Last night, I re-listened to Mark Ronson’s latest album Uptown Special and the Stevie Wonder-assisted cuts “Uptown’s First Finale” and “Crack in the Pearl Pt. II” reminded me of why I loved a lot of his earlier works. Don’t get me wrong, Stevie is still one of the baddest EVER but there’s something about that yesteryear era that can’t be ignored. Hotter Than July , another album that I’m proud to say that I own on vinyl, was released in September of 1980 and was influenced by Stevie’s meeting and subsequent performance with the legendary reggae artist Bob Marley (You can hear the inspiration come to form on “Master Blaster (Jammin’)). Sufficed to say that though it never gained the notoriety of Innervisions and Songs In The Key of Life (Not my favorite Stevie album if we’re being real about it) but it still made an impact. Tracks like “Rocket Love“, “Lately“, and “All I Do” are personal standouts but there was ONE track on the album that I loathe and as much as it kind of shames me to say, considering it’s cultural and social importance, is the MLK dedication “Happy Birthday“. Stevie used “Happy Birthday” in his campaign to turn King’s birthday into a national holiday which is respectable but then EVERYBODY around the way started to sing this song and call up radio stations to play it for everybody else’s birthday and I gradually grew sick of it and I’m playing right now to see if my opinion will change and NO! Still hate it…. Sorry Stevie.
RARE!! Stevie Wonder’s BBC’s Hotter Than July Documentary