The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Higher Ground: Audio Fidelity Reissues Vintage Stevie Wonder, James Taylor on 24K Gold CD

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For its April 3 release slate, the Audio Fidelity label is returning to the catalogues of two tried-and-true artists and label favorites.

Having tackled James Taylor’s second, fourth and fifth albums, Audio Fidelity fills the gap in Taylor’s Warner Bros. catalogue with the release of the singer/songwriter’s third LP, 1971’s Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon.  Similarly, the label has given the remastered 24K Gold CD treatment to four of the five albums from Wonder’s “golden era” at Motown (1972-1976) and now Is turning its attention to the fifth of those records, 1973’s Innervisions.

After the breakthrough success of Taylor’s Sweet Baby James and its single “Fire and Rain,” the artist scored another major success with the April 1971 release of Mud Slide Slim.  Containing his only Billboard No. 1 hit, “You’ve Got a Friend,” the album itself made it all the way up the chart to No. 2…and was held off from the top spot, ironically, by Carole King’s Tapestry.  That album not only featured Carole King’s own version of her song “You’ve Got a Friend,” but prominently featured the participation of, you guessed it, James Taylor!  But there’s much more to Mud Slide Slim than just “You’ve Got a Friend.”  The album, produced by Peter Asher, also introduced another Top 40 hit, “Long Ago and Far Away,” and the much-covered ballad “You Can Close Your Eyes.”  Taylor’s longtime friend and guitarist Danny Kortchmar supplied one of the album’s tracks, “Machine Gun Kelly.”  Kortchmar joined Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, Joni Mitchell, Kate Taylor and Carole King among the album’s key personnel.  When the Grammy Awards rolled around, both King and Taylor were rewarded with trophies for “You’ve Got a Friend.”  For Audio Fidelity’s edition, Steve Hoffman has handled the remastering chores.

Hit the jump to explore Innervisions.  You’ll also find pre-order links and track listings for both titles.

Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions followed 1972’s Talking Book and preceded 1974’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale, both already released on 24K Gold CD by Audio Fidelity.  Over nine tracks from the creatively charged artist, Innervisions tackles weighty topics in such soulful songs as “Living for the City” and “Too High” alongside golden ballads like “All in Love is Fair.”  Also typical for this prolific period of Wonder’s long career, he played nearly every instrument, including prominent ARP synthesizer, on a full two-thirds of the album.  Upon its release in August 1973, Innervisions climbed surely up the Billboard album chart, all thr way to No. 4 in September.  Its three singles were all successful: “Higher Ground” (No. 4), “Living for the City” (No. 8) and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” (No. 16).  “All In Love is Fair” later became a single in the hands of Barbra Streisand.  Innervisions picked up three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Best R&B Song for “Living for the City.”  Kevin Gray has remastered the album for Audio Fidelity.

Both Innervisions and Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon will be available on April 3.

James Taylor, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon (Warner Bros. LP BS-2561, 1971 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ 128, 2012)

  1. Love Has Brought Me Around
  2. You’ve Got a Friend
  3. Places in My Past
  4. Riding on a Railroad
  5. Soldiers
  6. Mud Slide Slim
  7. Hey Mister, That’s Me Up on the Jukebox
  8. You Can Close Your Eyes
  9. Machine Gun Kelly
  10. Long Ago and Far Away
  11. Let Me Ride
  12. Highway Song
  13. Isn’t It Nice to Be Home Again

Stevie Wonder, Innervisions (Tamla LP T-326L, 1973 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ 086, 2012)

  1. Too High
  2. Visions
  3. Living for the City
  4. Golden Lady
  5. Higher Ground
  6. Jesus Children of America
  7. All in Love is Fair
  8. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing
  9. He’s Misstra Know-It-All

Written by Joe Marchese

March 21, 2012 at 10:05

One Response

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  1. The MFSL Gold version of Innervisions is excellent…and allegedly mastered from Stevie’s personal master tape, NOT the copies he gave Motown, which are the basis for every other remaster including the previous Audio Fidelity releases. This should be an interesting shoot-out.


    March 21, 2012 at 18:13

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