When discussing Steve Winwood’s solo albums the first one that’s usually mentioned Is Back in the High Life. That indeed was a huge album for “Stevie” and deserves all the praise it received. The 1986 release peaked at #7 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart and won Grammys for Record of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance along with an engineering award. “Higher Love” was a #1 single.
Arc of a Diver also gets kudos tossed its way. And yes, it’s another good one. As far as hits there was the title cut along with “When You See a Chance,” “Spanish Dancer” and “Night Train.” 82’s Talking Back Through the Night did well on the strength of the hit “Valerie.”
But for me, if I could only take one Steve Winwood album with me to a desert island it would be this self-titled debut from 1977.
I often refer to this album as Steve Winwood’s forgotten album. Not only do not many people have an opinion on it but not many people seem to know about it.
It was eight years after Blind Faith and six years after Traffic’s classic, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, and Winwood was losing his household name status. This effort wouldn’t help as radio hardly supported it which was a mistake. My guess is that the songs weren’t short enough to be considered “radio-friendly.” Only the first track on the album, “Hold On” was shorter than five and half minutes long. The best songs on the album, “Time is Running Out” clocks in at 6:30 and the magnificent “Vacant Chair” is close to seven minutes.
Traffic’s Jim Capaldi co-wrote much of this album along with Winwood and their percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah also makes an appearance. Long time studio aces Andy Newmark was on drums and Willie Weeks, bass.
While Steve Winwood has had albums that sold much better as we’ve acknowledged, we tell you that this one is not to be missed. Go out and get it.
You can hear most of these gems below on the video playlist.
All songs written by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, except where noted
- Hold On – 4:33
- Time Is Running Out – 6:30
- Midland Maniac – 8:32 (Winwood)
- Vacant Chair – 6:54 (Winwood, Viv Stanshall)
- Luck’s In – 5:23
- Let Me Make Something in Your Life – 5:33
- Steve Winwood – Synthesizer, guitar, keyboards, vocals, producer
- Nicole Winwood – Background vocals
- Jim Capaldi – Percussion, background vocals
- Willie Weeks – Guitar, bass guitar
- Rebop Kwaku Baah – Percussion, conga
- Brother James – Percussion
- Junior Marvin (credited as Junior Hanson and Julian [Jr] Marvin) – Guitar
- Andy Newmark – Drums
- John Susswell – Drums
- Alan Spenner – Bass guitar
Check out these albums from additional Hall of Famers