Macy Gray Re-Imagining Stevie Wonder's 'Talking Book'
Is it possible for an artist to remake an album, just as directors create updated versions of older films? Macy Gray appears to be doing this with Stevie Wonder’s classic Talking Book. However, as nearly everyone is aware, remaking can either lead to a better picture, or one that’s so subpar it’s forgotten or, worse, reviled. If Gray remakes, or “re-imagines,” Talking Book, could it simply stand alone as an interpretation or a tribute, or will the album be the musical equivalent of Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake?
Why did Gray decide to take on this project? In an email to Billboard, she said: "It's one of my favorite albums. I've never heard a whole album remake before. Thought I'd try one …"
Gray’s version of Talking Book comes out on October 30 and celebrates the original’s 40-year anniversary. Gray, who calls her interpretation a “love letter” rather than a tribute, worked with producer Hal Willner.
This release, which comes out on 429 Records/Savoy Label Group, is not Gray’s first release of covers. Earlier in 2012, she put out the aptly-titled Covered, in which she performed versions of songs by Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and other artists. Covered was her first release of 429.
The original Talking Book came out October 28, 1972 and featured songs “Sunshine of My Life” and “Superstition.” Doing well on the pop and R&B charts at the time, Talking Book netted Wonder three Grammy awards.
What do you think about Gray re-imagining Wonder’s classic album? Should other artists consider such projects, or is this a major career misstep?
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