Saturday, June 11, 2011

Top Box Sets/Compilations: Stevie Wonder

As I work my way through the Top 50 list, I'll also be adding short pieces about some of my favorite compilations and box sets - representing artists that I think are best represented by such a release, rather than any individual album.

Stevie Wonder's "At the Close of a Century" is a remarkable testament to a remarkable artist. Its four discs cover every aspect of Wonder's career (through 1999), and together they demonstrate that, while Wonder came out of the gate with blazing speed, over the years he added a depth and a passion that has been matched by few.

Wonder's early Motown hits crackle with vitality and innocence, but even early on you can see an artistic restlessness; a desire to do more with his gifts - best demonstrated by his covers of Bob Dylan and the Beatles.

By the 1970s, Wonder had become an artist who was clearly hitting on all cylinders. In that decade, he produced a body of work that can be matched with the best ten years of any artist who has ever entered a recording studio. It's no wonder that he has never matched that period of sustained greatness; no one could. But even through the 80s and 90s, Wonder proved that he was an artist of substance, an artist who could be counted on to always produce work worthy of our attention and enjoyment.

"At the Close of A Century" - The best of Stevie Wonder.

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