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The Definitive Collection ()

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When you're putting together a 21-song collection of a major artist who's had more than 40 Top 40 hits, inevitably there's going to be a lot of good stuff left out. Stevie Wonder's long and varied career (not over when this anthology appeared) really needs more than one disc to even adequately summarize the highlights. But this single-disc comp does squeeze in most of his best-known songs, from 1963's "Fingertips, Pt. 2" to the mid-'80s number one hits "Part-Time Lover" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You." Along the way there's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," "I Was Made to Love Her," "For Once in My Life," "My Cherie Amour," "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," "Superstition," "Higher Ground," "Living for the City," "You Haven't Done Nothin'," "Boogie on Reggae Woman," "I Wish," "Sir Duke," and more. There is a sharp decline in quality following "Masterblaster (Jammin')," but at least that only lasts five songs. Of course, there's a lot missing too: "A Place in the Sun," "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day," "If You Really Love Me," and "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," to pick only some obvious candidates. Why exactly the 1967 single "Hey Love" (a Top Ten R&B single that barely made the pop charts) is included is a mystery, though at least it breaks up the predictability. For casual fans it's a decent career-spanning overview, though, and even the most casual fan will sense the musical genius and enormous artistic growth that shines through most of the selections. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi Hide synopsis

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