Thursday, August 28, 2008

Top 5 Steve Winwood Songs

Good old Steve Winwood...he's been around for over 40 years now playing in iconic bands like Traffic and Blind Faith as well as a long thriving solo career. To me, he's best known as the guy from the 80's who best defined the keyboard sound of a band. His keyboards had the weirdest sounds, almost like a wah-wah effect to them. Anyway, this is a totally biased opinion on Steve Winwood's top 5 songs...note they are almost all from the 1980's. A must have on your IPod.

5.) "Back In The High Life Again" - Winwood credits this song as one his favorite songs he wrote. Its a song about a man being beaten down by the world but he's going to be "back in the high life again". I like the neat banjo type guitar and its one of the few songs he wrote without a keyboard playing a major part. I don't remember much about the video except it involves Steve walking around alot, using a pay phone, dancing with a woman, and sporting a cool trench coat with sunglasses (my preferred look of the winter of 1999-2000). I like the live footage interspersed as well. Listen closely for James Taylor singing background vocals on the chorus.

4.) "Higher Love" - A mid 80's hit, this song is an almost perfect 80's song. It has the skittering drum beat in the beginning, a horn section (that might be a keyboard), a great chorus, some cool key changes, and Chaka Khan on background vocals. It almost sounds like 4 different songs in one in the way it changes it so much. It doesn't get much better than that. The video is pretty crazy in that all of these half naked people are dancing around Steve including Chaka Khan who comes along and almost grinds on him at some point. Steve's got some pretty smooth moves too.

I can't embed this song onto the website so you have to click the link if you want to see this one:

3.) "The Finer Things" - Another almost perfect song. I love the keyboard buildup in the beginning as well as the so bad its good drum machine. The vocals and lyrics during the verses are great and the song has a simple message. There is a line in the song that sounds like he's singing, "I will let you into my brain" but that can't be right. I'll still sing it when I listen to this song in the car. The video is from a concert video he did but it gives you an idea of what a genius playing the keyboards looks like. Listen for the signature keyboard sound during the intro around 20 seconds in. I like how he wanders the stage and how it seems he doesn't know what to do with his free hand not holding the microphone. Sometimes he waves it around, sometimes he snaps his fingers, and my favorite is when he does a fist pump.

2.) "Valerie" - This is a tough choice between one, two, and three but I'll put Valerie at number two. This song is actually from 1982 although it sounds like its from the late 80's. A pretty simple song that has a great keyboard hook and Steve singing very high on the chorus. There's a club version of this song out there that I've heard the few times I venture into a club these days. The video is just Steve standing around with the wind blowing his mullet back and then he decides he might as well play his keyboards. AWESOME keyboard solo starting around 2:42 with that weird keyboard sound. As a bonus you get two Steve Winwoods for the price of one around 3:35 and the freeze frame at the end. Gotta love the early 80's special effects.

1.) "While You See A Chance" - Probably not his best song but this is the song that got me into his other songs. This song is the gateway drug to the music of Steve Winwood I guess. Anyway, it also has a slow almost church organ like buildup with a few random keyboard notes thrown in (listen closely at :05). I love the keyboard riff that starts at :37. What puts this over the edge is the video. What in God's name is going on here? It looks like Steve is trapped in an Atari game with weird colors, shapes, lights, and shadows all around him. Even better are the creepy guys all dressed in black climbing a pyramid. The message of this song has nothing to do what's going on behind him. Its a rare video where he's not sporting is super cool mullet. Still this is a great song with some great chord changes. This would be the perfect video if the two people in black kidnap Steve at the end of the video.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of the obscure musical posts. Please dont post stuff like this again.