8 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The 1980s were defined by high-tech productions specializing in electronic grandeur that made even the quietest songs sound as if they were being transmitted across the universe by laser jet. Pop songs were produced with an ear towards keeping things exciting with hyperactive keyboards and exaggerated electric guitars screaming into the endless night. Steve Winwood had been an earthy experimenter, fusing jazz, folk and psychedelia into his own homegrown rock, most notably with his group Traffic. His solo career began a search for a voice that could stand on its own and he’d hit upon the winning formula with the infectious “While You See A Chance” on his second solo album, Arc of a Diver. With his fourth solo album, Back in the High Life, he hit his jackpot with nominations for six Grammys, winning three. “Higher Love” and the title track came to define the ‘80s bright, plucky style and the remainder of the album continues in this sleek, forward-moving style. “Take It As It Comes,” “Freedom Overspill” and “Split Decision “ are jammed with ramped-up horns, perky keyboards and commanding beats as oversized as the best of the era.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The 1980s were defined by high-tech productions specializing in electronic grandeur that made even the quietest songs sound as if they were being transmitted across the universe by laser jet. Pop songs were produced with an ear towards keeping things exciting with hyperactive keyboards and exaggerated electric guitars screaming into the endless night. Steve Winwood had been an earthy experimenter, fusing jazz, folk and psychedelia into his own homegrown rock, most notably with his group Traffic. His solo career began a search for a voice that could stand on its own and he’d hit upon the winning formula with the infectious “While You See A Chance” on his second solo album, Arc of a Diver. With his fourth solo album, Back in the High Life, he hit his jackpot with nominations for six Grammys, winning three. “Higher Love” and the title track came to define the ‘80s bright, plucky style and the remainder of the album continues in this sleek, forward-moving style. “Take It As It Comes,” “Freedom Overspill” and “Split Decision “ are jammed with ramped-up horns, perky keyboards and commanding beats as oversized as the best of the era.

TITLE TIME
5:51
5:24
5:37
5:35
5:49
5:52
6:00
5:21

About Steve Winwood

Few classic rock artists evolved as subtly—and successfully—as Steve Winwood. A Dixieland fan from Birmingham, England, Winwood joined the R&B trio The Spencer Davis Group when he was only 14 (and even cowrote the timeless rave-up “Gimme Some Lovin’” about a year later), helped found both the pioneering fusion band Traffic and the blues supergroup Blind Faith (with Cream members Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker), and later struck major chart success with a sophisticated take on blue-eyed soul. At the heart of Winwood’s genius is his uncanny ability to synthesize disparate styles into a seamless whole. Listen to Traffic’s 1971 album The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, whose blend of jazz, soul, psychedelia, and English folk set the course for the modern-day jam band, or Winwood’s commercial peak, 1986’s Back in the High Life (featuring the radio-staple title track and the Chaka Khan collaboration “Higher Love”), whose touches of funk and adult pop influenced artists from Sting to Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer. Reflecting on his childhood stint in music school, Winwood said, “I was asked, ‘What kind of music do you like to listen to?’ and I said, ‘Well, I do like Paul Hindemith and Igor Stravinsky, but I also like Fats Domino and Ray Charles,’ and they literally said, ‘Either forget about that or leave.’” He left.

HOMETOWN
Birmingham, England
GENRE
Rock
BORN
May 12, 1948

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