In a career spanning four decades Steveland Judkins Morris has been many things: child star, funk hero, political chronicler, the saviour of Motown Records and depressingly, the instigator of the painfully schmaltzy R&B ballad. Thankfully, this exhaustive "Best Of…", timed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his first appearance as Little Stevie Wonder, focuses mainly on the 1966-1980 glory years and his transition from incendiary soul man to voice of the 70s.
When Stevie Wonder applied his tremendous songwriting talents to the unsettled social morass that was the early '70s, he produced one of his greatest, most important works, a rich panoply of songs addressing drugs, spirituality, political ethics, the unnecessary perils of urban life, and what looked to be the failure of the '60s dream – all set within a collection of charts as funky and catchy as any he'd written before…
In Square Circle is a 1985 studio album released by American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder (his twentieth overall). The album features the hits "Part-Time Lover", "Go Home" and "Overjoyed" (which was left off Wonder's 1979 album Journey through the Secret Life of Plants and re-recorded for this album). The album won Wonder the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 28th Grammy Awards (his fourth award in the category, and his 13th Grammy overall). In Square Circle broke into the Top 5 on the Pop Albums chart and spent 12 weeks at #1 on the Top R&B Albums chart.
Aside from his tremendous powers of performance, Stevie Wonder stands as one of the greatest songwriters of the late 20th century, probing the joyous peaks and depressing valleys of love and relationships. The Motown tribute album Conception: An Interpretation of Stevie Wonder's Songs has its highs and lows as well; with Stevie himself in the producer's chair (along with new-era Motown exec Kedar Massenburg), the album certainly has a lot of promise. It boasts plenty of neo-soul balladeers – India.Arie, Mary J. Blige, Brian McKnight, Joe, Musiq – as well as mainstream stars like Eric Clapton and John Mellencamp, who took musical cues from classic Stevie Wonder LPs like Talking Book or Songs in the Key of Life.