Sunday, April 25, 2021

Steve Winwood: (I'm a) Road Runner

Chris Welch's biography of Steve Winwood - titled Keep on Running in the UK and Roll With it in the US - identifies the Albert Hall concert organised by Ronnie Laine in aid of the multiple sclerosis charity ARMS as an important step of his re-emergence as a solo artist in the 1980s:

The first signs of Winwood stepping back into the spotlight and the high life came when he toured with his new band for the first time in 1983. Later he appeared on the unique ARMS charity shows  held in the autumn of that year.

Maybe he was stung by critics who had described his career as "low key and patchy" or perhaps he sensed that the years were slipping away. At any rate when Steve played the ARMS shows he gave an impressive display of confidence that had not been seen since The Spencer Davis Group days, but had slowly evaporated into self-effacement during he years hiding behind a massive Hammond organ with Traffic.

The line up that night was extraordinary, including all three Yardbirds guitarists - Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page - but Welch reckons:

While the crowds rose to their feet to pay homage to legendary figures back in action, the more discerning noted that the best, most accomplished performance came from a still youthful Steve Winwood, upstaging his elders, just as he had in the sixties!

(I'm a) Road Runner was originally a hit for Junior Walker and the Allstars. Winwood's own Roll With It bears a resemblance to it - so much so that the Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland now have a writing credit on Winwood's song.

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