Hotter than July is the nineteenth studio album by American singer, songwriter and musician Stevie Wonder, originally released on Motown’s Tamla label on September 29, 1980. The recording sessions were primarily done at Wonderland Studios, which Wonder had recently acquired, in Los Angeles where he became responsible for writing, producing and arranging his own material for the new album.
Following the commercial and critical disappointment of Wonder’s Journey through the Secret Life of Plants, Wonder felt struggle at the turn of the new decade. He insisted to the media that Journey through the Secret Life of Plants was not as critically acclaimed as his albums during his “classic period” because of Motown’s weak promotion for the album.
Hotter than July peaked at number three on the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 3, 1981. It was Wonder’s most successful album in the UK, peaking at number two on the UK Albums Chart and producing four top ten singles there. The first, third and fourth single were released with music videos.
Hotter than July was nominated for Favorite Soul/R&B Album at the 1982 American Music Awards. Writing for The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), J. D. Considine found the album “buoyantly tuneful” and said fans viewed it as a return to form after the commercial disappointment of Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.
“Did I Hear You Say You Love Me” – 4:07
“All I Do” – 5:06
“Rocket Love” – 4:39
“I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It” – 4:39
“As If You Read My Mind” – 3:37
“Master Blaster (Jammin’)” – 5:07
“Do Like You” – 4:25
“Cash in Your Face” – 3:59
“Lately” – 4:05
“Happy Birthday” – 5:57
Stevie Wonder – vocals, synthesizer, drums, Fender Rhodes, bass guitar, clavinet, background vocals, ARP, vocoder, piano, harpsichord, celeste, keyboards, harmonica, cabasa, percussion, bells, handclaps, flute
Nathan Watts – bass guitar, background vocals
Benjamin Bridges – guitar, background vocals
Dennis Davis – drums on “Did I Hear You Say You Love Me,” “As If You Read My Mind” and “Master Blaster (Jammin’)”
Earl DeRouen – percussion, background vocals
Isaiah Sanders – keyboards, piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, background vocals
Hank Redd – saxophone, handclaps
Robert Malach – saxophone
Larry Gittens, Nolan A. Smith Jr. – trumpet
Paul Riser – string arrangement
Hank DeVito – steel guitar
Rick Zunigar – guitar
Angela Winbush, Mary Lee Whitney Evans, Susaye Greene Brown, Alexandra Brown Evans, Shirley Brewer, Eddie “Bongo” Brown, Charlie Collins, Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, Michael Jackson, Jamil Raheem, Betty Wright, Ronnie J. Wilson, Charles K. Wilson, Syreeta Wright, Marva Holcolm, Melody McCulley, Delores Barnes – background vocals
Stephanie Andrews, Bill Wolfer, Trevor Lawrence, Dennis Morrison, Kimberly Jackson – handclaps