Growing up, one record that got played a lot in our house was Stevie Wonder's 1979 double album 'Journey through the Secret Life of Plants'. It's a record that holds a special place in my heart, and always had an air of mystery about it. The 1976 album 'Songs in The Key of Life' is often cited as the high point of Stevie's creative powers, and three years later music lovers were keen to hear what was next - no one was expecting this. 'Journey through...' is a soundtrack for a film called 'Secret Life of Plants'. Half the tracks were instrumental odysseys, the other, strange songs about orchids, fly-traps and power flowers. One track 'Race Babbling' is on the DiscoNections mix below.
Supposedly the album is considered one of the first New Age records, and the braille-embossed gate-fold cover when unsealed and opened for the first time released a flowery perfume. It also contains the first use of a digital sampling synthesizer, the Computer Music Melodian, used in virtually every track of the album. 'Journey' is also generally believed to be the first digitally recorded album.
For years I wondered what the film could be like, and somewhere along the line I thought I heard it never got completed, so that only the record remained. That was wrong - a film was made, and this is it. Unfortunately no restored DVD version exists, but considering I never thought I would see it, this more than makes up for it.
The subject is the conscious nature of plant life, which is a position I have some sympathy with, though the science presented in this isn't exactly tight. If you don't have time to watch the whole thing at least check out the opening 6 minutes, a wonderful instrumental sequence painting the creation of the world - though I do recommend checking the whole mescaline-inspired audio-visual experience. Theres lots of time lapse going on, as it hadn't been done before, and supposedly audiences couldn't get enough. Stevie makes an appearance in the closing minutes. I thought this was timely, what with spring unfolding: