Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Morris On: Wonderous Stories

OK, long story but I haven't slept in almost 30 hours, I just got off 90 minutes on the phone with my friend who's probably gonna be in the Baseball Hall of Fame someday, my shoulder feels like someone is stabbing it with a lemon-juice-soaked needle, and I have to hurry up and nap soon so I can get up and work a lonnnnnng shift tonight. In other words, it's time to blog the stuffing outta Stevie Wonder's 65th birthday!
You know who Stevie is, I take it, so no need to explain too much. When you've been doing it since adolescence at the toppermost level, and adolescence for you was back in the early 1960s, you need no introductions to the general public at large. Nothing Little about this talent.
My friends are a couple: a duo of touring musicians who travel the Earth playing concerts in every conceivable kind of venue. Her early surprise for his birthday this June? Hijack his unsuspecting ass 1000 miles to see guess who? play the entire suite of Songs In the Key of Life live in concert. When they give you as that kind of gift, your status as a living monument is cemented and that's the total truth of today.
A more loved legend of our lifetimes I cannot name and further than that he always struck me, having never yet met him, as a sincere and unpretentious sort of fellow. Which can be rare sometimes for a statesman of his caliber. I think folks really relate in a very direct, basic way to his music as a source of endless Joy and redemption and positive perspective... and if that's people's sort of unconscious assessment or critique of you as a human being or their review of the job you do, that likely means you're doing it a kajillion kinds of correct.
So enough Captain Obvious Hour... what to share? I have a bit. Let's fire up this thing that just busted out a couple of months back in the trading circles... it's a half hour of pristine footage of Stevie and his band headlining the MIDEM conference -- an annual weeklong European record industry shindig that still takes place in and around Cannes, France -- in 1974 just on the heels of Stevie's horrific accident with the log truck. Look out for "She's a Maniac" Flashdance soundtracker Michael Sembello caressing an electric guitar in a very fleet-fingered fashion, as well as diva-in-waiting Deniece Williams, harmonizing as one of the main man's backup vocalists before she hit it big on her own later in the Seventies.
Stevie Wonder/Wonderlove
Gala du Midem
Palais de Festival
Cannes, France

01 Contusion
02 Higher Ground
03 Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing
04 All Is Fair In Love
05 Living for the City
06 You Are the Sunshine of My Life
07 Superstition

Total time: 25:51

Stevie Wonder - keyboards & vocals
Reggie McBride - bass
Michael Sembello - lead guitar
Marlo Henderson - rhythm guitar
Ollie E. Brown - drums
Shirley Brewer - vocals & percussion
Lani Groves - vocals & percussion
Deniece Williams - vocals & percussion

PAL DVD from what looks like a station pre-broadcast master; this may have been filmed for ORTF-TV and never aired
All right, I gotta crash for a while but do enjoy this 25 minutes of deep funk mayhem from the birthday boy at the peak of his powers. I'll return appropriately soon with more plangently poppin' pebbles for your proscenium, but please let's don't forget to sound a note of Wonderlove today for the insubstitutably awesome Stevland Hardaway Morris, better known as Stevie Wonder and born this day in 1950!--J.

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