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Rock Hall Anniversary: Stevie Wonder’s Fulfilliness’ First Finale

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Stevie Wonder (Born Stevland Hardaway Morris) performs on Day 2 of the Calling Festival at Clapham Common on June 29, 2014 in London, England.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Stevie Wonder (Born Stevland Hardaway Morris) performs on Day 2 of the Calling Festival at Clapham Common on June 29, 2014 in London, England.
Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images

As the 1970s rolled on, so to did the classic period of Stevie Wonder.

In July 1974, he released his seventeenth album Fulfilliness’ First Finale. Subsequent to the social consciousness of 1973’s Innervisions, the album took a more personal turn, especially when it contained mostly relationship songs, some of which became the album’s key tracks. Two of those songs was the reggae-tingled “Boogie on Reggae Woman”, and the dreamy yet funky “Creepin”.

But Wonder doesn’t quite abandon the social commentary, which dominated Innervisions. In fact, it can found in the track “You Haven’t Done Nothin”, which gave criticism to the Nixon Administration. The song would also be notable for having a cameo appearance by the Jackson 5, who sings the words “Doo da wop” in the chorus. Released as a single, the song would top the pop and R&B charts. Other key tracks on Fulfilliness’ First Finale include “Too Shy to Say” and “They Won’t Go When I Go” (which Wonder co-wrote with Yvonne Wright, and would go on to perform at Michael Jackson’s 2009 memorial at the Staples Center).

Upon released, Fulfilliness’ First Finale received critical acclaim, yet despite coming from his “classic” period, the acclaim was never in the leagues of his other 1970s work including Innervisions, Talking Book, or Songs in the Key of Life. But the album was a huge hit, as it unseated Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard from the top of Billboard 200, to become Wonder’s first number one album since 1963’s The 12 Year Old Genius. The album also became Wonder’s second consecutive album, to win the Grammy for Album of the Year, and many of the tracks have been covered by other artists including George Michael, Luther Vandross, and Phish.