Host Daryl Easlea kicks off the episode with a bit of background on Stevie, saying, “Although Stevie Wonder’s maturity had begun on Where I’m Coming From and Music Of My Mind, Talking Book is seen as the first truly great Stevie Wonder album. And good heavens, there had been quite a few of them already by this point (14). A global superstar by his mid-teens, Wonder was a product of the Motown star system, but like his friend and peer Marvin Gaye, he no longer wanted to be controlled by the star factory system demanded by Motown founder Berry Gordy.”
Easlea continues to discuss how on his 21st birthday, Wonder allowed his Motown contract to expire. He says, “He went to Electric Lady Studios and recorded around 50 tracks, which formed the basis of his output for the next few years, and signed a new contract with Motown, offering a higher royalty rate and artistic freedom.
“Gordy, aware of the changing times, and entirely aware of Wonder’s ability, did not want to lose a true superstar in the making. Music Of My Mind from March of 1972 truly showed this new direction: filler, B-sides, and cover versions were out, and instead of using session musicians, Wonder played almost every instrument himself.”
Talking Book arrived only seven months later in October of 1972, and, a week before it was released, Stevie dropped lead single “Superstition,” “a prime slice of Stevie funk that showed he could be on the good foot just as much as James Brown or Sly Stone.”
Easlea adds, “Wonder played as support act to the Rolling Stones at this time, showing that he was ready for playing stadium shows to rock audiences. If Music Of My Mind was the trailer, Talking Book was the main feature.”