Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on


Albums I’d Pay To See: The Steve Winwood Edition

Driving home tonight, I was listening to the new 'Icon' hits compilation from Steve Winwood and it put my thoughts off into an interesting direction.

One of the things that continually bugs me somewhat silently (except for when I'm writing posts like this) is the shift that Steve Winwood made that took him away from performing material from his '80s albums. Somewhere around the late '90s, it seems like the focus shifted from a somewhat even mix of the old and older to a heavier focus on the earlier material from Blind Faith, Traffic, etc., with the occasional dose of 'Higher Love' thrown in. It was the Winwood equivalent of the expected 'The Way It Is' from Bruce Hornsby, thrown in as a token nod to fans that were listening to his music during that era.

More recently, there's been a bit more of the '80s stuff creeping into his setlists, but it's still not at the level that would make a Steve Winwood concert ticket an automatic purchase for me.

So what would do the trick?

Well, that was what was on my mind as I was driving and initially, my answer was a full album performance of the 'Back In the High Life' album.

But hell, you know I could just as easily go for a double shot - how about both the 'High' and 'Roll With It' albums?

I know - I just presented the world's least likely scenario with the above sentence, but that's my problem that I keep running into. If I get that full album performance, whatever Winwood album it is, there's going to be additional songs that I need to hear. Sure, I'd love to hear the Blind Faith and Traffic stuff, but I also want to hear the other '80s hits like 'Roll With It, 'While You See A Chance,' and maybe even a really cool random deep cut like 'One More Morning.'

For my dream Winwood tour, it's going to have to focus on the '70s and  '80s solo stuff nearly exclusively to make room for stuff like the above.

Truthfully, perhaps it would be the 'Chronicles' tour where Steve runs through the entire 'Chronicles' hits album in sequence, with selected additional tracks - stuff that didn't make 'Chronicles' but should have, plus tracks from 'Roll With It.'

I'd be all over that.

Tonight, it all brought me back to 'Talking Back To The Night,' the one Winwood solo track that I always have to crank up, without exception. I can't tell you what it is about that song, but a few years back, I was going through a breakup and in all of the years that I had owned 'Chronicles,' I'd never quite heard 'Talking Back To The Night' the way I did on that night that I listened to it for what effectively was the first time - the first time that I heard it and it really made impact.

It's just one of those great songs that does what any great song should do - it takes you far away from wherever you are at the moment that you're listening to it and it sets your mind free to dream and as your mind begins to wander, you just feel that much matter what your mood is.

At least that's what it does for me. Your mileage may vary.

Honorable mention - how great is 'Vacant Chair?'

  • royston

    Hi there Matt, found your site completely by chance while surfing for Elton John-related stuff. Anyway, read your post on Steve Winwood with interest. I came to the US for the first time in the Summer of ’86. We were driving around one afternoon flicking from radio station to radio station and “Higher Love” was on about 8 of them at the same time! Great song.