Fulfillingness’ First Finale
Three days after Innervisions was released, Wonder was involved in a serious car accident where he was fortunate to survive and went through a lengthy time of hospitalisation and rehabilitation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the resulting Fulfillingness’ First Finale is a much more downbeat and personal album, with Wonder contemplating his mortality on ‘Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away’ and ‘They Won’t Go When I Go’. There’s still social commentary, with Wonder criticising the Nixon regime on ‘You Haven’t Done Nothin”, but most of the album is subdued. It gets somewhat overlooked between the twin peaks of Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life, but it’s my pick as his finest work.
It’s less ambitious, but it still feels masterfully crafted, and even the straightforward R&B songs like ‘It Ain’t No Use’ and ‘Please Don’t Go’ are very strong. ‘They Won’t Go When I Go’ is bare and heartbreaking, while perhaps the most distinctive song is ‘Creepin” with its stripped down and unsettling groove. ‘Boogie On Reggae Woman’ still feels like a hit with its weird synth bass, as does ‘You Haven’t Done Nothin” with its clavinet line.
It’s possibly his most subtle work, but Fulfillingness’ First Finale is also among his finest.