Saturday, 7 February 2015

Steve Winwood 'Higher Love'

Chart Peak: 13
'Higher Love' charted at No. 66 on 24th June, had climbed to No. 13 by 22nd July. Steve first sang the lead vocal on a British Top 20 single in December 1965 with the Spencer Davis Group - the song was 'Keep On Running'.

Slightly odd phrasing there, as if there was reason to think the song would progress beyond 13 months later. It didn't, but even this was his highest UK chart position as a solo artist and indeed one of only two Top 20 singles he ever managed  on his own. Perhaps that's slightly surprising, given his record of success in previous groups and the way radio seemed to love him in the mid-to-late 80s; indeed this topped the more airplay-driven US chart, one of singles by British acts with no UK chart-toppers to do so in 1986 (it was even knocked off by another such act, Bananarama, whilst Genesis had famously deposed Peter Gabriel earlier that year).

You might be forgiven for a little deja vu here, if you remember 'Notorious' from the top of this album. The videos are very similar and feature several of the same personnel, including Nile Rodgers and five brass players who are again reduced to sounding like single-finger keyboard playing. This is a better song and Winwood is certainly a far better singer than Simon Le Bon but like most of his output it's so overproduced it's almost painful to listen to. There's a great chorus to be belted out but even Chaka Khan is overpowered by the regimented click track. A bit of a waste of talent, but at least we get the 7" edit instead of the more boring full version.

Despite surely being recorded with the CD format in mind, this is the first Now 8 track not on either of the digital spin-offs, presumably due to Island's unwillingness to licence it. It does of course appear on many other CDs.

Available on: Now That's What I Call 1986

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