As several of you know I do love Motown and a few years back Audio Fidelity issued this speciality Gold cd of the classic Talking Book album by Stevie Wonder plus a few others.
To recap a number of his albums were first issues in the halycon days of cd by Motown under BMG in Europe, then reissued in 1992 by Polygram and finally remastered in 2000 thru Universal.
Unfortunately most of these year 2000 titles are shrill, bright and very loud sounding you could tell even with the stores stereo system playing them but the 'classic' 1972-1976 albums in the 1992 series really could be better so I'm replacing them with these specialty gold remasters done by Kevin Gray using more modern devices to convert the sounds from the analogue tapes to digital.
Talking Book is the the home to "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" hit 45.
1972's Music Of My Mind was the disc that bought Stevie's use of the Arp synthesizer to our attention way back then featuring the hit single Superwoman.
My 1992 version sounds poor.
1973's Innervisions is in my opinion one soul album you just got to own featuring "Living For The City", "Higher Ground" and "He's Misstra Know-It-All" covering such topics as false religion, racial discrimination and mans relationship with his spiritual side.
Let it not be said Stevie took the white mans dollar and failed to address issues affecting African-Americans cos on this as with several albums he does bemoaning the failure of the political system on "You Haven't Done Nothin'" and "It Ain't No Use". All Stevie did was avoid the excesses of political sloganizing that ultimately dates his contemporaries lyrics
I feel this is the most improved disc of the set.
In 1976 he issued a double lp plus 4 track 7" EP entitled Songs In The Key of Life" where talks about everything he feels is important in the lyrics. This album included the smash hit tribute to jazz performer Duke Ellington, Sir Duke, I Wish and As although isn't She Lovely was a "radio hit" and a hit when recorded by England's David Parton in the UK and Europe
The original cd split the bonus tracks across the two cds but in 2000 the reissue that otherwise was very poor not helped by playing a Dolby A tape without it sounding very bright and compressed at least put the EP tracks at the end of disc 2.
For this 2011 Audio Fidelity release they kept to that disc running order with much improved sound.
Here's my brief series comments:
Having done a comparison with my older cd I'd say the major improvements are in the timbre of percussion smoother with more snap revealing greater fine detail and vocals.
Innervision is probably the next best thing to the rare and very expensive Mobile Fidelity cd issue from the early 90's that accidentally did use the master tape.
To summarize it builds on the original adding more subtitles within the limits of having to use a copy tape because Stevie does not give any record company any master tapes including Motown and for that reason is to be preferred although I am sure with the actual masters the results would be more noticeable.
I also picked up the 1985 mastered Love Songs 20 Classic Hits cd on Motown which offers a selection of his 60's output in much better sound than the 1998 Greatest Hits and Greatest Hits Vol:2 re-issues although it misses out Fingertips Pt2, Work Out Stevie Work Out and Travellin' Man