Jheri Curl June: Stevie Wonder’s “Love Light in Flight”

Jheri Curl June: Stevie Wonder’s “Love Light in Flight”

It’s a well-known fact that most white music critics don’t “get” ’80s Stevie Wonder. And for a long time, I was no exception: I took as gospel the truism that it was all downhill for Stevie after Hotter Than July, and I levied what I considered to be the appropriate amount of scorn on his material from the era. You know that scene in High Fidelity where Barry throws the guy out of the store because he wants to buy “I Just Called to Say I Love You?” That was basically me.

But with age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes a less snobby attitude toward popular culture. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still don’t like “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” But I’m not too proud to say that I love another song from Wonder’s much-reviled 1984 soundtrack to The Woman in Red, “Love Light in Flight”–how could any self-respecting Jheri Curl fan not? Like last week’s song by Kashif, it’s a stellar example of the new subgenre I pulled out of my ass called “sophisticurl”: you can picture it being played at a yacht party, with discreetly jheri-curled attendees wearing Coogi sweaters and clinking their champagne glasses. It’s genteel, but indelibly funky: a vibe that Stevie Wonder nailed effortlessly in his middle years. And it doesn’t even require an appreciation of poorly-aged Gene Wilder comedies to enjoy!

See you tomorrow for more Jheri Curl June. Spotify and YouTube playlists below.

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3 Comments
  • postpunkmonk says:

    Well, the last Stevie Wonder that caught my ear was the sharply cut “Skeletons” from 1987’s “Characters” album. It was used in the film “Die Hard” and was one of the first 3″ CDs [promo only] I remember seeing in a catalog and at the time, I contemplated buying it, but didn’t. Perhaps due to the cumulative drag of the Bowie-80s-like period of Wonder’s career from 1980 onward. “I Just Called To Say I Love You” managed to make even “Let’s Dance” sound brilliant in retrospect. That rhythm box and especially the “cha-cha-cha” ending were just fatal credibility blows.

    • Zach says:

      Oh god, I’d actually forgotten (/had blocked) the “cha-cha-cha” ending. Now I’m mad all over again.

      • postpunkmonk says:

        Zach – Remembering is the price we pay so future generations can live in a world free of the most clichéd cold ending possible! It staggers the mind to think that Stevie Wonder even considered this hack work much less committed it to a master tape.

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