“Hotter than July” always makes me think about the difference between saying that an album is an artist’s “best” as opposed to “my favorite.”
My head says that Stevie Wonder’s “best” album is either “Songs in the Key of Life,” or “Innervisions,” or “Talking Book,” or “Music of My Mind.” But my heart is clear – my favorite Stevie Wonder album is 1980’s “Hotter than July.”
From start to finish, the album is a winner – great fast songs, great mid-tempo tunes, and a classic ballad. It’s got “Master Blaster,” it’s got “Happy Birthday,” it’s got “Lately,” and a host of other instant classics. And it features Stevie playing with a full band, one that keeps topping itself with each song.
Trust me, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Christgau: A-. “Between his free-floating melodicism and his rolling overdrive, his hope and his cynicism, he seems more and more like the best thing the '60s ever happened to. Sure outlasted Jerry Garcia, now didn't he?”