A quick recap. Stevie Wonder released the full length new album Conversation Piece in 1995, followed it with the live capture of debatably his greatest tour Natural Wonder (I caught it at Radio City and was blown away) and ten years later, in 2005, gave us the iffy A Time To Love and then nothing except less singles than you can count on one hand, till today. In the past fifteen years he has dropped four songs total, the highlight being the Ariana Grande duet on “Faith” in 2016. Today he dropped two new songs.
But “Can’t Put It In The Hands Of Fate” and “Where Is Our Love Song” is more than Stevie picking up a paycheck – the Grande meet was for Universal’s animated “Sing,” it is his break with Motown for the first time since 1961, with both songs released on his own label So What the Fuss Music and distributed by Republic Records via Universal. Stevie is 70 years old and after a recent kidney operation has had a second lease on life. That lease shows up now with two fine Wonder tracks.
“Can’t Put It In The Hands Of Fate” and “Where Is Our Love Song” both take off from the same organ lick, it is addictive and simple, and it carries “Can’t Put It In The Hands Of Hate” and makes a wry self aware presence on “Where Is Our Love Song,” the former one part gritty in the city, rappers featured slice of #BLM, the latter a very typical mash of subjective and objective love.
“Where Is Our Love Song” features Gary Clark Jr, the great white hope of a Hendrix reborn that didn’t quite pan out as planned. It is a pretty and well constructed soul track with an outstanding vocal from Wonder and a harp solo, and a pretty much invisible Clark, and it is the sort of song Wonder has always excelled at, the man is a master of making the political personal who can be mentioned in the same breath as Lennon. But the money is on “Can’t Put It In The Hands Of Fate”. A politically charged hip hop master class, with Rapsody’s shout out at the intro, and Stevie and Busta Rhymes killing the chorus, the bridge is a natural Wonder indeed, and the entire six minute plus track a charged up condemnation of systemic racism. Stevie Wonder has been on the frontline of racial justice for decades and he knows the form and excels at it.
The two songs are so closely related that they are practically one song, just adding to their immense skills of bringing Wonder roaring back to 2020. And that lick will get into your head and lodge there…
Can’t Put It In The Hands Of Fate (feat. Rapsody, Cordae, Chika & Busta Rhymes) – Stevie Wonder – A
Where Is Our Love Song (feat. Gary Clark Jr.) – Stevie Wonder, Gary Clark Jr. – B+
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – August 1975 (Volume 7, Number 3)
If I did fifty shows I’d get the money from one
a growling, prowling slap pump and just another all American
a 28 song full, full blown reggae rasta brilliance
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – July 1975 (Volume 7, Number 2)
the boundary breaking shock rocker of the decade
Harry seems to have it sewn up
a superb songwriter who can fill an album with excellent country mainstreamers
lovely tribute to her single mom
a classical guitarist and composer and has released more than 30 solo albums
“The song is about a mental institution”
Freakout Records Announce The 10th Annual Freakout Festival Taking Place on November 10-13 in Ballard (Seattle, WA)
a diverse arrangement of voices and sounds