I was going to end my series of Stevie Wonder reviews with his last studio album to date, A Time To Love. However, since I own #1’s and it was staring at me forlornly as the last Stevie Wonder album in the box, I decided to include it and finish the series at an even 20 releases.
#1’s was a part of a Motown/Universal series of releases by some of the label’s leading artists. I also own The Temptations disc, and all are released under the title #1’s. They all come in what is proudly proclaimed eco-friendly packaging, which in this case means cheap. Of course if I ever want to throw the CD away, it will have a minimal impact upon the environment.
The title refers to songs that topped Billboard’s Pop, Rhythm & Blues, and Adult Contemporary Charts. As such, the twenty tracks are not necessarily the best of his career, although a number would fall into that category. The material is limited by the theme, and to meet the requirements, the songs had to be released as singles. That left out a lot of superior album tracks. It adds up to a nice overview of his career from a singles perspective.
The tracks are taken from all periods of his career. Naturally the most memorable songs derive from the 1970s. The six song run of “Superstition,” “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,” “Higher Ground,” “Living For The City,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” and “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” are about 25 minutes of the finest music you can find in one place.
The early material sounds a bit primitive compared to what was to follow and it is very apparent on an album of this nature. On the other hand, “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” “I Was Made To Love Her,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” are all uptempo, raucous delights.
The album tends to slow down a bit during the second half but that is mainly due to the placement of the songs, as some just do not fit together well.
#1’s is a flawed yet very good album. While there are better Stevie Wonder compilation albums, this one is a nice introduction to his music. If you decide to upgrade in the future at least you can discard it with a clear conscience.