Taking more than two years from conception to release, Stevie Wonder's classic 1976 double album, Songs in the Key of Life, is now generally considered his finest creative hour in an enduring, influential career of nearly ... more »four decades. Songs in the Key of Life is also regarded by many music fans as one of the outstanding albums to appear in that entire timespan. Released in October 1976, Songs in the Key of Life entered the U.S. Billboard album chart at No. 1 and remained there for 14 weeks, topping off a 44-week chart residency in the Top 40. Its success amply rewarded Motown Records' earlier $13 million investment in Wonder when it had re-signed him to the label. The deal was the largest in recording history at the time. Songs in the Key of Life also reached No. 2 in the U.K., remaining on the charts for over a year, and was a worldwide best seller. Two singles from the album, "I Wish" and "Sir Duke" (the latter dedicated to the great jazz legend Duke Ellington), both reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and were also U.K. Top 10 hits. This outstanding chart success was consolidated when Steve Wonder won Album of the Year at the 1976 Grammy Awards. He was also named Producer of the Year and won the Best Male Vocal Performance category. The remarkable story behind Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life project is told here. Stevie himself reminisces about the inspiration for the album, and there are also contributions from Motown founder (and Wonder father figure) Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and lyricist Gary Byrd, among many others. In addition, there is a unique reunion of the musicians who played on the original album sessions.« less
Mark Biering | Stone Mountain, GA United States | 04/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...and a fine one, at that. Some previous reviewers seem to have been confused about what they were buying, expecting straightforward presentations of the songs from this landmark album, then being disappointed when there were none. This is, simply, a re-packaged television show ABOUT the album, part of an excellent series from the UK called Classic Albums. As such, it's extremely well done, with lots of commentary from Steve himself, along with nearly everyone else involved in the production of the album. There are actually a couple of in-the-studio performances by the re-assembled band from the original sessions, and they're great fun, but this is NOT a concert album. It's a fascinating companion to the music, but it's certainly not intended to be a substitute for buying the CD if you don't already own it.If you do already own and love the CD, and have any interest at all in how such remarkable works of art come into being, then buy this DVD right away."
Close but no cigar
Christopher | Glendale, Arizona United States | 10/16/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I realize the great genius of Steviland Morris (who could miss it?) perhaps this video missed it. I just watched it last night and, although I love Stevie, it wasn't as exciting and captivating as it should have been. I think it sold Stevie short. There should have been much more performance footage, at least more complete songs than it did. Those that were shown in their entirety were fabulous...but it just didn't overshadow the possibilities with such a perfect video subject. I came away disappointed musically. A bright spot was seeing Stevie goof around with his buddies he hadn't seen in twenty years and showing how he put a song together, over-dub by over-dub. But even that was incomplete. It would start out ok showing how he built a groove, but then just as it was getting exciting... switched to something else. I give it a C+. But if you're already a Stevie fan, it's a just a "good" thing, that had the potential to be great, to add to your collection."
Christopher | 06/17/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Watch out ! This is just a documentary, there are no clips on this wonderful album by the Wonder man."
Excellent insight into Stevie's genius and talent.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Ontario, Canada | 04/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Songs in the Key of Life" is an all-access analysis of one the landmark albums of the 20th century. Stevie, the musicians who participated and staff at the studio treat us to a glimpse back at true magic as many songs are dissected and appreciated from a true inside perspective. It's also amazing to see the heart-warming affect Stevie has on all whom work with him. There are many moments of awe and admiration as his collegues refer to the "spirituality" and "gift of kindness" that Stevie unfolds to everybody. This video is an excellent snapshot of all that is Stevie Wonder. If your not a huge fan, you will be after this tour de force!"
DVD has the potential but lacks content
Christopher | 05/06/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with another reviewer...this DVD should include the entire album on it...the documentary is only about 70 minutes and I would like to see some old concert footage as a bonus to buy the DVD...every month we see the lamest movies of the year released on DVD with maybe 2 or 3 good ones out of 100....you can't go wrong with Stevie but the VHS video offers the same for less ($13.99)"