The isolated drum track from ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder

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(Credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot / Alamy)

Music

How many times have you found yourself humming that funky bassline from Stevie Wonder’s hit single “Superstition”? If you’re like me, that’s going to be a hell of a number – this intoxicating riff just refuses to be forgotten. The material is so neat, so perfectly formed, so constantly groovy. In fact, I bet you’re humming it right now – you are, right? Well, just for a moment, I’d like you to forget about the bassline and think about the other instruments at play in this iconic 1972 recording, almost all of which were played by Stevie Wonder himself – but not all of them. the same time. It would be ridiculous. Please calm down.

This beautiful isolated recording of Stevie Wonder’s drum track gives us rare insight into pure dexterity, yes, his musical talent, but also his skills as an arranger and producer. Wonder’s snare sound is, I would say, just as essential a factor in the overall glow of “Superstition” as this iconic bassline. The reason this contagious song has been filling dance floors for so long is that it has a good dose of anacrouse, that is, when a track doesn’t start on a strong impulse, which gives it a plus. great feeling of movement.

Stevie’s Moog bass and keyboard parts, with their syncopated rhythms, are empathetic by the snare’s emphasis on the offbeat, thus increasing the overall groove of ‘Superstition’. Indeed, the rhythm used in this track was the one that many Motown, funk and soul artists relied on in the 1970s and continues to this day. Listen to “Footsteps In The Dark” by The Isley Brother or “Them Changes” by Thundercat and you’ll understand what I mean.

Stevie Wonder originally wrote ‘Superstition’ for guitarist Jeff Beck, whom he asked to contribute to his next album. In return, he would write Beck a hit. Towards the end of a recording session, Beck was playing on the drums when he stumbled across the beat you can hear below. “One day I was sitting on the drums, which I love to play when no one is around, doing that beat,” Beck recalls. “Stevie came boogieing into the studio a bit, ‘Don’t stop’. “Ah, come on, Stevie,” I don’t know how to play the drums. Then the lick came out: ‘Superstition.’ It was my song, in exchange for playing on Talking Book. I was like, ‘He gave me the riff of the century.’ “

That same day, Wonder and Beck recorded a rough demo of the song, and Beck left the studio and began to flesh out the piece for himself. However, it took so long for him to come up with a finished product that, in the meantime, Wonder released his own version and landed the success Beck had been banking on. The guitarist was clearly upset and did some pretty insensitive stuff statements, which Wonder didn’t take too kindly too. “Wonder basically wrote it for me, but the story goes that he liked it a little too much,” Beck told a post. “He played it in Motown, and they said, ‘No way Beck gets this song, that’s too good’ and, since they had a right to say what Stevie released at the time, j lost the song as the original. ”

Bad luck, Jeff.


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