Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Quintessential Winwood

If Steve Winwood sat down and composed a resumé, for certain it would look more like a book manuscript, or one of those call center account learning manuals. Think of it.

The Spencer Davis Group with brother Muff at the tender age of 14.
Co-wrote the classics "I'm A Man," and "Gimme Some Lovin'"
Left SDG to form Traffic, with (the late) Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason and Chris Wood.
Did a one-off group with Eric Clapton, as Eric Clapton's Powerhouse.
Backed up stellar musicians like Joe Cocker (that's him playing the organ on JC's excellent take of the Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends), and Toots & The Maytals, as well as on the Howlin' Wolf Sessions.
Formed the brilliant, yet shortlived Blind Faith, with Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech, then Ginger Bakers Airforce. A brief Traffic reunion ensued, which imploded due to artistic differences, which led Stevie Boy to go the solo route in 1977.
Which brings us up to speed.. so far.

Steve Winwood's unique rise to rock stardom was not one fueled by its glitz and glamor, but rather with its distinct and quintessential musicianship. Whoever it was that Winwood would be performing with, whether as the forerunner, or as backup; chances are, it was nothing short of brilliant.

The new decade seemed to have spelled impending doom for most aging rockers, but Steve Winwood saw his renaissance with Arc Of A Diver.
Taken within the context of his heavy roots in the Blues and R&B-inspired rock, Arc is not exactly the epitome of these influences, rather an evolved offshoot, wherein Winwood conjures an all-new, all-encompassing hybrid, turning something aged (as opposed to old) into something new and refreshing.

Arc Of A Diver is Steve Winwood's finest solo work; literally, as well as objectively. After all, he did play all the instruments, engineering and mixing chores notwithstanding. The breakthrough single "While You See A Chance," in so many words, soared. Its lifting synth intro, awash with melancholic overtones and a sense of hope, helped bring the song as high as #7 on the Billboard Charts.
The title track is a celebration of love, its pitfalls and protestations, yet holding hope near, in the face of jealousy and doubt.
Album tracks are exemplary (the spritely "Spanish Dancer" and brooding "Night Train"), worthy of note. It's certainly a step up from where he left off on Talking Back To The Night.
Uplifting. Inspirational.
Winwood par excellance.


Blogger spanx said...

BUT JEALOUS NIGHT AND ALL HER SECRET CHORDS.... thirty years later, those lyrics still randomly pop into my mind on a very regular monthly basis :)

6:52 PM  

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