It's no Wonder Stevie is one of the most famous men in the history of pop music. His virtuosic piano skilled coupled with his absolutely stellar songwriting abilities is a killer duo. As if that wasn't enough, his soaring, powerful voice is one of the most recognizable in soul. He simply has so much talent, it's almost a given that he's reached the status he has. The 1970s is usually referred to as his golden period, due to releasing a string of strong efforts, including Innvervisions
, Songs In The Key Of LIfe
, And Fulfillingness' First Finale
Fulfillingness' First Finale
is one of Stevie's more overlooked records, overshadowed by the gargantuan legacy left by the aforementioned records. Wedged in between the two, it's often forgotten, but by no means unmemorable. It is decidedly more subdued than most of his records; at a lean ten tracks, it lacks the lengthy compositions present on Innervisions
. Lyrically, he's less political for the most part and more focused on himself, therefore making it a more personal record than previous efforts. Perhaps it was the near-fatal car accident he got himself into in 1973 that made his music more cautious. Despite this, still contains the trademark mix of catchy funk, downtempo soul and quiet ballads.
"Too Shy To Say" lacks the trademark upbeat funk of an atypical Stevie Wonder song, stripping down to an unmemorable piano ballad. The true fault is its generic lyrics, making it fall into the category of saccharine-sweet commonplace love song, with groanworthy lines such as I wanna be more than a friend/Until the end of an endless end." Luckily things definitely pick up with "Boogie On Reggae Woman," featuring a highly infectious pulsating synthesizer line and bluesy piano. Stevie's vocals and top-notch, sprinkled with awesome high notes and runs. As well, Stevie's squealing harmonica solos sounds as good as ever. The song is simply a powerhouse, boasting almost all of Stevie's trademark qualities.
Songs like "Creepin" and "They Won't Go When I Go" are surprisingly sparse--for Stevie Wonder, that is. "Creepin" features Stevie wishing he creeps into a girl's dreams, bolstered by a groovy soul melody. "They Won't Go When I Go" is even more austere, a somewhat off-putting side of Stevie. When we think of him, we generally think of the buoyant eclecticism of songs like "Living For The City," "Superstition" and "I Wish," but it's never a bad thing for artists to change their sound. However, it's overlong and unsatisfactorily morose.
One of the more upbeat songs, and the only politically charged song on the album is "You Haven't Done Nothin'," a hostile diatribe against Richard Nixon. Its thick clarinet and fierce vocal performance make it a highlight of the album, proving Stevie catchy as ever. Even more gratifying is the cheerful Moog-heavy closer, "Please Don't Go." It's sparkling synth line is highlighted by the hi-hat heavy energetic drum track. Once again Stevie Wonder's harmonica solo is an excellent addition, an instrument rarely used in this style of music yet fitting right in. It's a perfect closer, wistful and lively, briskly moving on and fading before you know it.
The unstoppable force of Stevie Wonder in the 1970s released a number of stellar works and Fulfillingness' First Finale
is no different. The broad mix and emotive songwriting signify that Stevie Wonder's creativeness is in full swing, with no signs of stopping in the near future. The album is usually forgotten as a mere stepping stone between two behemoth albums, yet it's much more than that and deserves its place as an excellent effort from an innovative genius.