Very Superstitious…

talking book cover

On October 28, 1972, Stevie Wonder released his album, Talking Book recorded at Electric Lady Studios at 52 West 8th Street. Rolling Stone Magazine’s review of the album at the time described “…the laid back funk of the vocals resting on a deliciously liquid instrumental track like a body on a waterbed. Yet there’s never a lack of energy: Even at its dreamiest, the music has a glowing vibrancy.”

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John Storyk (l.), the studio architect/acoustician who designed Electric Lady Studios, and Eddie Kramer (r.), engineer of Hendrix’s recording sesions, with the now-removed facade of Electric Lady Strudios, via sonicscoop.com.

At just 21 years old, Stevie Wonder moved to New York and booked himself at the Electric Lady Studios founded by Jimi Hendrix in 1970. Hendrix decided to build his own studio when he realized he was spending $300,000 a year in studio time; it was common for artists to not just record in the studio but also write music and rehearse. Hendrix had a love for music technology, one which Wonder shared, and the studio was fitted with the best gear available. Electric Lady Studios established the precedent of artists owning their own studio space rather than relying on studios owned by recording companies. The building at 52 West 8th street was originally “The Village Barn,” a country-themed nightclub and dining hall, from 1930 to 1967. Prior to becoming Electric Lady Studio, the building housed the popular “Generation Club,” where Hendrix, among many other musicians of the day, performed. Unfortunately, Hendrix passed just three weeks after Electric Lady’s opening.

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Stevie Wonder at Electric Lady Studios, 1972

Talking Book was the second of four albums released within an astonishingly short two-and-a-half years between 1972 and 1974. These were all produced with basically the same production team of Wonder, Robert Margouleff, and Malcolm Cecil, but it was Talking Book which Margouleff and Cecil pointed to as the peak of their collaboration with Wonder. Innovations in music technology at the time such as multi-track capabilities, as well as keyboard and synthesizer technology played a major role in the music Wonder would produce during this time. Three days prior to the release of the album, the record company released ‘Superstition’ as a single providing Wonder with his first pop Number One since 1963’s ‘Fingertips.’ Other tracks include ‘You are the Sunshine of my Life,’ ‘Maybe You Baby,’ ‘You and I,’ ‘Tuesday Heartbreak,’ to name a few.

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