finale". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: W". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 9, 2019 – via
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 1973). "The Christgau Consumer Guide". Creem. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d "Talking Book". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  10. ^ Hilburn, Robert (April 1, 2000). "Motown Releases Remind Us of Stevie Wonder's Impact". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  11. ^ Q. London: 123. August 2000.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  12. ^ a b Considine, J. D. (2004). "Stevie Wonder". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 885–87. ISBN 0743201698. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  13. ^ "1973 Albums - Month By Month". Super Seventies Rocksite!. Retrieved 2014-05-05.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Talking Book - Stevie Wonder". AllMusic. 1972-10-27. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  15. ^[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Aletti, Vince (January 4, 1973). Talking Book by Stevie Wonder | Rolling Stone Music | Music Reviews. Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved on 2011-04-19.
  17. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2006). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 131. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  18. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  19. ^ "Stevie Wonder - Talking Book". Discogs. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  20. ^ "Stevie Wonder - Talking Book". Discogs. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 19, No. 16" (PHP). RPM. 1973-06-02. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  22. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). Archived from the original on 2013-05-07. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  23. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia - Gli album più venduti del 1973" (in Italian). Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  24. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4871310779.
  25. ^ " Stevie Wonder - Talking Book". Archived from the original (ASP) on 2014-05-07. Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  26. ^ "Stevie Wonder > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  27. ^ a b "Allmusic: Talking Book: Charts & Awards: Billboard Albums". Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  28. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1973 par InfoDisc" (in French). Archived from the original (PHP) on 2012-10-27. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  29. ^ "Billboard.BIZ Top Pop Albums of 1973". Archived from the original on 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  30. ^ "Billboard.BIZ Top Pop Albums of 1974". Archived from the original on 2012-12-31. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  31. ^ "British album certifications – Stevie Wonder – Talking Book". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Talking Book in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]