Various Artists

Key of Stevie: The Stevie Wonder Songbook

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It's rather remarkable given the sheer breadth and brilliance of Stevie Wonder's songwriting catalog just how few artists have successfully attempted cover versions -- the Red Hot Chili Peppers' hit rendition of "Higher Ground" comes to mind, and Jeff Beck recorded a scorching version of "Superstition," but it's perhaps the ultimate tribute to Wonder's singular genius that so few artists have dared to attempt breathing in his rarified air. By and large, the two-disc Key of Stevie is a compelling argument for leaving well enough alone -- not one of its 36 tracks adds anything to Wonder's original performances, and a discouraging number of these covers are outright embarrassments. Culled mostly from the latter-day Motown catalog, cuts like Jodeci's "Lately" and Will Downing's "I Can't Help It" already seem far more dated than the originals, and although contemporaries of Wonder himself, both Michael Jackson ("Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day") and Diana Ross ("Too Shy to Say") prove themselves nowhere in his league. The DJ Spinna and Bobbito-compiled The Wonder of Stevie is a far better collection of covers, although why anyone would seek out imitations in lieu of the real thing is a mystery.