Steve Winwood – Back In The High Life

This is a recent vinyl score, and man am I ever glad I bought this.

I had this on tape when I was a kid, and played it a lot. There’s something exceedingly… musical about what Winwood does here. I can’t describe it any better than that, but it’s masterful. Like he captured lightning in a bottle and it had a sound. Yes, it was the 80s and the sound can sometimes veer that way (I blame the synths, like in Freedom Overspill), but so what? And for all of that this record also sounds timeless. Classic. It just sounds GOOD. And I love (what I think of as) the Phil Collins horn sections, those sharp blasts of colour. I always cheer for the horn section. There’s even backing music and vocals from Joe Walsh, James Taylor and Chaka Khan.

This is pop rock music at its best, its smartest. These are really smart songs. Of course, all the big hits are here, like Higher Love, Back In The High Life Again and The Finer Things. But the whole record plays like a Hits disc. And this vinyl copy sounds fantastic. The sound is very roomy and warm. Way better than my old cassette. Of course, I didn’t have my giant PSB speakers back then, either…

I was amazed, listening to this. It’s crazy how much of this album came back to me instantly. It’s like it was encoded into my DNA and all I needed was to hear it again and the program just restarts right where I left off. Playing this, for lack of a better word, I just feel LIFTED.

Fantastic.

6 thoughts on “Steve Winwood – Back In The High Life

  1. T-rev says:

    Indeed! Low spark of high heeled boys! Woooooooo! I did see those reviews…you truly are all over the map musically. Thats great in my books

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  2. T-rev says:

    This is crazy! This was one of my favourite albums growing up! Way back when i was finding out what music i really liked…i was into BITHLA! It one of those albums you can’t hate..it’s quite comforting to me actually, like the sound of David Gilmour’s guitar! Glad an other “rawker” acknowledges the brilliance of Steve. NICE!

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Oh yes! Hey man, any dude involved in Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith AND THEN had a solo career like his? Gotta be some kinda genius, man. And this record is completely solid. I still love it.

      I am a rocker, for sure. I am also into just about everything else. I posted about Saint-Saëns and Willie Nelson recently too… sadly, they didn’t get any comments… But I understand. What can be added? We all know they’re awesome too! 😉

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  3. Deke says:

    Yeah dude I remember radio here in Tbay in the late 80s playing a ton of Winwood esp Back In the High Life,Roll with it and later on Valerie(which I know is not on this record) but yeah even though I’m not a huge Winwood fan his vocals are very original and u know what back than I would not change the dial when his music came on…..

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Roll With It and Valerie are also huge classics. I really do need to get digging out there for a Hits collection. Chronicles was OK but not really complete. Revolutions includes some Specer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith tracks too, which could be cool. With as busy as this guy has been for decades, he needs a bloody box set! And if I ever find Arc Of A Diver or Roll With It on vinyl in my junk shop, I’ll be plunking down my cash so fast the clerk’s head’ll spin! 😉

      BITHL is one of those 80s albums for me, it was just always on (or on the radio, as you mentioned). And I think the music is universal. It maybe couldn’t compete with the heavier music going at the time, but I don’t think it was trying to, it was just excellent stuff and there if you wanted to come to it. His vocals are indeed an acquired taste, but I can’t think of anyone else who could do those tunes justice. It all just works. So awesome.

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