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Stevie Wonder: Number 1's

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Stevie Wonder: Number 1's

Stevie Wonder: Number 1's

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The Bottom Line

Some artists' legacies (not to mention the sheer magnitude of their chart dominance) are just too large to fit on one CD, and this single-disc comp barely skims his Motown years while replicating Seventies comps that work much better. His late-Eighties work --when he'd fallen off the pop charts but was still a vital and even influential presence on the R&b charts -- goes largely unexplored, as well.
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Pros

  • If you know next to nothing about Stevie Wonder, this might serve as an intro.

Cons

  • This is far from a complete overview of his Sixties or Eighties eras.
  • Two of his Number One hits are missing, judging by the standards of this collection.
  • At least two of his earlier "greatest hits" collections do a better job than this one.

Description

  • Release date: August 21, 2007
  • Motown 7483237
  • Compilation
  • Studio (1963-2005)
  • Single disc

Guide Review - Stevie Wonder: Number 1's

Like many artists in Motown's storied Sixties stable, Stevie Wonder found himself stymied by the very assembly-line mentality that had groomed him as a songwriter, performer, and vocalist. By the time he turned 21 in 1971, Stevie was no longer the jazz harmonica prodigy America adopted -- he was a full-grown artist, chomping at the bit to mature, like Marvin and Diana. The difference was, Stevie was also literally grown, and therefore just getting started. Had he not released his groundbreaking series of solo albums in the early Seventies, he might well be remembered today on the level of a Gladys Knight or a David Ruffin. Extraordinarily talented, that is, but no innovator. As it was, he practically invented modern R&B (at least the brand that existed before hip-hop crashed the party).

And you get plenty of that Stevie on the grammatically suspect Number 1's, but there's precious little of the Sixties wunderkind or the Eighties icon. Simply put, "Number Ones" packages -- an idea already yellowing badly around the edges -- only work if, like Elvis and the Beatles, you score enough of them to form a connect-the-dots with your career. But Stevie's had a truckload of hits you know and love that merely languished in the slightly-less rarefied air of the Top 5. Could anyone hear "I Was Made To Love Her" and not also yearn for "For Once In My Life," or the "mature" Stevie already becoming apparent in adolescent hits like "My Cherie Amour" or "If You Really Love Me"?

If you really love Stevie, or just love what you've heard, do yourself a favor: skip this entirely and grab 2002's Definitive Collection, which does a lot more with one disc, or, better yet, grab his unrivaled Musiquarium comp of '70s classics and then lobby Motown to release a CD copy of 1977's Looking Back, the only album to collect his childhood smashes all in one place.

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