|Jam until the break of dawn! Released in 1980, Stevie Wonder’s brilliant Hotter Than July followed up with a bang a film soundtrack that witnessed the end of the legendary artist’s “Classic Period.” And how. Excited after meeting Bob Marley, Wonder embraced reggae’s sunnier feel and colorful look on the album, which yielded for Top Ten singles in the U.K. and three charting singles in the U.S. Hotter Than July remains the peerless composer’s last true masterpiece.
Possessing a slightly faster and jam-oriented direction that Wonder’s other trademark efforts, the record finds the singer doing what he does best: Crafting memorable arrangements and addictive grooves, all the while ignoring the musical trends that surrounded him at the time. Wonder flirts with a disco pulse on “All I Do,” yet the main attractions relate to his irrepressible soulfulness. Rather than play everything himself, he switches up his prior methods by employing all-star backing choirs and abundant rhythm sections that grace songs with insouciant tunefulness and buoyant hooks. More than a dozen backing vocalists (including Michael Jackson, Eddie Levert, and Angela Winbush) as well as multiple handclap percussionists are involved in the process.
Historically, Hotter Than July not only marks a return to form, but a launching pad for the now-observed Martin Luther King holiday. With the anthemic “Happy Birthday,” Wonder issued a call to action and ultimately, got it. The song is line with the mood of the majority of the album: celebratory, positive, and lively. Wonder, however, doesn’t abandon his penchant for social critique, as “Cash In Your Face” stands as a protest against housing discrimination. Simply put, Hotter Than July has it all, and more than 30 years after its original release, continues to burn brightly.
Mastered on Mobile Fidelity’s world-renowned mastering system and pressed at RTI (America's best record plant), this numbered limited edition LP of Wonder’s timeless R&B-bursting work reveals previously obscured colors, tonalities, textures, and dimensions. Sonically, this version is signed, sealed, and delivered, with the express purpose of turning your system into a spirited lounge where Wonder sits at the piano and some of the funkiest, soulful musicians put on a show you’ll never forget.