Nine Lives expands on all the many phases and turns of Steve Winwood's lustrous career, bristling with his pure joy of music-making. The new songs range from the inspiring "Fly" to the burning "Dirty City" (featuring a gu... more »est appearance by long-time friend Eric Clapton) to the simmering "Hungry Man", joining a canon that spans more than forty years to include some of the most beloved songs of modern pop and rock.« less
Nine Lives expands on all the many phases and turns of Steve Winwood's lustrous career, bristling with his pure joy of music-making. The new songs range from the inspiring "Fly" to the burning "Dirty City" (featuring a guest appearance by long-time friend Eric Clapton) to the simmering "Hungry Man", joining a canon that spans more than forty years to include some of the most beloved songs of modern pop and rock.
Anthony Accordino | Massapequa Park, New York United States | 05/01/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There are two types of Steve Winwood music, and individual taste will dictate whether you will like this cd or not. If you are the Winwood fan who perfers his R&B pop sound,["Valarie", "Higher Love", "Roll With It", "Gimmie Some Lovin" etc], you are going to more than likely find this cd a total bore. If you perfer his soothing layed back jazzy traffic feel to his music, you are probably going to find this cd enjoyable. Having said that, after listening to this cd a few times, I find the cd to be somewhat uneventful. Well played and sung, but nothing that is going to be memorable, or even ear catching for that matter. Most of the music comes across as bland. I found the best song on the cd to be "At Times We Forget", which at least grabs the listeners ear, and is the most listenable track on this collection. "Dirty City", is another fine song, and features Eric Clapton, and predictably sounds as if it came right out of the Blind Faith era. The rest of the songs basically sound the same, with that jazzy slow uninspired sound. Steve Winwood is a great talent, but sometimes I feel he goes overboard with this smooth jazz sound that I also feel takes the fire out of many of his live shows. I do not want to sound negative, but this cd is nothing near his best work and is average at best."
The new rise of a true great British blue-eyed R&B artist !
Pedder | New York, NY | 05/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Steve Winwood (who turns 60 this year) has signed a new deal with Columbia Records who has released the artist's highly-anticipated new major label album "Nine Lives", his first studio LP since the acclaimed "About Time" on his own independent label, Wincraft in 2003. It and opens an important new chapter in Steve's extraordinary career. Even after a career of 45 years, there always a suspicion that Steve Winwood may surprise us. He lives the quiet life of a country squire in his Cotswolds retreat, but periodically Steve Winwood emerges, like a gun-dog with a grouse in its mouth, bearing another album of gorgeous, wide-ranging songs. "Nine Lives" is the latest: it has less of a Latin flavour than its predecessor About Time, but at times it has more of an edge, especially on the rousing, gritty-sounding "Dirty City", on which his old Blind Faith bandmate Eric Clapton guests on guitar. The album is written and co-produced by Steve Winwood with Johnson Somerset- whose previous credits include Roxy Music and Duran Duran. Why Nine Lives ? Some people believe in the superstition that cats have nine lives, because cats can survive falls from high places with few, if any injuries. This gives the appearance that the cats return to life after sustaining a fatal accidents, they may sustain minor injuries, such but they live to recover. The aptly titled album is a fresh and invigorating rediscovery of Winwood's roots, his personal style and career, and paints a musical portrait of spiritual transformation as Winwood continues the exploration of soul, rock, blues and world music which began in 1957, when, at the age of 9, he played guitar in his father's band in Birmingham, England. Pretty much everything you'd ever want from a Steve Winwood album is here: the plaintive voice, the pulsing rhythms, the multifarious musical influences (funk, jazz, blues, world) - and of course Winwood's trusty old Hammond B3 organ, which drenches this album in its blazing, shimmering warmth. He is now just days from his 60th birthday, but he joined the Spencer Davis Group at just 15, voyaging through blue-eyed R&B, toying with psychedelia in Traffic, doing the supergroup thing with Eric Clapton in Blind Faith and pioneering the DIY play-everything approach with "Arc of A Diver". Since then, Winwood has perfected a synthesis of blues, jazz, soul, latin and occasionally folk which at its best is exquisite. No mean guitarist, a master of the lush Hammond organ and possibly one of the best voices in English rock, Winwood's name should be writ as large as Clapton's. It has nine arresting songs: on each of them he continues the exploration of soul, rock, blues and world music that Steve Winwood is renowned for. It kicks off with a I'm Not Drowning, hitched to a delta blues riff. Amongst the many highlights on the album, "Fly" is a brave and ambitious track featuring soaring powerful vocals set against a cacophony of sound: it is a gossamer-fine love song, using latin rhythm, nylon-strung guitar, pining soprano sax and organ, Winwood's voice creating the kind of hymn-like quality he brought to Traffic's "Holy Ground". Other highlights on the album are many and include "Forget About Him", a joyous and moving six-minute journey through horns, keyboards and world instruments. Alongside "Hungry Man", which sounds like something from Paul Simon's Brazilian-style "Rhythm Of The Saints", "We're All Looking", a mighty fine Latin funk with lashings of Hammond and the captivating track "Secrets" show that the album is as consistently strong as it is diverse. On this CD Steve Winwood turns another musical corner, showcasing his ability to still create relevant and evocative music. It gives his fans, old and new, nine new reasons to celebrate the life and music of this ageless, and still prodigious, musical treasure. Steve and Eric Clapton played three sold out nights at Madison Square Gardens, New York in February. Steve and his band will be special guests to Tom Petty on his US tour this summer."
If you liked him in "Blind Faith" and his jazzy phases, this
R. Kyle | USA | 05/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've liked Steve Winwood through most of his career, including Blind Faith, Traffic, and his solo music. I'm not as much a fan of the pop tunes as I am the jazzier, bluesier music.
The single of "Dirty City" a gritty Blind Faith style number with his old friend Eric Clapton led this CD out into radioland. It's my favorite cut of the collection and the reason I bought the CD.
"Fly" is lovely. The flute at the end of the song is compelling and really conjures up the image of flight.
I'd like to see "At Times we Forget" get some airplay. It's got strong lyrics and is a good listen.
Check out the samples on this page and see what you think. While this CD is mostly jazz and blues influenced, fans of Winwood's pop may find a few cuts they really enjoy--and the price for this collection is excellent.
A tremendous surprise
David Lerner | Columbia, MD USA | 05/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While I've always had an appreciation for all aspects of Steve Winwood's music (solo and non), I've never really gone nuts for any of it. Until now...
Nine Lives is simply a fantastic album. The instrumentation is sparse, made up of mostly Winwood on Hammond and guitar, a drummer, and a percussionist. Occasionally, he's joined by a sax or flute player, and on one track Eric Clapton jumps in for a smokin' guitar solo. The vocals consist of Steve, solo, without a doubled lead vocal track or any background vocals. It's a fairly minimalist arrangement, but the sparseness just makes it that much more effective.
The groove is mostly laid back, and the songs are extended into mostly five to seven minute explorations of a musical idea. The album isn't flashy, and Winwood doesn't seem to be trying to impress anyone with his skills. He's just out to have a good time, and make some music that he enjoys. It translates to a remarkable album.
Nine Lives is an unexpected joy. I can't seem to listen to it enough, and I know I can't recommend it highly enough. It takes a lot for an album to really blow me away. Nine Lives blows me away..."
BACK ON HIGHER GROUND
Thomas D. Ryan | New York | 06/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It seems as though we forget too easily just how vital Steve Winwood is. His release rate is sporadic, and as the saying goes, `out of sight, out of mind.' Nevertheless, he's been providing us with great music since the British Invasion (yeah, it's been that long) as a member of the Spencer Davis Group, then with Traffic, then Blind Faith, then the revised Traffic, and finally, as a solo artist. His music has always been relaxed and reflective, but with a strong rhythmic drive and a timeless quality that keeps his music relevant through all sorts of stylistic changes. He may not make a lot of records, but he always makes good ones, so it shouldn't surprise me to learn that "Nine Lives" is as good as it is. The surprise is that it's even better than I had any right to expect. "Nine Lives" sounds a lot like second-generation Traffic, with less noodling and more focus. The songs build on blues riffs, jazz, and folk-rock, all coupled with African and Latin influences. There is precision and elegance to virtually every track on this album, without a single extraneous note. It all makes perfect sense, from the nailed down rhythmic grooves to the song lengths, which linger only long enough to make you want more. "Nine Lives" hearkens back to an era when good music defined our culture, but it doesn't sound the least bit dated or forced. In the best sense, this album could have been released in 1972. With nine tracks passing by in approximately fifty minutes, it's even the right length for a classic vinyl album. From a topical perspective, Winwood is still relying on the imagery that has served him well in the past. There are lots of metaphors here - flying, drowning (or more specifically, not drowning), raging seas and struggling to find higher ground. He's not a lyrical genius, but the songs are so strong that his words take on a sense of import, and most importantly, he sounds like he really is trying to convey something honestly. Apparently, he still feels as though he's struggling to hang on to something (Relevance? Sanity in a world without pity?), yet the music is never less than relaxed and confident. Is "Nine Lives" as good as his previous solo albums? Definitely. It is certainly his best record since "Arc of a Diver," maybe even since "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys." There is no filler here, just 100% vintage Steve Winwood, and that is better than good enough for me. A Tom Ryan"