Sunday, September 20, 2015

Steve Winwood: Arc of a Diver

Not everyone cares for the music from Steve Winwood's extraordinarily successful solo career in the 1980s.

Take J. Temperance:
Winwood’s vacuous hymns to hedonism and the “finer things” the aging rich can afford are, in their way, nearly as offensive and excoriating as the hallucinatory violence Bateman imagines visiting on the world of superficial splendor within which he has imprisoned himself. This is music that can only be enjoyed by someone who is dead inside.
Winwood maintains that his music in that decade did what he has always done - bring together influences from the blues, folk, jazz and beyond - but was given a sheen by his producers that has not aged well.

If you want to explore this period of his career, I can recommend a video that has reappeared on Youtube recently. It is of a concert he gave at the Royal Albert Hall in 1988 (and there are nods to Blind Faith, Traffic and the Spencer Davis Group even here).

Winwood would have been 40 that year, but appears absurdly youthful. I have seen it written that when he turned up to film for MTV he looked like any other artist of the era. Except that he was asked into their inner sanctum by the starstruck producers rather than moved round with a cattle prod.

Anyway, this is the title track from Winwood's first LP of the 1980s. The words are by the great Viv Stanshall and, perhaps because of that, it still sounds good today (even with those synthesisers).

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