Along with Brian Wilson and John Lennon, Steve Winwood is the artist who really helped me absorb the basic idioms and move on to other musical delights which I shamelessly neglected during my purist years.
1997 , Steve released his 7th solo album - aptly titled 'Junction
7' - and once again his vocal and instrumental skills appeared intact.
Despite a somewhat serious decrease in quality of the songs over the
past few years, this particular disc (which will be reviewed in full
at a later date) was a complete delight from start to finish.
In 1982, the release of 'Talkin' Back To The Night' signaled Steve's definitive arrival at the top of the tree and this is the album on which I want to concentrate right now.
In the song
'Arc of A Diver',
Steve had proclaimed that his 'Rock'n'Roll was putting on weight', therefore
he managed to adapt to the ever-changing music scene - with gusto, skill and
'Talkin' Back To The Night' comprises some of his most melodic and uplifting compositions. It was also a big departure from the previous outings since keyboards and synthesizers were the main instruments. It stirred up some controversy at the time - but still, that's why I love this disc so much : it's totally different in sound and production, but Steve didn't lose any of his powers in the process.
'Valerie' opens the disc brightly ; it's the kind of infectious song you can't get out of your head once you've heard it. 'And I Go' is a beautiful R'n'B-tinged ballad, reminiscent of those '66-'67 soul ballads. 'While There's A Candle Burnin' is again well constructed with more interesting chord progressions - and another good set of words by Will Jennings.
I'll be forever moved by 'It Was Happiness', which contains masterful arrangements - deep, beautiful layers of sound. 'Help Me Angel' is typical Steve Winwood, his burning voice well to the fore and featuring one of his most powerful synth solos (along with the one he takes in 'Valerie').
And then, there's 'Talkin' Back To The Night' ... a mesmerizing tale of both despair and hope, sung and played with warmth and meaning, and full of incredible keyboard stylings - courtesy of Steve of course, who played all the instruments here.
This album was a labor of love and talent. Steve went on to record other great discs - 'Back In The High Life' in 1986, 'Roll With It' in 1988, 'Junction 7' - but I think this one is totally satisfying in every possible way. It has joined The Beach Boys' 'Friends', Gene Vincent's 'Record Date', Elvis's 'Elvis Is Back', The Band's 'Stage Fright', Joe Maphis's 'King Of The Strings' (on Starday), Steely Dan's 'Aja', Robert Gordon's 'Are You Gonna Be The One', Eddie Cochran's 'Cherished Memories', The Beatles' 'White Album', Lee Morgan's 'The Sidewinder' and many others on my Desert Island record list - now, that's saying something !!!
Last but not least, be sure to grab Mobile Fidelity's Gold CD of Steve's 'Talkin' Back To The Night' (UDCD 674) to get the best sonic incarnation of that timeless album.