Picks and Pans Review: Jungle Fever
Oh, there are exceptions—New Jack City, say, or Pretty in Pink. But sound tracks are usually the weak links of the record world, projects hastily and sloppily hacked together to cross-promote a movie.
Stevie don't play that. As he did with his previous sound track, 1979's Journey Through the Secret Lives of Plants, Wonder has invested a good deal of creativity in this venture, making for a collection of 11 songs sturdy enough to stand on their own merits.
"Fun Day," despite its intricate harmonies and jazz shadings, is one of the airiest romps since Wonder's Where Fm Coming From era two decades ago. That long-ago album also echoes through the watercolor chord changes of "I Go Sailing" and "If She Breaks Your Heart," which features vocals by Kimberly Brewer.
Other highlights are the dense funk of "Each Other's Throat" (read) for Stevie the quicksilver rapper?) and the walkin'-the-dog groove of "Gotta Have You." And wait till you hear the verve of the ballad "Make Sure You're Sure." Even a relatively clumsy Wonder tune—"Queen in the Black"—has redeeming aspects in its gathering momentum. "These Three Words," a saccharine paean to togetherness, is fortified by vocal glissandos Stevie unleashes near its conclusion.
The arrangements tend to be cluttered, making this album not worthy of inclusion in the top shelf of the Wonder canon. It does, however, invite numerous listenings, which is more than can be said for, oh, the music from The Rocketeer. (Motown)