CD Review: Steve Winwood

(amazon.com)

Steve Winwood
ICON
Island/UME
By David Chiu

There have been numerous Steve Winwood compilations, but what makes this one particular collection unique is that it entirely devoted to his solo work under his name, as opposed to combining  it with his output from the Spencer Davis Band, Traffic and Blind Faith. This set spans Winwood’s tenure with Island Records during the ‘80s when he emerged as more of a soulful pop artist, starting with 1980’s Arc of a Diver album (the groove-inspired title track and the hopeful “While You See a Chance”). Winwood moved from the progressive art rock sound he channeled in Traffic to R&B like on “Talking Back to the Night” from the 1982 album of the same name; “Valerie,” would be a bigger hit five years later in a remixed form. Winwood achieved his greatest commercial and mainstream success with 1986’s Back in the High Life album, that yielded three hits: the title song, “Higher Love” and “The Finer Things.” It’s also nice that this set includes the underrated “Freedom Overspill,” a lean funk/rock track. While certainly not representative of his entire career, ICON is nice that it focuses more on this particular and most popular aspect of Winwood’s music.

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