Personnel: Stevie Wonder (vocals, harmonica, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards, Moog synthesizer, drums); Stevie Wonder; Jim Gilstrap, Lani Groves, Tasha Thomas (vocals, background vocals); Ralph Hammer (guitar, acoustic guitar); Ralph Hammer (acoustic guitar); Dan Barbiero, Austin Godsey (recorder); Clarence Bell (organ); Robert Margouleff (ARP synthesizer, Moog synthesizer, programming); Sheila Wilkerson (bongos, percussion); Larry Latimer (vocals, congas, percussion); Dean Parks (guitar, acoustic guitar); David T. Walker (guitar, electric guitar); Yusuf Roahman (percussion); Malcolm Cecil, Willie Weeks, Scott Edwards.
Audio Remasterer: Kevin Reeves.
Recording information: Media Sound Studios, New York, NY; Media Sound, Inc, NY; Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Record Plant, Los Angeles And M.
Illustrator: Efram Wolff.
Arranger: Stevie Wonder.
After breaking away from the Motown singles mode, Wonder began creating albums that were visionary in concept, sound, and construction. The greatest of these is 1973's INNERVISIONS (1976's SONG IN THE KEY OF LIFE was also an indisputable masterpiece, yet it lacks the economy and focus of INNERVISIONS). Moving largely away from romantic themes (the beautiful "Golden Lady" is the exception), Wonder tackles the socio-cultural landscape of 1970s America, including drugs, urban life, and crooked politicians, in addition to questions of identity, faith, and idealism.
The album is also more musically ambitious than anything Wonder had attempted before. "Too High," the album's opener, has a buoyant, jazzy feel with a subtly complex interaction between instruments and vocals. "Livin' for the City" is a story-song with a stomping beat, gospel flavor, and a dramatic interlude and outro. The churning "Higher Ground" segues into the fierce, slinky groove of "Jesus Children of America" (complete with burbling Arp and Moog synthesizers). The intensity of these songs is not mitigated by the slower songs, which are equally stirring, but by the exuberant, Latin-esque "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing," one of the album's highlights. From beginning to end, INNERVISIONS is a work of genius--a powerful, complex, yet accessible pop masterpiece.
Rolling Stone (12/11/03, p.104) - Ranked #23 in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time" - "...He reads the national landscape, particularly regarding black America, with penetrating insight on INNERVISIONS..."
Q (p.120) - "[I]t's ultimately a vision of hope, exemplified by the surging funk of 'Higher Ground' and reflective 'Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing'."
Q (5/00, p.135) - Included in Q Magazine's "Best Soul Albums Of All Time"
Q (10/99, p.161) - Included in Q Magazine's Best Motown Records Of All Time - "...Wonder himself said that INNERVISIONS is the best and who would argue? A funky, jazzy canvas rich with clavinets and Fender Rhoades that encompasses the feelgood...and the edgy...as well as a clutch of classic singles..."
Vibe (12/99, p.158) - Included in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century
Mojo (Publisher) (7/00, p.129) - "...Won a Grammy for Album Of The Year and remains high in every discerning list of all-time classic LPs...[A] pretty essential acquisition."
NME (Magazine) (10/2/93, p.29) - Ranked #32 on NME's list of the "Greatest Albums Of All Time."
NME (Magazine) (9/18/93, p.19) - Ranked #15 among The Greatest Albums Of The '70s.