Little Stevie turns 59 today. Blind from birth, Stevie went on to be the darling of Motown from the age of the 13 to becoming an international funk and R&B superstar. Here’s a ripping version of his song “Superstition” from Sesame Street (!) circa 1974.
Stevie Wonder released an album under the name Eivets Rednow in 1968. What’s the significance? It’s a palindrome and is Stevie Wonder backwards. (MSD Note: I’ve been corrected. A palindrome is the same word forwards and backwards. Something I knew at one time, but through years of inhabiting my brain, it fell out at some point. On a related note, the Grateful Dead’s excellent 1969 album, AOXOMOXOA is a palindrome.)
“Boogie On Reggae Woman” was an AM radio hit for Stevie Wonder off of his 1974 album, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, reaching #3 on the U.S. pop charts. It has an unmistakable Moog synth bass line and a trademark harmonica solo from Stevie. It was rumored that Bob Marley and Stevie were supposed to collaborate on the song, but the legendary pairing never materialized.
Here’s a Motown time capsule film showcasing the song:
The members of Phish were between 9 and 12 years old at the time of the release of the single. Fast forward 13 years to early 1987 and you find a youthful band from Vermont playing their 60th show at Slade Hall at The University Of Vermont. Towards the end of the second set, they play “Boogie On Reggae Woman” for the first of the thirty-three times that they will play it. They would play it three more times over the next year and then it vanished from their setlists, only to reappear at the legendary 12/7/1997 show at The Nutter Center in Dayton, OH, sandwiched between “Wolfman’s Brother” and “Reba”.
“Boogie On..” has proved to be many a fan’s favorite and certainly many fans’ favorite cover song by Phish. Rightly so, as it was always a funk vehicle for the band and showcased how thick they could lay down the funk. Some notable appearances of the song have been: 11/21/1998 at Hampton Coliseum, 9/18/1999 at Chula Vista, CA, 12/11/1999 in Philly, 12/31/1999 in The Everglades, Jason Colton’s (band management) wedding, 1/4/03 post-hiatus at Hampton and then the last appearance 6/26/2004 at Alpine Valley. The real question is, when do you think they’ll play it next?
Here are some videos of Phish performing “Boogie On…”:
This show was recorded shortly after Stevie’s accident with a logging truck that left him in a coma for four days. It’s a great soundboard that pulls strongly from his masterwork, Innervisions.
2. Contusion > Higher Ground
4. To Know You Is To Love You
5. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
7. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing
8. Living For The City
9. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
11. My Dreams
Fantastic time capsule video here of Motown artist, Stevie Wonder’s 1973, “Living For The City”.
I remember seeing this as a kid. A very, very young kid. I remember thinking it was much cooler than that Bee Gees disco album that was popular at the time. It still is a lot cooler than that Bee Gees album.
Check out how hard that kid on the top step is rocking. He’s got it going on. I wonder where he is now.