Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic (2023)

15 Reviews

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Toulouse Aug 20 2006 Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic (1)

I have got to be honest. I just don't like Stevie Wonder's music. I definitely respect him as a person doing something with his life even though he's blind, and other people seem to like him. But I just never find his music appealing. The only song I ever loved him singing (which isn't in this album) was "For Once In My Life)." So, it is possible you might like him. But get a different album that has higher ratings if you want to try him out.



UKDave Aug 12 2003 Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic (2)

Though it would be great to turn the clock back and experience once again the freshness of _Talking Book_ and the four albums that followed, Stevie went some way to redeeming himself with the release of _Characters_. "Skeletons" and "Dark 'n' Lovely" offer those typically funky synth bass lines. "You Will Know" is a ballad which is great to sing along to and doesn't have the cringe factor (?) of "I Just Called To Say I Love You" or "Overjoyed". The infectious "Crying Through The Night" worms its way into your head and stays there for days. The standard of songs is high throughout, the CD version containing 2 bonus tracks, one of which is a 7 minute version of "My Eyes Don't Cry".

To summarise, not a classic in the true sense, but a turn in the right direction. Last but not least, some great artwork on the sleeve, particularly on the inner gatefold of the LP version.


pp789 May 24 2022 Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic (3)

I'm starting to wonder if Stevie Wonder is such a wonder as he claims to be...
No but seriously, this is yet another disappointing album that I heard from Stevie. It's bunch of boring formless songs that just go by. Even the Michael Jackson duo is just boring.
This is all the bad stuff of the 80's, so unless you have a huge 80's nostalgia steer clear of this.



LSMTW 11175 Vinyl LP (1987)

alexwonder Jul 31 2021 Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic (4)

Stevie Wonder released his Characters album on November 6, 1987.
It received mixed reviews from critics and debuted at #17 on the US Billboard 200, becoming Wonder’s first album since “Music Of My Mind” (1972) not to reach the top ten of the charts, but it also debuted at #1 on the Top R&B Albums, cementing his standing among black audiences.
With musical guests spanning from Michael Jackson to B.B. King to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Characters earned Stevie three Grammy Award nominations in 1988-1989 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
It has been certified Platinum by the RIAA, denoting sales for more than 1 million copies in the United States. To date, Characters has shipped more than 2 million copies worldwide.
Primarily aimed at a black urban audience, the follow-up to 1985’s “In Square Circle” is tougher, funkier and more biting. It yielded the #1 R&B hits “Skeletons” - his last Top 20 pop hit to date - and the spiritual ballad “You Will Know”. Other highlights were Free, With Each Beat of My Heart and the anti-apartheid synth-funk of Dark ‘N’Lovely.
By 1987, Stevie was more involved in worldly affairs like injustices and the like rather than recording. By using his fame and fortune to make people aware of the many wrongs taking place in this world, many say distracted from the quality and frequency of the work at hand.
Overall, Characters definitely doesn’t ranks with Stevie’s best works, the production in fact is too polished, bland and weak if compared to his ‘70s and early ‘80s works. Several songs could definitely be replaced, but it was by no means a bad release and compares well with other music of the time.


Highlights: Free, With Each Beat of My Heart, Skeletons, You Will Know, Dark ‘N’ Lovely, Cryin’ Through The Night



Matt_K Jun 24 2021

1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear

#36: Stevie Wonder - Characters (1987)

More like Characterless amirite?
Why would you begin an album with something as sedentary as You Will Know? Why wouldn't you kick things off with a more engaging song? Oh I know BECAUSE THERE AREN'T ANY.
This album is painful to listen to. I groaned out loud as I suffered through yet another round of two minute codas where the track goes on a four second loop and Stevie mutters and vamps aimlessly, and the truly awful drum sounds are just the nail in the coffin. The sound of an artist running on fumes if not entirely exhausted, Characters may be Stevie's lowest point. I doubt I'm alone in thinking this given that here is where mass audiences jumped off the Stevie-train (mostly flocking to Prince who was just coming off a run of albums that blew Stevie out of the water - and Stevie impersonates Prince on Galaxy Paradise so it seems he was aware).
The sins of the past two albums are doubled down on: interminably long songs (why the hell is With Each Beat Of My Heart SIX MINUTES LONG?), corny and dated production (In Your Corner's tinny synths sound cheap and childish), and a general tendency towards being relentlessly repetitive (Skeletons). Not even a duet with Michael Jackson (Get It) which should have been a big deal, can generate much excitement. Stevie can still sing well - he's rather affecting on You Will Know - but musically this is foot-dragging and pulseless. A genuinely hard to get through fifty minute slog.


Lejink Oct 03 2019 Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic (5)

It’s kinda hard for me to go back to some of Stevie’s 80’s albums as I remember listening to them on original release fervently hoping he would rediscover his glorious muse of the 70’s only to be disappointed every time. But maybe I’m judging these records too harshly, after all I’m measuring them against one of the bes- ever runs of record releases by any artist anytime and if Stevie couldn’t match up to his glorious past, he wouldn’t be the first 60’s or 70’s major artist to similarly fail. Better then perhaps to compare these latter-day releases with what was going on at around the same time, after all nobody else in the 80’s with the exception of Prince was getting close to “Inner Visions” or “Songs In The Key Of Life” either.

So where does that leave “Characters” then? Well, it was trailed by the political tract single “Skeletons” over a suitably skeletal would-be funky beat but try as it might, it can’t attain the higher ground of “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” which did a similar task more successfully on the “Fulfillingness First Finale” album.

There are some good tracks here however especially “One Of A Kind” with it’s danceable groove, the call-out to contemporary South Africa “Dark ‘n’ Lovely” despite its cringeworthy title, “Cryin’ Through The Night” has a busy fluidity about it while, “With Each Beat Of My Heart” is a pretty old-school Wonder ballad, unfortunately featuring a distracting whispered breath effect and “Free” makes for an understated but effective album closer rising to prominence over a simple percussive motif.

Elsewhere “You Will Know” is an overripe, over-preachy message number, which picks on single parents as a special case for God’s help for some reason, there’s a tuneless, overlong duet with Michael Jackson “Get It” where Jacko’s trademark “Owww!” near the end sounds like an exercise in resuscitation more than enthusiasm, a thin, childish throwaway “In Your Corner” and an uneasy match up with the big beat “Galaxy Paradise”.

What I find perplexing is that around this time Wonder was performing in concerts a to-this-day unreleased new track called “Good Light” a percussive, hypnotic wonder which shreds everything else here and would have given the album a boost.

As it is, there’s little here that could be grouped with his stellar past, but when he’s good he’s still good, it’s just that his undoubted brilliance of the 70’s appears to have left him. He is trying hard to recapture it but the problem is you can hear him trying.


Dick_B1 Feb 13 2016 Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic (6)

Check it out. It's not as bad as it looks.

I used to be pretty hard on this album for whatever reason - mainly because I had an aversion for cheesy '80s synth and drum machine. Instrumentally there's definitely something left to be desired from this album and much of Stevie's other work in the '80s. The production sounds bland and dated and there's this huge aura of superficiality around it. It's lacking a certain soulfulness. So with a cursory listen, it is very easy to dismiss this album as trash.

But it isn't. That is, if you're willing to look beyond some of the dated production and cliche lyrics. Stevie's ability to make lovely melodies was still up there with the best of them in '87. And he was still a tremendously soulful and charismatic singer.

For all its gooey sappiness, "With Each Beat of My Heart" is a beautiful ballad with wonderful harmonies that I could see many R&B groups in '90s taking notes from. "Crying Through the Night," which Stevie originally wrote in the '70s, gets a shinier and sped up treatment, but it still sounds pretty good. And "My Eyes Don't Cry" could easily be viewed as being in the tradition of Stevie's other funk jams like "You Haven't Done Nothin'" and *gasp* "Superstition." The main problem is that he didn't play it on the clavinet.

That's ultimately the story of this album, the execution. Many of the songs here are good, but not as good as they could be. You're constantly thinking about how much better it would have been if it were made a decade or so earlier. When it comes to R&B music, nobody produced music at the same level as Stevie in the '70s. So with that precision missing, it is easy to see why Characters is an often disregarded album in Stevie's oeuvre.


KildareJohn Apr 25 2015 Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic (7)

'With Each Beat of My Heart' may not ascend to his primary mode of carnal/emotional communication but at least it tries to lift 'Characters' above its mass of convenient, typically 1987, dross. Dueting with Michael Jackson might have won some street-cred in 1983, four years later it smacks of desperation, even 80s political themes sound jaded and forced despite what Stevie could and indeed should, have made of them. No willing sign of any return to form, 'Characters' - take your place in bargain bin Hell.


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Characters by Stevie Wonder - RYM/Sonemic? ›

Stevie tends to be diplomatic, accommodating, and naturally supportive of others. As a Type Two, Stevie tends to be generous, altruistic, and empathetic. Stevie is likely a hardworking and motivated person with a drive to connect with the world. As an ISFP, Stevie tends to be creative, unconventional, and empathetic.

What are Stevie characteristics? ›

Stevie tends to be diplomatic, accommodating, and naturally supportive of others. As a Type Two, Stevie tends to be generous, altruistic, and empathetic. Stevie is likely a hardworking and motivated person with a drive to connect with the world. As an ISFP, Stevie tends to be creative, unconventional, and empathetic.

Who was inspired by Stevie Wonder? ›

Through collaboration, mentoring, or inspiration, Stevie Wonder has had an influence on musicians from the 70s onward. Drake, Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, Janelle Monet, Erykah Badu, Lauren Hill, Tupac, Common, Musiq Soulchild, John Legend, Michael Jackson and Snoop Dogg are just a few.

How does rym work? ›

In a nutshell, Rate Your Music works by allowing users to create accounts and submit ratings and reviews for albums, artists and songs in its database. You search for an album you like, add it to your collection, and leave a rating and a review (if you want) – simple.

Is Stevie Wonder a prodigy? ›

Stevie Wonder, original name Stevland Hardaway Judkins, also called Stevland Hardaway Morris, (born May 13, 1950, Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.), American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, a child prodigy who developed into one of the most creative musical figures of the late 20th century.


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