“All I Do” by Stevie Wonder (1980)

“All I Do” was a smooth uptempo joint from Hotter Than July, a 1980 album that was Stevie’s commercial comeback after the music-buying world collectively scratched its head regarding Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants. July is a very good album that would be more highly regarded (by me and others) if not for the fact that it came from the same guy who gave us Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale & Songs In The Key Of Life.

“All I Do” wasn’t a single, but became a turntable hit on Black radio.

Stevie originally co-wrote the song for Tammi Terrell, and she recorded a version of it before her tragic passing (it’s available on digital services-it’s also on Hip-O Select’s solid two-disc anthology Come On And See Me.) Tammi’s rendition is cutesy and slower, Stevie’s is passionate (and playful-gotta give props to his growly “lemme tell you girl!” in the third verse).

Perhaps the most impressive thing about “All I Do” is the talent Stevie hired to sing background vocals: Betty Wright, The O’Jays, and Michael frickin’ Jackson (immediately post Off The Wall). His confidence was high, but he hadn’t yet gotten to the point where he sucked up the air of any room he was in. This was during the time that MJ was singing on everyone’s album-you can hear him on records by Dave Mason, Kenny Loggins, Minnie Riperton and Carole Bayer Sager from the same time period. That Michael was so awesome.

 

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