Syreeta – 1972 Syreeta / 1974 Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta
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The first 2 Motown albums by the lovely Syreeta both of them recorded under the supervision of her partner Stevie Wonder! The genius of these records is hard to describe accurately a sort of spacey soul approach that builds on the work of Stevie at the time, but which also has traces of Minnie Riperton and it’s own sort of fragile, gentle, groove. The Syreeta album is very spare often just featuring bits of electronics and percussion next to Syreeta’s pure and honest vocals and while the Stevie Wonder Presents album works in slightly fuller arrangements, the sound is still nicely stripped-down overall very unique for the time, not only for Motown, but for all of mainstream soul as well!
Syreeta – 1972 – Syreeta
1. I Love Every Liitle Thing About You
2. Black Maybe
3. Keep Him Like He Is
5. She’s Leaving Home
6. What Love Has Joined Together
7. How Many Days
8. Baby Don’t You Let Me Lose This
9. To Know You Is To Love You
Without doubt one of the best female vocalist albums ever made,
Yet still it remains largely overlooked as a Stevie Wonder side-project withhis then wife Syreeta. Syreeta’s incredibly delicate voice fits perfectly with Stevie’s experimental use of synthesisers. Margouleff andCecil are credited as synth programmers and TONTO is clearly at work in the very opening bars of the album with a wonderful electronic rhythmic effect. The Moog basslines growl throughout – the first two tracks in particular are awash with Stevie’s synth playing – and the use of real strings on Keep Him Like He Is and What Love Has Joined Together givethis album a powerful uplifting feel despite its daring experimentation.
It seems Stevie felt he could push his ideas even further on this album – released on an obscure Motown off-shoot – than his own high-profile Motown projects.
Syreeta – 1974 – Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta
1. I’m Goin’ Left
2. Spinnin’ and Spinnin’
3. Your Kiss Is Sweet
4. Come and Get This Stuff
5. Heavy Day
6. Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers
7. Just a Little Piece of You
8. Waitin’ for the Postman
9. When Your Daddy’s Not Around
10. I Wanna Be by Your Side
11. Universal Sound of the World (Your Kiss Is Sweet)
12. Harmour Love
13. Let’s Make A Deal
14. One To One
After a promising but uneven debut, Syreeta summoned her creative strengths and worked in tandem with creative partner Stevie Wonder to produce another album in 1974. The result was Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta, the most delightful and consistent album of her career. As with Syreeta, this album pursues a combination of smooth soul tracks ideally suited to Syreeta’s silky vocal range and more experimental outings that are creatively in line with Wonder’s then-current solo work. However, the eclecticism that weighed down Syreeta is transformed into a strength on Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta: the tracks pursue a dazzling array of different pop-soul styles, but everything is kept in check by solid performances from everyone involved and tight arrangements that keep the album’s hook-filled songs on track. Highlights on the first side include “Spinnin’ and Spinnin‘,” a clever tune that uses a spiraling, carnival-styled keyboard motif to bring its tale of an unwieldy relationship to life, and “Come And Get This Stuff,” a funky pop number built on an infectious sing-along chorus. Another notable track is “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers,” a delicate breakup ballad with a stunning, ethereal vocal from Syreeta. On the second side, a majority of the running time is devoted to an Abbey Road-style medley of short tracks. Everything here is catchy and well-arranged, but the highlight is “I Wanna Be By Your Side“, a heart-melting romantic duet between Syreeta and fellow Motown solo artist G.C. Cameron. All in all, Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta is the shining moment of Syreeta’s solo career and a lost highlight of 1970’s soul in general. Any fans of Stevie Wonder owe it to themselves to track this album down because it makes a worthy companion to albums like Talking Book and Innervisions.