Acclaimed Albums – Songs In The Key of Life by Stevie Wonder

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 198/250Title: Songs In The Key of Life
Artist: Stevie Wonder
Year: 1976
Position: #43

I thought that listening to ‘Sir Duke’ as part of the 1001 songs list would have done a better job at jolting me into ticking off this album earlier. Well, two months have passed since that post and I have only just gotten around to doing so. There’s no real excuse for this other than my continued on-loading of podcasts into the weekly rotation, but I’ve gotten there now and that’s what counts.

Songs In The Key of Life is the third and final Stevie Wonder album on this Top 250. It is also the longest, latest and the highest placed of the three. Now that I have heard it, I can see why this might be the most acclaimed of the three. Whilst it is a bit long, there is no denying the scope of this album. It really is his treatise on soul and funk music with a number of instantly recognisable tracks – to the point where every few songs I was exclaiming to myself, ‘wow, that’s on here too?’.

This is the album that gave us ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ (which, thanks to the longer album version, I only just learned was a sweet track about his new daughter), ‘Sir Duke’, ‘As’ (which I know better as the George Michael and Mary J. Blige version) and ‘Pastime Paradise’. That final in the list probably had the biggest impact on me, because the moment those iconic strings started (that were sampled in Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’) I rather loudly went “no way” in the middle of the office. Luckily, they’re used to me being a bit eccentric so I think it went unnoticed.

Outside of the famous tracks, the hit-to-miss ratio is impressive – however there are some tracks that could be edited out (one example being ‘Black Man’, mainly because of how he references Chinese people as ‘yellow’ and Native Americans as ‘red). In some ways, with this being so long, Songs In The Key of Life is a bit of a grab-bag where for the most part you get something delicious, but every now and then you get an apple instead of some candy. Apples are fine, but they’re no gummy sweets.

I’m so glad that I finally got around to listening to this album and I’m hoping (now that the busy period at work is over) I’m going to be able to get more of these albums down so I can hit the target I set back when I listened to Court and Spark to finish this list off by the time I conclude writing posts for July 2020.

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