ARTIST: Stevie Wonder
TITLE: Where I’m Coming From
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
CHART ACTION: #62, #7 R&B
SINGLES: If You Really Love Me (#8 US, #4 R&B, #20 UK), Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer (#78 US)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really
LINEUP: Stevie Wonder, James Jamerson, Syretta Wright, other Motown people
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The first album where Stevie Wonder broke free of the Motown machine is tentative, but does have some tracks where his future direction is shown.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thanks to a brilliant contract negotiation, Stevie Wonder was able to break free of Motown’s artistic control, and allowed Wonder to produce himself, and record an album that he wanted to, without any interference.
(This is why this is the first non-compilation by Wonder I’m reviewing – standard Motown hit+filler infected the previous ones.)
This album doesn’t sound like a typical Motown album of the time, even if the Funk Brothers played on it. The arrangements are varied, and the songs take more chances at times. Sometimes, it works (“Do Yourself a Favor forshadows his funk excursions) and “If You Really Love Me” has an intriguing arrangement for a ballad. Sometimes, like “I Wanna Talk to You”, don’t work but at least it was an attempt to be socially conscious. Other ballads just seem perfunctory, but they were his, at least.
This is a teaser for the great Wonder albums of the 70’s.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: His then-wife, Syreeta Wright, co-wrote each song with Wonder. This is also the first album where Wonder wrote everything.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE B: A great effort at independence, though sometimes he still sounds shackled a bit. “Do Yourself a Favor” is fantastic though.