Rolling Stone - 1/25/96, p.724 Stars
- Excellent - "...throughout the course of this 25-year retrospective, Wonder repeatedly demonstrates the remarkable extent to which his distinctive inner visions have been ahead of the musical curve..."
Entertainment Weekly - 12/1/95, p.74
"...presents Wonder's music the way it was meant to be heard--with strings, horns, and a full R&B rhythm section..."
- Rating: A-
Q - 2/96, p.1004 Stars
- Excellent - "...a triumph, an intriguing showcase of Wonder's natural brilliance as singer and songwriter..."
Musician - 3/96, p.92
"...Songs that seemed contrived or inconsequential in the studio are here revealed as rich and resonantly complex..."
Personnel: Stevie Wonder (vocals, harmonica, piano); Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra (various instruments); Rick Zunigar (guitar); Isaiah Sanders, Herman Jackson (keyboards); Nathan Watts (bass); Gerry Brown (drums); Darryl Jackson (percussion); Keith John, Panzie Johnson, Marva King (background vocals).
Recorded live in Osaka, Japan and Tel Aviv, Israel. Includes liner notes by Ruth Adkins Robinson and Brian O'Neal.
There are certain things in this world that have no downside. Aside from being handed a large sum of money for no particular reason, one of the first that comes to mind is a two-disc live set from Stevie Wonder, the Poet Laureate of R&B. After you get through puzzling over the Yanni-penned liner notes and unnecessarily elaborate packaging, you'll be duly bowled over by the soulfulness, melodicism and pure musical invention contained in the two discs that make up NATURAL WONDER.
Even in the '90s, decades after he'd first recorded many of the tunes performed here, Stevie proved to be more than capable of gnerating the kind of excitement you first felt when hearing those songs. From the funky, reality-tempered optimism of "Higher Ground" to the gritty urban portrait "Living for the City" and the sunny, heart-stopping ballad "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" Stevie delivers the good with precision, emotion and plain old soul. Backed by a funky band (and occasionally the Tokyo Philharmonic) Stevie makes it plain why he's one of the most respected singer-songwriters of the 20th century.