Talking Book, Stevie Wonder’s landmark 1972 LP, captured the man’s talents better than any greatest hits collection ever could.

Recorded at the height of Stevie’s career in the early 1970s, when he strayed further from the Motown pop-soul sound that made him a star in the ’60s and more toward the robust, thoughtful style that dominated his subsequent work, Talking Book showed Stevie at the top of his game.

Whether it’s a pretty, gentle love song like “You and I (We Can Conquer the World),” featuring just Stevie and his piano, or a grooving funk piece like “Superstition,” with its trademark ultra-funky clav, Stevie’s songwriting exhibited unprecedented depth and understanding.

Lyrically venturing where few other Motown acts had, Stevie tackled issues of race and politics head-on, most notably on “Big Brother,” in which he sings, “I live in the ghetto / You just come to visit me ’round election time.” At the same time, he proved he was capable of writing sentimental lines like “And I know that this must be heaven / How could so much love be inside of you?”

From political discourses to tender love songs, ecstasy to heartbreak, smooth R&B to out-and-out funk, Talking Book covers it all.

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