9 25448-1 Back In The High Life
Produced by Russ Titelman and Steve Winwood
Released on June 1986
Find it at GEMM
9 25448-1 cover
[high resolution photo]

O kay, I got back on the bus with this one. Steve Winwood’s first album in four years put him back in the spotlight again, dominating the airwaves (alongside Peter Gabriel’s So) and eventually besting that record for the Grammy. The two works have much in common: pop with a funky beat incubated in the studio and liberally spliced. Gabriel’s was the more experimental effort, but Winwood wins it song for song. “Higher Love” and “In Your Eyes” is pretty much a wash, and if nothing on High Life reaches the artful eccentricity of “Sledgehammer” or “Big Time,” it doesn’t reach the doldrums of “We Do What We’re Told” either. It’s no accident that Back In The High Life sits at the other end of the DIY extreme, recruiting more than two dozen guest artists to flesh out the material. The result is the closest to a hybrid of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel circa 1986 that you’re likely to hear. Winwood doesn’t have the social consciousness of Collins (let alone Gabriel), but love elevated enriches us all a little too. I would pick and choose among Steve’s other albums, but I’ll swallow Back In The High life whole. Even lesser known tracks like “My Love’s Leavin’” and “Split Decision” hold their own with anything on Roll With It or Talking Back To The Night. It’s a pleasure not to have to use the word “disappointment” when writing about a Steve Winwood album. Given his enormous talent, it was perhaps only a matter of time before he made a truly great album. Commercially and creatively, Steve Winwood has never reached this height again, but the feat alone has made him a legend twice over.

9 25448-1 back cover 9 25448-1 lyric sleeve
9 25448-1 back cover 9 25448-1 lyric sleeve


  1. HIGHER LOVE    (Steve Winwood/Will Jennings)    5:45
  2. TAKE IT AS IT COMES    (Steve Winwood/Will Jennings)    5:20
  3. FREEDOM OVERSPILL    (Steve Winwood/James Hooker/George Fleming)    5:33
  4. BACK IN THE HIGH LIFE AGAIN    (Steve Winwood/Will Jennings)    5:33
  5. THE FINER THINGS    (Steve Winwood/Will Jennings)    5:47
  6. WAKE ME UP ON JUDGMENT DAY    (Steve Winwood/Will Jennings)    5:48
  7. SPLIT DECISION    (Steve Winwood/Joe Walsh)    5:58
  8. MY LOVE'S LEAVIN'    (Steve Winwood/Vivian Stanshall)    5:19


STEVE WINWOOD -- synthesizer, sequencer programming, drum machine programming, keyboards, guitar, Hammond organ, synthesizer bass, piano, mandolin, Moog bass, synth solo
JIMMY BRALOWER -- drum machine programming
DAVID FRANK -- synthesizer horns, synthesizer horn arrangement, horn arrangement
CAROL STEELE -- congas, tambourine, percussion
Randy Brecker -- trumpet
Jocelyn Brown -- backing vocals
Mickey Curry -- drums (2)
Lewis Del Gatto -- baritone and tenor sax
Steve Ferrone -- drums (3)
Dan Hartman -- backing vocals (5)
Connie Harvey -- backing vocals
James Ingram -- backing vocals (5)
Chaka Khan -- backing vocals (1)
Robby Kilgore -- keyboards, synthesizer bell, synthesizer and sequencer programming
Tom Malone -- trombone
Arif Mardin -- synthesizer string arrangement
Eddie Martinez -- guitar, rhythm guitar
Bob Mintzer -- tenor sax
Rob Mounsey -- synthesizer, keyboards, synthesizer strings
Paul Pesco -- guitar (5)
Nile Rodgers -- rhythm guitar, guitar
Philippe Saisse -- synthesizer bass (1)
Ira Siegal -- guitar (6)
Mark Stevens -- backing vocals
James Taylor -- hamrony vocals (4)
Andrew Thomas -- PPG wave term synthesizer programming
Joe Walsh -- slide guitar
George Young -- alto sax
Tom Lord Alge -- engineer, mixing
Jason Corsaro -- engineer
Nobby Clark, Chris Lord Alge, Jim Boyer, Dave Greenberg, Bruce Lampcov, Malcolm Pollack and Jon Wlfson -- additional engineers
Jeffrey Kent Ayeroff -- art direction
Jeri McManus -- art direction, cover design
Arthur Elgort -- photography

UK June 1986 Island LP/CD/CS ILPS/CID/ICT 9844 lyric sleeve
US June 1986 Island LP/CD/CS 25448 lyric sleeve
BRA 1986 Island LP 6107 083  
CAN 1986 Island LP 92 54481 lyric sleeve
GER 1986 Island LP 207 769  
YUG   Jugoton LP LSI 73178 picture sleeve
US 1994 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-611 gold disc


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