Stevie Wonder and Wonderlove on German TV 1974

Stevie Wonder and Wonderlove performed on German television on January 23, 1974. There are several videos of this performance. Neither of the two here is “complete.” The first version here (31:03) was uploaded to YouTube by funkyflyy2, who added these remarks:

Stevie Wonder 1974 concert on German TV show Musikladen/Beat Club.

I recorded from the European TV channel VH1 in 2003. I wish this would be released on DVD!  If someone can help me identify the musicians, it would be great. One of the ladies, Afro and a polo shirt,  singing backing vocals is Deniece Williams. She was part of Wonder’s female background singing group Wonderlove. I think this is the partial lineup, based on what Stevie says at 23.15: Reggie McBride plays bass. Michael “Mike” Sembello on guitar and keys, Ollie E. Brown on drums.

Wonderlove members were: Stevie Wonder, keyboards, vocals; Reggie McBride, bass; Michael Sembello (“Maniac” fame), lead guitar; Marlo Henderson, rhythm guitar; Ollie. E. Brown, drums; and vocalists Shirley Brewer (with the glasses on), Lani Groves, and Deniece Williams (“Let’s Here It for the Boy”).

This was not Beat Club, a show which ended in 1972. We’ve included the second video (at the bottom of the article), which cuts off the last two songs (!!!) but does include a phenomenal 50-second outburst from the band before it segues into “I’m So Glad To Be Alive.”

 

TRACK LISTING

1. I’m So Glad To Be Alive
2. Contusion
3. Higher Ground
4. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing
5. I Can See The Sun In Late December
6. He’s Misstra Know-It-All
7. Living For The City
8. Superstition

The initial outburst is truly remarkable (on the shorter video below). Then they easy into “I’m So Glad To Be Alive.” The ladies are amazing, and Wonder throws in quotes from “Danke Shoen” and “Signed, Sealed and Delivered.” Abruptly, he cuts that tune short, and the band slams into the brilliant fusion masterpiece that later emerged on Songs in the Key of Life, “Contusion.” Everything about this is right: Wonder on electric piano, Sembello crushing, McBride and Brown laying down a nasty funky bass, and the ladies on tambourines.

Next Wonder romps on clavinet as the band soars on “Higher Ground,” a track from Innervisions, which had been released the previous August. Brown’s work at drum kit is magnificent. There is another stop/start as they move to “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” (also from Innervisions). Presumably this was to get as many songs in as possible in the confined television time. The ladies offer fine backing vocals to Wonder’s lead. 

Next is the ballad “I Can See The Sun in Late December,” a song Wonder wrote for Roberta Flack. Two more songs from the new album are next. “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” again intertwines the four voices together in a heavenly chorus. 

It is amazing seeing Wonder perform this music live that has become part of the American fabric. That goes double for “Living for the City.” Sembello (!!) is tweaking that synthesizer as Wonder plays electric piano, and the ladies are again front and center. Brown then kicks that unmistakable beginning to “Superstitious” (Talking Book), Wonder dancing over his clavinet. This is a powerful if all-too-short version of the song, and the music fades under the closing titles.

Here is the shorter version with the amazing opening:

Leave a Reply