Stevie Wonder

My Voice of Sorrow

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My Voice of Sorrow is an odd title for what's for the most part a quite joyous, if quite unauthorized, DVD of a couple live television performances from Stevie Wonder's prime. Nearly an hour of the disc is given over to his appearance on the New York TV program Soul in 1972, in which Wonder's happiness at entering the period in which he would be free to express himself as a creative singer/songwriter is abundantly evident. With a large ensemble including three women backup singers and Ray Parker, Jr. on lead guitar, he offers an ebullient set that almost functions as a "greatest hits to date" sort of overview, including "For Once in My Life," "If You Really Love Me," "My Cherie Amour," "Blowing in the Wind," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours," "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," and his then-current smash, "Superstition." But there are detours into less expected numbers like "With a Child's Heart" and a brief vamp on "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," as well as a passing use of talking synthesizer vocals and a small interview bit where he cites 1950s R&B singer Jesse Belvin as a big influence. He and the band often flow from song to song in a manner almost as suggestive of jazzy jamming as a soul revue. (Don't get too excited by the presence of "What's Going On" on the track list, however, as it's not a vocal cover of the Marvin Gaye classic, but an instrumental passage during which some of the song's melody is hinted at.) The remaining six songs on the DVD come from a German TV broadcast in 1975, and while the audiovisual quality isn't quite as good on this portion, it's still satisfactory. If Wonder's performance on this segment isn't quite as sunny, it's just as energetic, including his well-known classics "Higher Ground," "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," and "Living for the City." Though perhaps these programs would look and sound a bit better if packaged for official release, the audiovisual quality is very good, leading one to "Wonder" why this outstanding and historic material has not been made commercially available.