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VOLUME J7-2, sent June 16, 1997
(Second set of reactions to the album _Junction 7_)

Contributors in this issue:
  1. jsantoro@sasipos.com (Jack Santoro)
  2. Operanut@aol.com
  3. link255@juno.com (Michael W Carner)
  4. PETER NUTTALL 
  5. "Elena Iglio" 
  6. ASchulberg@aol.com
  7. "ken gay" 

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1*1*1*1*1*1*1*1*1*1*1*1*1
From: jsantoro@sasipos.com (Jack Santoro)

Here are my Entries:

1 - Spy in the House of Love
2 - Real Love
3 - Gotta Get Back To My Baby

When I first listened to the CD I did not know how to feel about it. But then I
listened to the CD a couple more times and I started to like it. It think it's
because it's so different than anything he has done to date.  Anyway, the way I
look at it is I'm just glad to hear any new music from SW, even though it might
not be as great as BitHL!

Jack

[Ellie had asked:
1 - What is your favourite J7 track?
2 - Which one do you like least?
3 - What is hopefully showing us Steve's future direction, if any on this album?]


2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2
From: Operanut@aol.com

I ran out and got J-7 and have only listened once.

My first impression is that the tempi are too monotonous.  No slow stuff, even
though I like his high energy stuff from "Roll With It" and "Back in the High
Life" much better with cool horn riffs, spiffy Hammond riffs, etc.

Frank Zappa said in his autobiography "The Real Frank Zappa Book"   And I
quote, page 159:

"The most important innovation in recent rock technology is  a naughty little
appliance sold in various shapes and sizes, under an assortment of brand
names, referred to generically as a 'drum box' or 'rhythm machine.'  This device
is used by people with diagonal zippers on their clothes to provide the inflexible
rhythms and obnoxious artificial hand claps that cause Americans to make the
dancer face...Before the emergence of this wondrous tool, record producers
worried that the tempo of their hit records would drift maybe a little faster on
the chorus when everybody was banging it out -- maybe a little slower when the
"I love You" comes in -- a terrible problem which in the long long ago, led to
take after take during the recording session to capture a single performance
with JUST THE RIGHT GROOVE.

"But this is the Eighties (Phewww) --we're modern now, and studio time is
more expensive.  We can't be waiting around for 'just the right groove.'  We
need that sumbitch in a hurry ... "

I rest my case.  Zappa said it so much more colorfully than I could but we all
know he was talking about the homogenization of music.  Oh well, John
Lennon said he went thru his "Fat Elvis" period during the making of Help!  I
guess we could say that Paul went thru his "Fat Otis" period producing elevator
music for years and is now getting back into real rock with "Flaming Pie",
having had his cage rattled by the release of all the wonderful stuff on the
Anthologies.

We need some adagio (slow) as well as some allegro con brio (Fast with force)
stuff!!

I imagine this is due to Narada being a new age type and I agree with the
argument of contemporary R&B not being real R&B but a homogenized
descendant of Motown.  Steve's blue-eyed British soul which has a long and
honorable tradition deserves better lyrics and more imaginative arrangements
and production.  And I hate reading the %$#@ lyrics on that satin finish hard
to  read paper!! I am extremely nearsighted, but even with my glasses off at a
distance of about 4 inches, it's still incredibly hard to read -- but the demise of
great cover art and great liner notes is another subject for another day.

Well, thanks for listening and I will check in with later thoughts if possible,
Sharon Gray


3*3*3*3*3*3*3*3*3*3*3*3*3
From: link255@juno.com (Michael W Carner)

I admit to being a passive member of SP, so I'll start by telling you that I'm one
of the younger fans, a mere 21 years old, and that my first experience was Roll
With It, but I have since expanded to Traffic and Blind Faith as well.

Onto the new album.  I don't think an artist should sound the same on every
record, and I believe that J7 is a definite change for SW (track 7 for instance).
It was interesting to experience the collaboration with NMW and Mrs.
Winwood.  I suppose we all had high hopes, some of which were met and some
of which were not.  I was hoping for some "harder" Winwood,  an album that
could add more to what I had heard with "Spy."  As mentioned by other SP
members, I agree that he is appealing to an older audience and that the songs
are definitely softer.  I haven't yet experienced much of what the album is
about, true love between a man and a woman (husband and wife), to fully
appreciate the record.  Did anyone else notice that the word 'love' is in ALL of
the tracks?  I think that breaks the record set by Clapton's Journeyman.
Another point, if he is going to do a number which contains the phrase
"Gimme______Lovin'" the blank should be filled with "Some."  Plenty is too
much, I only want Some.  I would have liked more of a mix, so I'm glad to hear
the tour encompasses his entire career.  I'll end with this note.  I bought my
disc and single on the 3rd at 6pm and I was the FIRST one to buy either at a
music store here in Columbus (Ohio).

Mike


4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4
From: PETER NUTTALL 

Well, I've given the album a good long listen. Initially, it's not my sort of music
so it took a bit of getting used to, which also makes me a bit reserved about the
album in general. I don't like the production, I find a lot of it sounds very
shallow, with the girl chorus weak and over used. I probably wouldn't buy/listen
to this if it wasn't Steve Winwood.

It's disappointing that Steve's instrumental contribution is so limited and this
reflects on a number of the songs lacking depth. I can't believe he thinks he's
not up to playing this sort of stuff, we all know how talented he is, so giving a
large slice of the sound to NMW and friends was always going to have a huge
effect on the finished product. I think a lot of this album misses the musical
subtleties that Steve's playing brings to his songs, enriching them. The style of
music aside, this is my main gripe with this album, I just wish he'd played a lot
more.

I'm not sure NMW was the best choice for this project, the sound is not
particularly strong or anything special, it doesn't really launch Steve's voice. I
don't know why the album is being geared towards the R&B market, I don't see
that Steve has much to gain or prove in that area, he did his bit, except for
commercial success. Even this could only be temporary, will a fifty year old
white English singer finally get the broad ranging recognition his music
deserves? While I wish Steve every success with the new album, I hope it's not
a sign of things to come. This could easily be my least played Winwood album.

I like Angel of Mercy, this sounds to me like it could have come off Talking
Back to the Night, probably my favourite song. Lord of the Street comes over to
me as the strongest number on the album, a pity about the girl chorus over the
piano at the end, this is probably a really good number live. Just Wanna Have
Some Fun is the most successful production, a really catchy tune and one where
the backing sound is good. For the rest I find it all much of the same, not much
variety, except for Gotta Get Back which I dislike the most. He sounds in good
voice, but I've come to expect that.

I guess I'm just going to have to wait another two or three years for the next
album!

Peter


5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5
From: "Elena Iglio" 

Here's a line or two I would love to write after reading the first comments
regarding J7. I noticed that more than a SP subscriber wished Steve to find
Traffic style and inspiration again and go back to the good old times of yore....
Well, you know how much I love Traffic - everybody on SP knows it by now -
and yes, even that I prefer Far from Home and the "English" Winwood to the
"American" one, but I frankly think it's pointless to wish Steve could go back
and do another John Barleycorn or recreate the Traffic magic. Apart from the
fact that, like most "mythical" bands Traffic was the product of a special
alchemy that leads four (should I say three? Well, I'll say four for Steve
McDougall's sake) different people to find themselves there in the right place
and at the right time, according to that moment in history and  culture - the
hippy era - that allowed creativity and experimenting free from market
pressure, and that without any of those elements  you CAN'T have them back,
as Far From Home clearly showed; while being a great record on its own it was
NOT John Barleycorn nor any other  original Traffic album - the main reason
for an Artist to go SOLO is that this way he can express himself the way he will
never be able to do in a group!

I felt that, apart from the eponymous album, Steve's solo work never brought
any striking resemblance to Traffic, and that this is what he wanted!! I mean,
nobody expected to find Traffic again in Jim's or Dave's solo albums! There
were certain sides of Steve that found expression in Traffic music, and those
times are GONE forever. It was a magical moment - and it's there for us every
time we want to listen to it:

That is the reason for which I salute Winwood's Cuban-oriented experiment
and want to see him PROGRESS towards different kinds of expression, less
market-oriented, and not looking back to his past! There are already two
albums by Steve with the word "BACK" in the title, and he has been well
teased about it. Let's see him go FORWARD from now on. 'Scuse the lengthy
post.

Love to all and sundry,
Ellie


6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6
From: ASchulberg@aol.com

<< However, I think this album does have a serious problem.  One of  the
things which has irritated me most in contemporary music is the perversion of
the term "rhythm and blues."  The original and correct meaning of this term is
black (ie. blues and jazz)-influenced rock & roll.  However, today R&B is
basically used as a catch-all label for modern black pop music. ...  Modern
"R&B" however really refers to syrupy, sappy pop music performed by black
 artists (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, etc.). ..  I think that unfortunately the
double use of the term may be confusing to some people, and may result in the
belief that there is a natural link or progression musically from traditional to
modern R&B.  And that (I believe) is the problem with J7--Our Hero has
strayed away from his true roots in traditional R&B and has to an extent
stumbled into modern "R&B."  He has to an extent mixed the two forms.

 I lay the blame for this problem at the feet of our dear friend Narada.  Not only
has he overproduced the album, but far more significantly he has led Our Hero
astray from his true calling--creating new traditional R&B. >>

Steve Seim has hit the nail exactly on the head, at least as far as I am
concerned. Steve Winwood is a rock and roll legend because of the soulfulness
of his voice. Even (or should that be "especially") at age 15 he burst on the
scene, a young kid with the soul and sound of a middle aged Ray Charles. And
now to have it come to this?

Every once in a while on J7 you can hear the old Steve trying to break through
the syrupy production but he's caught like a bug in amber. I know not every
song Steve does is gonna stomp like Gimme Some Lovin' or Roll With It. Hell,
John Barleycorn is quiet but certainly expressive and moving in ways large
parts of J7 aren't.

Sorry, folks, but in some spots this sounds like Peabo Winwood, not our Steve.

I just hope that live performances will enhance these songs.

Arnie Schulberg


7*7*7*7*7*7*7*7*7*7*7*7*7
From: "ken gay" 

NEWS FLASH

Music Industry Insider reveals that Steve Winwood's latest recording, Junction
7, contains experimental subliminal audio information intended to modify
mood and perception.  Subconsciously perceptible information, encoded  as
subharmonic pendulant distortions placed between the bits on a CD, affect
endorphin and adrenaline production in real-time, producing a virtual concert
of hormones.

This experiment, intended to enhance listening enjoyment, has produced some
surprising results between Type A and Type B individuals (as defined by how
you roll your toothpaste tube).

Type A listeners (careful tube rollers) become irritable and critical, reacting as
if they had just been forced to hear several hours of Tom Jones.  They lash out
in anger and disgust and let all around know of their disapproval and
displeasure.  A good stiff drink is indicated by the literature.

Type B listeners (tube squeezers) become mindless and  giddy.  An animated
bliss is typically experienced.  No remedy has been discovered for this effect,
though it can be somewhat countered by listening to Alanis Morrisette.

Our source also claims that if you play the CD track "Spy ..." backwards, the
following message can clearly be heard:

"Music is for listening, not for endless critical analysis and weak comparisons
to pure 'genres'."

Our source, being a music industry critic, says he has no idea what the artist or
producers meant by this statement.

**************************
Additional comments:

The only genres I can think of that remain unchanged after 40 or so years of
rock and roll are lounge music and the blues.  All others have mutated,
combined, gotten too pretty, too ugly, with the end result that attempting to
speak of new music in terms like R&B can only be done in a historical sense.

Traffic is history.  R&B is history.  Let them go.  No one can take your old
albums and CDs away - they are special things, enjoy them.  To expect
someone with Winwood's skills to stay "true" to a particular style is unrealistic
and cruel.  He'd probably have stopped making music years ago. Would we still
listen him if he were cranking out Ray's back catalog?

Too bad about over-production.  But, personally, I think this is the most
listenable and fun album in many years.  That's right, listenable.  OH NO!  Isn't
that a genre?

Sincerely,
Ken Gay

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END OF SMILING PHASES, VOL J7-2