CityLink OnLine, September, 1997
Like Robert Palmer, Steve Winwood’s musical career has a Jekyll-and-Hyde road map. The keyboardist-guitarist was a charter member of the Spencer Davis Group as a teenager (that’s him torching the lead vocal on "Gimme Some Lovin’ "), and it was during this time that guitarist Jimi Hendrix
requested his services (that’s Winwood holding his own on Hammond organ as he trades with Hendrix on "Voodoo Chile," from the latter’s Electric Ladyland). And I haven’t even mentioned his seminal rock group Traffic yet, but Winwood’s upcoming show will probably focus on the overproduced solo second half of his 30-year recording career - "Back in the High Life," "Roll With It," "When You See a Chance."
Jerry: Winwood has come farther into the mainstream than you would expect considering his impeccable heritage but his voice is so mesmerizing that it doesn’t matter. I’ll take the above-mentioned songs and his first solo hit in ‘82 "Talking Back to the Night," as top-notch concert material. You call it overproduced, I call it solid hit making.
Bill: Winwood’s a terrific all-around musician, but he hasn’t been a solo entity for most of his career like Palmer has. I doubt the upcoming solo show will approach the energy level Winwood provided for the Traffic performance at Woodstock II in ‘94. Traffic was Winwood’s creation and artistic high point; a group that further grayed the areas between rock and jazz in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s with albums like Mr. Fantasy, John Barleycorn Must Die and The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys. To me, the ‘91 Traffic anthology, Smiling Phases, is Winwood’s true "best of" collection.
Jerry: Then I guess you’re not going to be too fond of this tour. Winwood says this about his new album, Junction 7, in a Boston Globe interview: "I tried to take this solo album as far away from Traffic as possible." Sorry, Bill. The new album is what Winwood calls "pop-soul," which sounds like a conglomeration of his solo and very early R&B work. I like the mix, and having Lenny Kravitz playing on a few tracks doesn’t hurt, either. Two other songs were co-written by Winwood and his wife: "Real Love" and "Fill Me Up" (see above love song argument). Sounds like you’ll be home listening to old Traffic albums while Steve croons and I lean over and tell whoever I decide to bring, "Baby, that’s me."
Steve Winwood is playing Friday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $28.75/$37.50 plus your first child, from Ticketmaster.
My thanks to Bill & Jerry for this article, and to Dawn for alerting me to it.
Page created July 2, 2001.
Last updated July 2, 2001.
© 1997 by the author; reproduce only for non-commercial purposes and with full attribution.