Greatest Hits Live
by David Chiu
It is amazing that in his 50-plus years in music, (with the exception of Live From Madison Square Garden with Eric Clapton from 2009) Steve Winwood has never released a proper live album spanning his entire career —until now. Greatest Hits Live is a double disc retrospective covering all facets of Winwood’s body of work: the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith and his solo recordings. If you caught him recently live, you know what a solid performer he is along with a terrific band in guitarist José Pires de Almeida Neto; drummer Richard Bailey; percussionist Edson “Cafe” Da Silva; and woodwinds/keyboards player Paul Booth – all of whom appear on this set. All of the performances incorporate a rich sound that draws on Afro-Cuban influences along with the minimalist jazzy-soulful-progressive rock feeling of Traffic: tracks as “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “Glad,” “Empty Pages,” “Gimme Some Lovin,” “I’m a Man,” and “Can’t Find My Way Home”; Winwood also throws in some soulful covers of Buddy Knows’ “Them Changes” and Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together.” Even some of the more popular hits from the ’80s, like “Higher Love,” “Roll With It,” “Freedom Overspill” and “Back in the High Life Again” are stripped of the their original incarnations’ gloss for something a little more rootiser and organic. What hasn’t changed, however, is Winwood’s remarkable singing voice and Hammond B-3 playing this versatile musician’s genius—Greatest Hits Live is an rewarding look back at a diverse catalog of music.