Stevie Wonder

Natural Wonder

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Following the relative commercial failure of Conversation Peace, Stevie Wonder rushed out this double-disc live album drawn from an international tour during which he was backed by different symphony orchestras, his older songs featuring string parts in place of the synthesizer lines. He introduced several new songs -- "Dancing to the Rhythm," the instrumental "Stevie Ray Blues," "Stay Gold," and "Ms. & Mr. Little Ones" -- which demonstrated that his melodic muse was still with him and that he remained an awkward lyricist when he was more interested in the political stance than the poetical scansion. But for most of the running time, he acted as a human jukebox, pumping out his bits with enthusiasm and humor before an audibly enthralled audience. That made Natural Wonder entertaining, but inessential.

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