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VOLUME 17, sent December 19, 1995

I'm changing the format of this slightly.  In the past, I cut-and-pasted the posts
into my Digest template in the order I received them.  This time I'm
experimenting with putting them into threads and noting the author in the table
of contents.  It's a tad more work for me, but if everyone likes it, I'll continue it.
Please let me know what you think.

Topics in this issue:

RE:  'REACH FOR THE LIGHT'
  1.  THEMIX945@aol.com (Chris)
  2.  gabb.anthony.a@bhp.com.au (Anthony)
  3.  vankirks@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu (Shannon)
  4.  pjrosano@ix.netcom.com (Paul)

RE:  BLIND FAITH BOOTS
  5.  HarveyP708@aol.com (Judy)
  6.  RRopek@aol.com (Dan)
  7.  pjrosano@ix.netcom.com (Paul)

A NEWBIE'S NOTE
  8.  RSMarcolin@aol.com (Bob)

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From:             THEMIX945@aol.com (Chris)
Date sent:       Sun, 10 Dec 1995 18:37:24

In response to Matt Grey who wrote:

" "Reach for the Light" sucks (I'm surprised it's not a commercial for GE) As
much as I hate to admit it, the new Steve Winwood song "Reach for the Light"
is really embarassing. Why would such a supremely talented musician put out
something that even VH-1 might turn down for being too VH-1.  It's boring,
sappy and uninspired, although his voice is as good as ever."

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, first off there is a thousand
different reason's he would do a song like this.  (Here's a few..)

1.  It's a children's movie...lighten up!  If you noticed, besides it being a Steven
Speilberg cartoon - some of his pals are involved with voices, ie, Phil Collins,
Bob Hoskins etc.  Plus the song is produced with kids' voices, do you think if he
was really looking for a hit - he'd put them in there?  I don't think he really
thought of "single" here.

2.  HE DIDN'T WRITE IT!  He just sang it.

3.  He's got kids...may have just been "fun" for him to be associated with a
cartoon. Billy Joel did it (Oliver and Company) as well as Huey Lewis.  Look at
the Disney smashes (Elton) and even Randy Newman w/Lyle Lovett have a
song for "Toy Story".  That was also sent out to radio - but do you think they
thought that when they recorded it?

4.  It's also a good way to stay out of the "where are they now" files.  Look at
how many movie songs Phil Collins puts out in between cd's.

I only say this stuff when people are right away putting down what artists do.
Why must everything be "popular"?  Just because you don't like a song - that
means he's in a slump?  The Traffic thing was a little dissapointing to me as
well - only because I like Steve's later solo stuff, and would rather have had him
concentrate on a good solo project as opposed to the Traffic
sound, but at least the record companies are still giving him the benefit to allow
him the freedom to release what is what he is feeling.  Some labels would've
given up after a cd or 2 stop selling as well.  He's not gonna write another
"Back In the High Life" - but at least you can be sure he still has the talent to
come pretty close.  Don't give up on the guy!  The song is from a kids movie,
and from that perspective - I think it serves its purpose.


2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2

Date sent:       Mon, 11 Dec 95 14:24:53
From:             Anthony Gabb 

There has been some rather negative feedback so far to the new single.  I
haven't even heard the song as it hasn't been released in Australia yet but what
needs to be considered is the source of the song.

You can't say it is not vintage Winwood etc. etc.,  because he didn't write it (or
contribute to its writing) - he has merely lent his talents to producing a theme
song for an animated film.  This by definition requires a certain type of song
which inevitably is more "commercial" in sound due to the nature of the film.

I'll wait to listen to the whole of the new material on the forthcoming album
before passing judgement.

Anthony


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Date sent:       Tue, 12 Dec 1995 15:26:15
From:             vankirks@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu (Shannon)

Bobbie writes:
"SW's popularity has taken a pretty sharp downturn since 'Roll With It'. . .This
latest single is NOT going to re-establish his popularity, and will probably add
to the shouts of 'sell-out'. . .He has to *know* that this single is not going to
earn him any street cred.  But he did it anyway. . .Isn't this the opposite of
selling-out?  He will make the kind of music that seems right to him now; and
those people who criticize him, essentially, for not making bigger and better
Low Spark's, seem pretty arrogant and petrified to me. Or am I rationalizing
heavily?"

AND
From: MATTGREY@aol.com
  [quoted above, so not repeated.   -BG]

In reply, here's my 2 cents worth:
Let's all relax and look at this single for what it is, not for what it isn't.  We
were expecting a new Steve Winwood single; what we got was a single from a
movie project on which Steve guests.

Visit the Balto Web page that Bobbie mentioned in the Digest and it becomes
clear that this is a big-time (Spielberg) movie project with music written by a
friend of Steve's who kept him in mind when someone said, "Now we need a
good inspirational voice for the theme song."

Steve did not write this song.  It is not a Steve Winwood song.  He produced the
track exactly the way an inspirational movie theme MUST be produced--on
movie projects you usually have almost no room to move.  The Producer and
Director want what they want.  Period.  (Having said that, I will also add that
the song is beautifully produced.  It's just not a Steve Winwood or a Traffic
record.)

Should he have agreed to do this project?  I'd say that's pretty much up to him!

Considerations:
1)  To be practical, making records is a very expensive activity.  If any artist
wants to continue making records year after year, (s)he has to broaden the fan
base continually and maintain at least a bit of commercial credibility.  Look
what happened to Steve in the 70s:  he took some time off (to recover from a
near-death health crisis and to broaden his life to encompass more than
record/tour then record/tour/record/tour again.)  As vibrant an artist as he still
was and as much as some of us loved his first solo album (for me it was the
only life-raft in a dismal sea of disco and punk), he had lost his fan base, was
out of touch, and the record stiffed.

2)  Musically, I am glad every time I hear Steve do something that isn't a
rehash of his old stuff (as wonderful as that stuff is!).  His roots will always be
obvious in his music, but he would be a fool to try to write the same songs over
and over.  Yes, Matt, he played such kick-*ss guitar on his last two tours that I
would dearly love to see his next album celebrate his incredible guitar playing
so he could stop being my favorite _under-rated_ player.  ("Reach For the
Light"  is not a solo project, however, and the film-folk would have been the
first to tell him this.)

3)  He (and WE) are in a different place than we were 20 years ago.  My life is
better now and getting even better every day, and -- from the sound of it -- so is
his.  I'm glad his music acknowledges this.  Every new album shows me
incredible craftsmanship and style, entertains me, rocks me, and speaks to me
as an adult.  He is still my composer of choice for writing the soundtrack to my
life.

And I, for one, eagerly await a new Steve Winwood record after the Balto
False-Alert.

Cheers,
--Shannon


4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4

Date sent:       Fri, 15 Dec 1995 09:09:52
From:             pjrosano@ix.netcom.com (Paul Rosano)

MATTGREY@aol.com wrote:
  [quoted above, so not repeated.   -BG]

        With due respect, I beg to differ. "Reach For The Light" was written by
one of the legendary songwriting teams of our time, sung by one of the best
rock voices ever, and has an inspired performance. Having said that, I was not
knocked out by it the first time I heard it. My first reaction was this was
something along the lines of Winwood's "Lion King." But on
subsequent listenings, I started to appreciate it. There are many other songs of
his I prefer, but it's not inconsistent at all with his body of work. It shows his
versatility. An artist would be boring himself and his audience if he only
produced music in one narrow genre.
        Also, it displays his skills as a producer. It's no easy trick
producing a track that has such a complex musical arrangement with such
clarity.
        We are, however, in agreement on tunes such as "In The Light Of Day,"
which you mentioned in your post. In fact, when we saw him on the Refugees
tour in Hartford in 1991, it was one of the show's highlights. The concert was
perhaps my favorite of the Winwood shows I've seen because it showed just
what I mentioned above - the variety in his music and musicianship. That was,
it appears, the first time during his solo career of the '80s and early '90s that he
devoted so much time in a concert to Traffic material. Capaldi came out and
joined him on several tunes. The mix of material was perfect - early solo, High
Life material and the extended Traffic set in the middle of the show. It showed
his complete range, which is considerable.


5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5*5

From:             HarveyP708@aol.com
Date sent:       Sun, 10 Dec 1995 20:33:09

In a message dated 95-12-10, Terry Kroetsch wrote:

"Questions: Is the boxed set the only way to get the electric Can't Find My Way
Home? Is there other BF material? Is there BF stuff on any Clapton collections?
"

I already posted the information about Blind Dominos in the last Digest. In
addition to that, Further on Up the Crossroads (a Clapton bootleg) contains two
excellent tracks from Blind Faith - Change of Address ( described as very rare
promo instrumental single sent by Island Records to notify their change of
address) and Can't Find My Way Home (complete electric version previously
heard only on Up Close US Radio Show). The bad news is that this is on disc
one of a four disc boxed set - though if anyone is interested in rare or
unreleased material from Clapton, this set is probably the best overview
available.

judy


6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6*6

From:             RRopek@aol.com
Date sent:       Wed, 13 Dec 1995 18:17:47

Although described by Paul Rosano in Vol. 15 as being for "completists" only, I
must kindly disagree.  If you read "Smiling Phases" you probably already
qualify as a completist, and I believe that the material from the Morgan studio
rehearsals is crucial to filling in some of the gaps in the pre-lp phase of Blind
Faith's brief career.  In fact, according to none other than Eric Clapton, the
rehearsals may be closer to the original intent of the band than the official
product:

E.C. : "It (Blind Faith) had a lot of different stages.  When we started
rehearsing, for instance, it was a different band.  It was just me and Steve and
other people that we had around, and it was so completely different, almost a
jazz thing, and when we started recording it changed again, and then when we
went onto stage it was already over somehow.  The heart, the core of what
Blind Faith could have done was all wrapped up in the time before we were
actually exposed." (Rolling Stone, 10/15/70)

Thus, for better or for worse, the Morgan rehearsal tapes - variously described
as being recorded in March, April or May of 1969 - are the only body of
recordings from the early, formative era to surface (so far).  Actually, there is
not a great deal of unreleased or rare studio material from any era around.
Besides the tracks previously described, .i.e., "Exchange and Mart", "Spending
All My Days", "Change of Address", and the material on Clapton's and
Winwood's box sets, I've only heard of one other outtake - an instrumental
version of "Presence of the Lord".  This is derived from a rather poor sounding
fm broadcast (Swedish, I believe), and while interesting, the track is not
significantly different in structure from the released version.

The Morgan tapes are on a different path altogether.  The main value to the
collector may lie in how this material uncovers the superimposition of
possibilities of what Blind Faith could have become.  The music is like a tangle
of unsorted threads, leading in different directions - blues, jazz, African
rhythmns, sustained jamming, Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Holly - all flow around
each other in the 150 minutes of preserved material.

Also notable is what is not yet there.  Crucial components that helped to define
the Blind Faith lp; Winwood's rich vocals and excellent songs, Clapton and
Winwoods acoustic guitars, and probably a member of the band - Rick Grech,
are all absent.  The lack of these elements leaves in essense a "power trio" of
Clapton/Winwood/Baker, exploring territory that is unique to all
three.  It is fascinating to ponder where this could have gone is the conditions
had been slightly different.

True enough, this isn't all great material.  There are some maddenly shaky
and/or repetitious moments (they were rehearsing, after all).  Also, there are a
couple of outright fakes on the cd's - two tracks recorded by Clapton/Page in
1965 !   Still, there is much to enjoy, and with a little judicious editing to tape
there is about 90 minutes worth of fascinating listening.

In the next Volume, I'll post a track by track review of the cd's for those
interested - Dan


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Date sent:       Fri, 15 Dec 1995 09:09:52
From:             pjrosano@ix.netcom.com (Paul Rosano)

Terry Kroetsch asked:
  [quoted above, so not repeated.   -BG]

        The electric version of "Can't Find My Way Home" can also be found on a
promo CD that was quite available just before and when the box set was first
released. It may still be out there. It's the first track on that CD, which contains
15 cuts. The disc is quite good. It was selling for about $20 at the time. The
disc also has the EC & The Powerhouse version of "Crossroads."  Winwood's
vocal on that is raw power on the order of the original "Gimme Some Lovin."
        In addition, the box contains two live tracks from the Hyde Park concert,
"Sleeping In The Ground" and "Under My Thumb" and two tracks from the
studio album, "Sea Of Joy" and "Had To Cry Today." Clapton's "Crossroads"
box set contains the studio version of "Sleeping In The Ground"  - very nice.


8*8*8*8*8*8*8*8*8*8*8*8*8

From:             RSMarcolin@aol.com
Date sent:       Tue, 12 Dec 1995 16:57:23

I just want to say how thrilled I am that there are others who are as moved by
Steve's music as I am.  I purchased his biography "Roll With It" back in March
and finished it the night I bought it (it wasn't the hardest read though!). I
caught my first Winwood concert back in June 1991 at Great Woods (with Joe
Cocker...a super show) and I saw him last year with Mr. Capaldi and Traffic at
the Ball Park at Old Orchard Beach, ME and I was blown away!  I didn't
realise that he was as great a guitarist as he is.  I'm hoping that someone can
tell me if there will be anymore Traffic projects or if Steve has any tour plans
for the future because he IS getting up there in age after all!  (Just kidding to
the over 40 crowd)  Actually, I'm 22 and Steve's music has inspired me to take
up the piano after being instrumentally ignorant to this point.  I don't think
you'll see me in the record stores soon, but I'm gaining a whole new
appreciation for Mr. Winwood's music.
Anyway, I think this forum is super and I look forward to learning
more.......Bob


[From one 'Bob' to another, welcome!!   -BG]

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END OF SMILING PHASES, VOL 17