Signed, Sealed & Delivered

Stevie Wonder

Tamla, 1970

http://www.steviewonder.net

REVIEW BY: David Bowling

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/26/2012

Stevie Wonder was no longer a teenager when Signed, Sealed & Delivered was released on August 7, 1970. It was a commercial success, producing four Top 30 hit singles.

While he still filled out the album with a number of cover songs, Wonder had more control over the recording process by this time and was able to personally choose songs that would fit his style rather than being saddled with seemingly random choices by his label. He was also becoming an adept songwriter, and here he co-wrote seven of the 12 tracks.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

While the album had some ups and downs, the A-side of the original vinyl release was brilliant and was the equal of anything he would ever release. All four of the hit singles appear in a row. “Never Had A Dream Come True” was a smooth and soulful ballad with prominent keyboards and strings in support. “We Can Work It Out” is one of the more creative Beatles covers you will ever hear, as he changed the phrasing and turned the song into a soul classic. “Heaven Help Us All” was composed by Ron Miller, who was also responsible for such Stevie Wonder hits as “For Once In My Life,” “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday,” and “A Place In The Sun.” Wonder takes the song in a gospel direction as he interpreted the socially conscious lyrics that advocated change.

No matter how good the other three singles might have been, the title song was the highlight of the album. It was the first single release produced solely by Wonder. It garnered him his first Grammy nomination as well. He used horns and guitars to accentuate his vocal and then filled in the gaps with female backing singers.

His other five original compositions run the gamut from average to very good. All found him exploring different styles and sounds that would become finalized during what is considered his 1970s classic period. His use of keyboards moves in new and sometimes experimental directions, and while not always successful, they showed his maturation process was proceeding. The best of the lot was “Anything You Want Me To Do,” which had a memorable melody. On the other hand, songs such as “Something To Say,” “I Gotta Have A Song,” and “Sugar” have an unfinished feel, which would not happen on future albums.

Signed, Sealed & Delivered completed the second stage of Stevie Wonder’s career. He had learned his lessons well and was ready to move on and create some of the most creative and influential albums in American music history.

Rating: B+

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© 2012 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tamla, and is used for informational purposes only.