The Epic 2017 Project #351: 171217
Stevie Wonder – Inner Visions (1973)
Innervisions was Stevie Wonder’s 16th studio album, released on 3rd August, 1973, on the Tamla label for Motown Records, a landmark recording of his “classic period”. The nine tracks of Innervisions encompass a wide range of themes and issues: from drug abuse in “Too High”, through inequality and systemic racism in “Living for the City”, to love in the ballads “All in Love Is Fair” and “Golden Lady”. The album’s closer, “He’s Misstra Know-It-All”, is a scathing attack on then-US President Richard Nixon, similar to Wonder’s song a year later, “You Haven’t Done Nothin'”.
As with many of Stevie Wonder’s albums, the lyrics, composition and production are almost entirely his own work, with the ARP synthesizer used prominently throughout the album. The instrument was a common motif among musicians of the time because of its ability to construct a complete sound environment. Wonder was the first black artist to experiment with this technology on a mass scale, and Innervisions was hugely influential on the subsequent future of commercial black music. He also played all or virtually all instruments on six of the album’s nine tracks, making most of Innervisions a representative one-man band.
The Epic 2017 Project #291: 171018
Seal’s self-titled debut was released in 1991 and features the singles “Crazy”, “Future Love Paradise”, “The Beginning”, “Killer” and “Violet”. The album debuted at No.1 in the UK and went on to win Best British Album at the 1992 Brit Awards.
There are two versions of the album, with minor and major differences in three songs. The shorter version of “Wild” is more rock-based and heavy than the original. The shorter version of “Violet” contains no dialogue within the singing. Track lengths of both versions are given for each song affected. “Killer” is a re-recorded version of the UK number one single by Adamski, which also features Seal on vocals.
Many of the songs (including various ZTT mixes) were featured in the Greg Stump 1991 film Groove Requiem in the Key of Ski. Later Seal tracks appeared in other Stump films as well. The track “Killer” was also featured on the American crime series Homicide: Life on the Street and was included on the 2-disc soundtrack album.
The song “Crazy” was covered by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on their album Take a Break, by Mushroomhead on their album XIII, by Talisman on their 1995 album Life, by Alanis Morissette on her 2005 compilation album Alanis Morissette: The Collection, and by German power metal band Iron Savior.
The Epic 2017 Project #283: 171010
Santana – Supernatural (1999)
Santana’s 17th studio album was released in June 1999. It went on to win eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year as well as three Latin Grammy Awards including Record of the Year.
The album, conceived by Clive Davis and A&R’d by Pete Ganbarg, was a major global hit, eventually selling more than 30 million copies.It is the most successful album by Santana, hitting the number one spot in ten countries, including the United States. It is also the highest-selling album of original material released by any artist who had already been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame prior to its release and second highest-selling overall behind The Beatles compilation album 1.
The album included two major hit singles. “Smooth”, which featured Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas on vocals, was the first. And the follow-up, “Maria Maria” (which featured The Product G&B), reached the No.1 slot in several countries. Santana and Rob Thomas won three Grammy Awards for their collaboration on the song “Smooth” while Santana and Everlast won another for the song “Put Your Lights On”. Santana also won a Grammy for “Maria Maria”. Carlos Santana became the first Hispanic to win the Record of the Year Grammy Award, while the Album of the Year Grammy Award was bestowed upon Clive Davis.
Among the other guest artists are Eric Clapton, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews, Maná, KC Porter and Cee-Lo Green.
The Epic Project 2017 #280: 170107
Saint Jude – Diary of a soul fiend (2010)
Saint Jude were an English, London-based rock and soul band, fronted by the vocalist Lynne Jackaman. Formed in 2008, their debut (and only) album ‘Diary of a Soul Fiend’, was released in September 2010.
On 11 December 2011, they were named Classic Rock magazine’s “Gig of the Week.” They played the Germany Rockpalast venue (which was later broadcast on WDR), Rhythm Festival, Off The Tracks Festival, Cornbury Festival, High Voltage Festival, the UK leg of Sonisphere Festival, and completed a mini tour of the UK in December, finishing with a headline slot at London’s Scala venue.They were also nominated Best New Band at the 2011 Classic Rock Roll Of Honour.
The band folded in 2014. There was an EP follow up to the debut – ‘Ladies & Gents’ in 2013. But sadly things didn’t last long enough for anything else.
The Epic 2017 Project #279: 171006
Sade = Diamond Life (1984)
Diamond Life was Sade Adu’s (better known by just her Christian name) debut studio album, released in the UK on 16 July 1984 by Epic Records.
After studying fashion design, and later modelling, Sade Adu began backup singing with British band Pride. During this time Adu and three of the original members of “Pride” – Paul Anthony Cook, Paul Denman and Stuart Matthewman – left the group to form their own band called Sade. Following various demos and performances, Sade received interest from record labels and later signed to Epic.
Recording for the album began in 1983 at The Power Plant in London and took a total of six weeks to complete. The album’s content was written by the group Sade whilst the production was handled by Robin Millar. A total of fifteen songs were recorded for the album with the use of live instruments that used sonically experimental material. The album contained a variety of musical elements including soul, jazz and sophisti-pop, with lyrics revolving mainly around themes of love.
Upon release, Diamond Life was met with acclaim from music critics and went on to win the Brit Award for Best British Album in 1985. Commercially the album was a success charting highly in the UK and US, and was later certified multi platinum in both regions. Diamond Life went on to sell over six million copies worldwide, becoming one of the top-selling debut recordings of the ’80s and the best-selling debut by a British female vocalist, until Welsh singer Duffy released her debut studio album, Rockferry in 2008. The album spawned four singles including the hit singles “Your Love Is King” and “Smooth Operator”.
The Epic 2017 Project #169: 170618
Mary Mary – Thankful (1999)
Thankful was Mary Mary’s debut studio album, released on May 2, 2000 through Columbia Records. It’s all about contemporary gospel, R&B, hip hop and soul and as a part of that, produced the smash crossover hit “Shackles (Praise You)”, which reached the top-ten in seven countries. This was closely followed by the single “I Sings”, which was also a significant hit—although it did not match the success of its predecessor.
The album established Mary Mary as one of the leading artists in contemporary Christian music, and won the duo a Grammy Award in 2001. It peaked at number one on the US Gospel Albums, number twenty-two on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and number fifty-nine on the US Billboard 200. On release, AllMusic gave it a grade of four and a half out of five stars and Cross Rhythms – the main Christian music publisher – a top 10/10.
The Epic 2017 Project #124: 170504
Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)
Thriller is the sixth studio album by American singer Michael Jackson, released on November 30, 1982 in the United States by Epic Records and internationally by CBS Records.
The follow-up to Jackson’s successful previous studio album, Off the Wall (1979), Thriller explores genres similar to those of its predecessor, including pop, post-disco, rock and funk. Recording sessions for the album took place from April to November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, with a production budget of $750,000. Quincy Jones produced the album, while Jackson wrote four of its nine songs.
In just over a year, Thriller became—and currently remains—the world’s best-selling album, with estimated sales of 65 million copies.