Stevie Wonder’s first foray into the world of soundtracks was for the film, The Secret Life of Plants. The film disappeared so fast that many fans assumed the release was a studio album. The music was different from his normal fare but remains extremely interesting.
His second soundtrack was for the film, The Woman In Red and it proved to be a more traditional affair. The movie starred Gene Wilder, Kelly LeBrock, and Gilder Radner, and enjoyed some commercial success. Wonder wrote the music and produced the resulting album. There was some other music in the film but only his material made it onto the official soundtrack.
The album may not have been his finest hour, but when it was good, it was very good, as two of the songs rank among his best.
“I Just Called To Say I Love You” won an Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Original Song. An edited version was released as a single and became the biggest solo hit of his career. It featured one of his smoothest vocals. The six-minute album version is more interesting than its shorter counterpart as it keeps the instrumental connectors intact.
The other well-known track also became a hit single in an edited form. “Love Light In Flight” clocked in at just shy of seven minutes as an album track. There is a classic melody that helps the song to soar, plus his use of a digital percussion machine was extremely creative at the time.
“Don’t Drive Drunk” was an odd tempo song with an important message. It was another six-minute-plus track that contained some good ideas but it was the quirky chorus that made the song a difficult listen.
All was not completely well with the album. The title song really never takes off and while the instrumental, “It’s More Than You,” may have had its place in the movie, on an album it is just filler.
He was not alone on the album as Dionne Warwick was a guest vocalist on three of the tracks, two duets and one solo. While some may remember her as the spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network, during the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, she was one of the most commercially successful solo female artists in music history. This album catches her when her voice was still a formidable instrument. If Stevie Wonder had to have a female guest vocalist, she was a good choice at the time.
The best of her three appearances was the duet, “It’s You,” as they fit together perfectly. Her solo outing, “Moments Aren’t Moments,” is only a cut below. “Weakness” was appropriately named as it was the weakest of her three tracks.
All in all, The Women In Red is an average Stevie Wonder release. While it’s nice to hear the two singles at their original length, it’s not an album that is an essential Stevie Wonder listening experience, as he has released so many better albums down through the years that should be required listens for any music fan.