Tributee: Stevie Wonder.
Spinna alone presents the third volume of The Wonder of Stevie and brings the series to the BBE label. Since the 2004 release of the second volume, Spinna established a run of Stevie-centric parties, dubbed Wonder-FULL, that have occasionally featured unannounced appearances from Stevland Hardaway Morris himself. In full support of Spinna, Stevie also adds a vocal drop-in to the mixed component of this volume. The selections range from the early '70s through the early 2010s, including versions of songs originally recorded by Stevie and other artists alike. Among the deeper cuts are G.C. Cameron's "If You Don't Love Me" (1972), a buried Motown gem, and obscuro fare from U.S. Atlantic First Navy Show Band (a charmingly hammy take on "Bird of Beauty") and John Minnis' Big Bone Band ("Love's in Need of Love Today," fronted by a vocalist who seems to owe as much to Donny Hathaway as he does Stevie). Some of the young'uns deviate from the obvious. The Foreign Exchange and YahZarah pluck "If She Breaks Your Heart" from the Jungle Fever soundtrack, updating its quasi-new jack backing, while Jrod Indigo recasts "Go Home" as high-gloss synth funk. The unmixed disc features the entirety of each track included in the mix and a bonus in the form of B.J. Thomas' version of "Happier Than the Morning Sun." Its slightly tripped-out mix of folk and soul, with Stevie joining in on harmonica, wouldn't have been out of place on the MoWest label. Devout fans, many of whom likely know only the Patti Austin showcase "Betcha Wouldn't Hurt Me" -- off Quincy Jones' The Dude -- need this as much as they need the first two volumes. ~ Andy Kellman