Steve Winwood is now approaching the 50 year mark in his career. He began as the boy wonder of The Spencer Davis Group during the mid-1960s with such songs as “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m A Man.” It was then on to the British psychedelic rock blues band Traffic, which would lead to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Then there was a short stop in the super group Blind Faith.
While he would reunite with Traffic, he began his solo career during 1977 with a self-titled album. His second 1980 release, Arc Of A Diver, signaled the beginning of huge commercial and critical success. That album will be reissued next month as a two-CD deluxe edition complete with bonus tracks.
Arc Of A Diver was very representative of his solo work. While his soulful vocals remained intact, the music was smoother and more mainstream in nature. The production and sound were impeccable, which was a significant upgrade from his group work.
The album was a complete Steve Winwood affair. He played all the instruments including the guitars, bass, drums, and synthesizers. He did not stop there as he also produced and engineered the album. To complete his total control, he wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks.
There is a lot to like here. “While You See A Chance” was just about a perfect pop rock song as it meandered along. “Spanish Dancer” was proof that the early 1980s could produce good synthesizer driven music. “Slowdown-Sundown” falls into a mellow groove that lulls you and stays in your mind. I have always been drawn to “Night Train,” with its somewhat funky sound and a brilliant guitar solo by Winwood. The title track sort of sums up the album and its breezy pop approach.
The second disc contains the shorter edited single of “Arc Of A Diver,” the instrumental version of “Night Train,” which originally appeared on a U.K. 12-inch single release and has never been issued in CD form, and a six-minute radio edit version of “Spanish Dancer.” The final track is a BBC Radio documentary, Arc Of A Diver, The Steve Winwood Story.
Over three decades after its original release, the music holds up surprisingly well. It may not be as creative as some of his work with Traffic, but it is an album and music well worth revisiting.