Get this crazy baby off my head!


Steve Winwood

Steve Winwood - Nine Lives - 2008 - Columbia

Steve Winwood's Nine Lives marks a more organic return to recording. This will be good news for those who live for any resurrection of rock heroes from days of yore, and bad for those who loved his hit singles in the 1980s and '90s. Seven of these nine cuts resemble (at least partially) those found on his last album, the brilliant About Time issued in 2003. The latter was a barnstormer of a rhythm and rock album (feels like Traffic meets Santana) that never got its proper due. Winwood produced this set for his debut on Columbia. He plays loads of Hammond B-3 and guitar, but also has a small core band that includes Jose Pires de Almeida on guitar, drummer Richard Bailey, Karl Van Den Bossche on percussion, and Paul Booth on reeds and woodwinds. Those seeking an album that resembles the surprise radio hit "Dirty City" (featuring Eric Clapton as a guest) aren't quite getting that. For the most part, Nine Lives begins as an introspective and reflective album that eventually cooks its way through restrained but inventive Afro-Latin grooves, bluesy, funky B-3, and acoustic and electric rock guitars. Just as often, however, that same blend of rhythmic invention graces lithe, deeply reflective tunes that address some very adult issues: separation, loss, reunion, spiritual redemption, and epiphany. The opening cut is the stripped-to-the-bone acoustic blues "I'm Not Drowning" with Winwood playing all the instruments. It's a gentle but effective blues moaner. Its 12-bar structure, hosts a memorable acoustic guitar lick that's ready-made for sampling. It's followed by "Fly," a nearly eight-minute tome that wouldn't have been out of place on Arc of a Diver if it'd had an unplugged element. Think of Robbie Robertson's solo material, or even the Blue Nile's sparse elegance on its debut album, and you can find a place for this gorgeous midtempo ballad with a sweet soprano saxophone line that leads into the melody. Winwood's voice is so rich here, it's capable of breaking your heart with its unsullied, beaten, and broken but unbowed spirit. The lyrics are almost holy in their expression of hope (more so than optimism) -- a hope that leads to a love that cannot be defeated. The album's single, "Dirty City," offers Clapton's most emotionally involved guitar playing in well over a decade; too bad he didn't play like this for the slumber-worthy Cream reunion. His sense of economy makes possible his actual feel for the guitar entering into the tune, and he basically makes it happen. But he has some real help from Van Den Bossche's djembes and congas, and a five-note, two-chord organ vamp from Winwood. When Mr. Slowhand takes his solo about six minutes in, its nasty sting is startling and raises the tension and release of the song as it eventually goes to fade about two minute later (it also makes the listener wonder where the hell he's been all these years and why his own records don't reflect this much invention and heat). The next track, the deeply spiritual "We're All Looking," is a funky, jazzed-up rocker with searching lyrics and a tremendously soulful presence in Winwood's voice; his singing is beautiful and powerful on Nine Lives -- time has not had its way with the thin yet authoritative and yearning luster in the grain of it. Winwood is singing his ass off, with plenty of deep soul. Here again it's important to note that Van Den Bossche's percussion in this ensemble, and on these songs in particular, cannot be overstated. It lends a certain flight-worthy expansiveness to Winwood's organ playing, and frees Bailey's drums to explore in many of these highly nuanced, nocturnal, funky cuts (check "Hungry Man," where the doubled-up polyrhythms between the two drummers create a vibe Winwood can dig deep into and then soar with, on both the Hammond and in his vocals). Those percussion elements are what make these often lyrically introspective tunes jump to life. Van Den Bossche is also one of the reasons that About Time was such a killer. Carlos Santana might gnash his teeth over not getting to play on this recording -- his influence is all over it. The flute break blended with bubbling congas, djembes, and funky guitars on "Secrets" will make it desirable to beat hunters everywhere. Think of Herbie Mann and Wes Montgomery with Mongo Santamaria playing on Traffic's Low Spark of High Heeled Boys album, and you get the picture. The final two tracks, and the other bookend, as it were, include one of the jauntiest, funkiest numbers on the set in "Sometimes We Do Forget," with a groove that is simply infectious with a bumping guitar and bassline. The closer, "Other Shore," is the only cut that recalls Winwood's early solo records, but it's sparse despite its beautiful, easy R&B lilt. Again, redemption for oneself, for others, for a love that has endured the goodbyes, and the letting go that ushers in a new "hello." This is pop music with soul, with grit and the grains of revealed truth pouring from Winwood's mouth, not as a survivor but as a man who has seen enough of life to know that the sun really does rise in the morning. Nine Lives is deeper, heartier, and braver lyrically than anything he's ever done. Musically, its only rival is About Time, but it's more reflective and gentler, without giving up any of the hunger which that album evidenced. This is not a comeback; it's instead a rediscovery from one of our most gifted singers, songwriters, and truth-tellers. © Thom Jurek © 2013 Rovi Corp | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/nine-lives-mw0000783315

Steve Winwood has been an excellent keyboardist, vocalist, band member and in-demand session musician for most of his career. Stevie recently guested with Steely Dan (Who?!) on some of their shows to great acclaim. It would be wrong to think of Steve Winwood as only being a big star in the blue-eyed soul-pop scene in the ‘80’s when he recorded a lot of stuff which was often slick, highly polished, using a viable winning commercial formula which was fine for AOR and mainstream radio and the commercial charts, but definitely did not appeal to many of his real fans, and certainly did not stretch Stevie’s great talents as a musician who had been an established and highly respected songwriter, musician and vocalist in the fields of jazz, psychedelia, blues-rock, and progressive rock in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. That musical background has not always been evident on some of Stevie’s solo albums. “Nine Lives” was a return to form for the ex- member of many great bands including the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, and Blind Faith. The album is predominantly a R&B/soul album with some great gospel, funk and jazz influences. Steve's vocals are uninhibited and soulful, and his musicianship is wonderful. The album is HR by A.O.O.F.C. Listen to Stevie’s great “Back in the High Life” album, Traffic's "John Barleycorn Must Die" album, and Blind Faith's s/t album...Real music [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 152 Mb]


1 I'm Not Drowning (Steve Winwood, Peter Godwin) 3:32
2 Fly (Winwood, Godwin, José Pires de Almeida Neto) 7:49
3 Raging Sea (Winwood, Godwin, Neto) 6:17
4 Dirty City (Winwood, Godwin) 7:44
5 We're All Looking (Winwood, Godwin) 5:25
6 Hungry Man (Winwood, Godwin, Neto) 7:07
7 Secrets (Winwood, Godwin, Neto) 6:41
8 At Times We Do Forget (Winwood, Godwin, Neto) 5:57
9 Other Shore (Winwood, Godwin, Neto) 6:41


Steve Winwood - Guitar, Hammond Organ, Organ, Vocals
José Pires de Almeida Neto - Guitar on Tracks 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9
Tim Cansfield - Guitar on Track 6
Eric Clapton - Guitar Solo on Track 4
Richard Bailey - Drums
Karl Van Den Bossche - Percussion
Paul Booth - Saxophone, Flute, Human Whistle


As a solo artist, Steve Winwood is primarily associated with the highly polished blue-eyed soul-pop that made him a star in the '80s. Yet his turn as a slick, upscale mainstay of adult contemporary radio was simply the latest phase of a long and varied career, one that's seen the former teenage R&B shouter move through jazz, psychedelia, blues-rock, and progressive rock. Possessed of a powerful, utterly distinctive voice, Winwood was also an excellent keyboardist who remained an in-demand session musician for most of his career, even while busy with high-profile projects. That background wasn't necessarily apparent on his solo records, which established a viable commercial formula that was tremendously effective as long as it was executed with commitment. Stephen Lawrence Winwood was born May 12, 1948, in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, England. First interested in swing and Dixieland jazz, he began playing drums, guitar, and piano as a child, and first performed with his father and older brother Muff in the Ron Atkinson Band at the age of eight. During the early '60s, Muff led a locally popular group called the Muff Woody Jazz Band, and allowed young Steve to join; eventually they began to add R&B numbers to their repertoire, and in 1963 the brothers chose to pursue that music full-time, joining guitarist Spencer Davis to form the Spencer Davis Group. Although he was only 15, Steve's vocals were astoundingly soulful and mature, and his skills at the piano were also advanced beyond his years. Within a year, he'd played with numerous American blues legends both in concert and in the studio; in 1965, he also recorded the solo single "Incense" as the Anglos, crediting himself as Stevie Anglo. Meanwhile, the Spencer Davis Group released a handful of classic R&B-styled singles, including "Keep on Running," "I'm a Man," and the monumental "Gimme Some Lovin'," which stood with any of the gritty hardcore soul music coming out of the American South. Winwood eventually tired of the tight pop-single format; by the mid-'60s, the cutting edge of rock & roll often involved stretching out instrumentally, and with his roots in jazz, Winwood wanted the same opportunity. Accordingly, he left the Spencer Davis Group in 1967 to form Traffic with guitarist Dave Mason, horn player Chris Wood, and drummer Jim Capaldi, all of whom had played on "Gimme Some Lovin'." The quartet retired to a small cottage in the Berkshire countryside, where they could work out their sound -- a unique blend of R&B, Beatlesque pop, psychedelia, jazz, and British folk -- and jam long into the night without angering neighbors. Traffic debuted in the U.K. with the single "Paper Sun" in May 1967, and soon issued their debut album Mr. Fantasy (retitled Heaven Is in Your Mind in the U.S.); it was followed by the jazzy psychedelic classic Traffic in 1968. However, conflicts had arisen between Winwood and Mason over the latter's tightly constructed folk-pop songs, which didn't fit into Winwood's expansive, jam-oriented conception of the band. Mason left, returned, and was fired again, and Winwood broke up the band at the beginning of 1969. Even so, by that time, he had become the unofficial in-house keyboardist for Traffic's label Island, playing at numerous recording sessions. Winwood subsequently hooked up with old friend Eric Clapton, who'd recently parted ways with Cream. The two began jamming and found that they enjoyed working together, and rumors of their collaboration spread like wildfire; the enormous anticipation only grew when ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker signed on, despite Clapton's misgivings over the expectations that would create. Concert promoters rushed to book the band before any material had been completed (hence the band's eventual name, Blind Faith), and offered too much money for them to refuse, despite their lack of rehearsal time. Their self-titled debut, released in the summer of 1969, was a hit, but the extreme pressure on the group led to their breakup even before the end of the year. Winwood joined Baker in a large, eclectic new supergroup called Ginger Baker's Air Force, but Winwood still had contract obligations to Island, and he left not long after Air Force's debut performance at the Royal Albert Hall in early 1970. Winwood began work on what was slated to be his first solo LP, but he gradually brought in more ex-Traffic members to help him out, to the point where the album simply became a band reunion. John Barleycorn Must Die was released later in 1970, showcasing the sort of jam-happy jazz-rock sound that Winwood had in mind for the group from the start. Several more albums in that vein followed, including 1971's The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, which brought Traffic to the peak of their commercial popularity in America. The run was briefly interrupted by Winwood's bout with peritonitis around 1972, but he'd recovered enough to play a major role in Eric Clapton's early-1973 comeback concerts at the Rainbow Theatre. Traffic broke up in 1974, but instead of going solo right away, an exhausted Winwood spent the next few years as a session musician, relaxing on his Gloucestershire farm during his spare time. He also featured prominently as a collaborator with Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamash'ta, appearing on his hit jazz fusion LP, Go, in 1976. When Winwood finally returned with his self-titled solo debut in 1977, Britain was in the midst of the punk revolution, and the music itself was somewhat disappointing even to Winwood himself. Dismayed, he returned to Gloucestershire and all but disappeared from music. He returned in late 1980 with the little-heralded Arc of a Diver, a much stronger effort on which he played every instrument himself. Modernizing Winwood's sound with more synthesizers and electronic percussion, Arc of a Diver was a platinum-selling hit in the U.S., helped by the hit single "While You See a Chance"; it received highly positive reviews as well, most hailing the freshness of Winwood's newly contemporary sound. The extremely similar 1982 follow-up Talking Back to the Night sounded rushed to some reviewers, and it wasn't nearly as big a hit, with none of its singles reaching the Top 40. Unhappy with the record, Winwood even considered retiring to become a producer (though his brother talked him out of it). Taking more time to craft his next album, Winwood didn't return until 1986, with an album of slickly crafted, sophisticated pop called Back in the High Life, which was his first '80s album to feature outside session musicians. It was a smash hit, selling over three-million copies and producing Winwood's first number one single in "Higher Love," which also won a Grammy for Record of the Year. In 1987, Virgin offered Winwood a substantial sum of money and successfully pried him away from Island; a remixed version of Talking Back to the Night's "Valerie," featured on the Island-greatest-hits compilation Chronicles, became a Top Ten hit later that year. Winwood's hot streak continued with his first album for Virgin, 1988's Roll With It. The title track became his second number one and his biggest hit ever, and the album topped the charts as well; plus, the smoky ballad "Don't You Know What the Night Can Do?" was featured in a prominent TV ad campaign. Winwood had by now established a large, mostly adult fan base, but that support began to slip with his next album, 1990's Refugees of the Heart. Refugees repeated the slick blue-eyed soul updates of its predecessor, but according to most reviewers it simply wasn't performed with the same passion, save for the lead single "One and Only Man," a collaboration with Traffic mate Jim Capaldi. Afterward, Winwood continued his pattern of following disappointments with periods of inactivity; he next resurfaced in 1994 as part of a Traffic reunion with Capaldi. Together they released the new album, Far From Home, and toured the world. Winwood subsequently returned to his solo career and spent two years working on Junction Seven, which finally appeared in 1997 and was co-produced by Narada Michael Walden. However, his momentum had stalled, and the album -- which received mixed reviews -- failed to sell well. The following year, Winwood toured with his new project Latin Crossings, a jazz group that also featured Tito Puente and Arturo Sandoval (though they never recorded). He subsequently parted ways with Virgin. The brilliant About Time appeared in 2003, followed in 2008 by Nine Lives. © Steve Huey © 2013 Rovi Corp | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/steve-winwood-mn0000045313


A.O.O.F.C said...


Password is aoofc

Pierre said...

WOW - Paul, brilliant, thanks for bringing this one to my attention, there isn't a dud track on this album, great band,(I think it's time Clapton did an album like this) and I agree with the write up completely, this is Traffic meets Santana for sure ! cheers Pierre.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Pierre. Ilike your "Traffic meets Santana"! That's good. It's a great album. I was fed up with Stevie's slick AOR stuff, but he got back to basics here. Thanks a million, & TTU later...Paul

Barron said...

The SpeedShare link isn't working for me. I get the countdown, but nothing happens when I click on the download button.

Is this service perhaps not available in the US?

Barron said...

Addendum to previous comment: the SpeedShare link for Aynsley Lister works for me, but the Winwood link does not. I further note that I have tried the Winwood link on two different days and on two different machines with unrelated connections.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Barron. I don't know about the US linking problems. Try http://speedshare.org/download.php?setlang=en&id=4E7BB9BE1

Wait for D/L counter and download Hope this works. Come back to me if this fails. Thanks...Paul

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I love the Traffic albums, really looking forward to checking this one out.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,A. Let me know what you think of album, & TVM..Paul