Friday, April 21, 2017

70s Motown: Living for the City

purchase [Innervisions]

When I first saw him live, he was billed as Little Stevie Wonder. I'm pretty sure he played the harmonica. And I probably had one of his albums and a few 45s at that point in time. That would have been late 60s. I recall being affected by My Cherie Amour - on AM radio - a decent piece filled with emotion over the medium that was "par for the course" back then.

Recently, there was an obituary in the NYT for Sylvia Moy. Moy was working as a songwriter for Motown at about the time when Motown sensed that  there was a serious limitations to the "Little" Stevie Wonder process. She asked to take on the project. One of the results of the collaboration was My Cherie Amour.

Talking Book, then Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life spread out over the 70 along with a couple of other albums that don't quite make the grade for me - these are classic Wonder. Around 1972/3, there is a major style switch - away from the slightly tinny 60s soul style to a much richer production primarily fueled by a new keyboard style. And at about this time, Wonder takes more control of his music (switching labels, new contracts ..) and the quality of his work leaps forward.
We have here what is not really a cover - except that it is: Ray Charles works together with Stevie Wonder in this version of Living for the City.

Ray Charles was not a "Motown artist"- he had signed with Atlantic (back once again indirectly  to Turkey & Ahmet Ertegun). But Atlantic was poaching Motown at this point in time: Aretha, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding .. they were all Atlantic artists. And ... collaboration often makes things better.

blog comments powered by Disqus