ILPS 9494 Steve Winwood
Produced by Steve Winwood and Chris Blackwell
Released on June 1977
Find it at GEMM
ILPS 9494 cover
[high resolution photo]

I ’ve got to side with my Rolling Stone Record Guide on this one: Steve Winwood (the album) is a fitting showcase for the man’s many talents. The knock I have on most Winwood albums is the lightness of the material, especially in lieu of Traffic’s rich arrangements. Far from the synthetic confections of Arc and its ilk, these six songs are flesh-and-blood numbers featuring bass, drums, keyboards and guitar. Sometimes he enlists a rhythm section, sometimes he handles everything himself, and never does it devolve into the dreaded one-note vamp where you wonder if the sound engineer has fallen asleep at the boards. While it’s a different chapter than Traffic, fans of the band will feel at home on songs like “Midland Maniac” and “Vacant Chair.” Those who recall that John Barleycorn started as a solo Winwood project may be tempted to see this album as a latter-day Traffic record, and in truth it soars where Eagle didn’t. The album marks the end of Traffic in one sense, as Winwood and Jim Capaldi ceased their songwriting partnership for a time (though the pair worked together on 1983’s Fierce Heart). Given Steve’s soulful mumbling, I couldn’t tell you what he’s singing about, and the lack of a lyric sheet leaves me in the dark. No matter, since it’s mostly about the music, whether it’s the funky openers (“Hold On,” “Time Is Running Out”) or the Santana-styled workout of “Luck’s In.” Sadly, this is a chapter of Winwood’s career that doesn’t get enough attention today because it never produced a recognizable hit. “Vacant Chair,” a collaboration with Bonzo Dog Band’s Viv Stanshall (they would go on to write the title track for Steve’s next album), got tapped for Chronicles but it’s only the tip of an interesting iceberg. It set the stage for his subsequent career even as it provided a bridge from his earlier work with Traffic, making it a nice transitional record for listeners taking the leap.

ILPS 9494 back cover ILPS 9494 picture sleeve
ILPS 9494 back cover ILPS 9494 picture sleeve


  1. HOLD ON    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi)    4:31
  2. TIME IS RUNNING OUT    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi)    6:29
  3. MIDLAND MANIAC    (Steve Winwood)    8:34
  4. VACANT CHAIR    (Steve Winwood/Viv Stanshall)    6:50
  5. LUCK'S IN    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi)    5:26
  6. LET ME MAKE SOMETHING IN YOUR LIFE    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi)    5:48


WILLIE WEEKS -- bass guitar
Reebop Kwaku Baah -- congas (2)
Jim Capaldi - percussion and backing vocals (2)
Brother James -- percussion
Julian (Junior) Marvin -- guitar (4)
Alan Spenner -- bass guitar (4)
John Susswell -- drums (4)
Phil Brown -- engineer
James Hutcheson -- cover painting

UK/US June 1977 Island LP ILPS 9494 picture sleeve
BRA 1977 Island LP 9127006  
GER/NET 1977 Island LP 28 972XOT picture sleeve
MEX 1977 Island LP LA-062  
US   Island CD 842 774  
US 1997 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-691 original master recording


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