Clips & Pix: Steve Winwood/Gimme Some Lovin’

Tonight Steve Winwood kicks off his Greatest Hits Live Tour in Chicago, so I felt like posting this cool clip of Gimme Some Lovin’. It was captured at a show in Baltimore last April during his 2017 World Tour.

Co-written by Steve (vocals, organ), his older brother Muff Winwood (bass) and Spencer Davis (guitar) and performed by the Spencer Davis Group, which also included Pete York on drums, Gimme Some Lovin’ was released as a single in October 1966. The tune became one of the band’s biggest hits, reaching no. 2 on the UK Singles Chart and no. 7 in the U.S.

Winwood’s new tour includes 13 additional dates and ends in Bethlehem, Pa on March 14. One of the gigs will be on March 8 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, not far from my house. I’ve seen the man once before a few years ago, and it was a great show. His voice and roaring Hammond continue to excite me, so I think I’m gonna get a ticket and give him some lovin’!

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube

My Take On 2017 In Rock Music: Part II

New music that moved me

Of the more than 20 albums I reviewed over the year, TajMo (Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’), Sad Clowns & Hillbillies (John Mellencamp featuring Carlene Carter) and Southern Blood (Gregg Allman) touched me the most. There were new releases from younger artists in the blues rock arena I find exciting. If there is any truth to the often heard sentiment that (classic) rock music is dying, this certainly doesn’t seem to the case for blues and blues rock!

Taj Mahal & Keb’ Mo’/TajMo (May 5)

Overall, TajMo represents uplifting blues, which sounds like an oxymoron. “Some people think that the blues is about being down all the time, but that’s not what it is,” explained Mahal who has been known to mix blues with other music genres. From the very first moment I listened to it, this record drew me in, and I simply couldn’t get enough of it! You can read more about it here.

Here’s the fantastic opener Don’t Leave Me Here.

John Mellencamp featuring Carlene Carter/Sad Clowns & Hillbillies (April 28)

John Mellencamp is one of my long-time favorite artists. I know pretty much all of his albums. While I dig the straight rock-oriented music on his ’80s records like American Fool, Uh-Huh and Scarecrow, I’ve also come to appreciate his gradual embrace of stripped down roots-oriented music. That transition started with my favorite Mellencamp album The Lonesome Jubilee in 1987. Sad Clowns & Hillbillies probably is as rootsy as it gets for the Indiana rocker. For more on this outstanding record, you can read here.

Following is one of the album’s gems, Indigo Sunset, which Mellencamp performs together with Carlene Carter, who co-wrote the tune with him.

Gregg Allman/Southern Blood (Sep 8)

Southern Blood, the eighth and final studio album by the great Gregg Allman, is the 2017 release that touched me the most emotionally. Reminiscent of his 1973 debut solo release Laid Back, this album feels like Allman came full circle. Given how ill he was at the time he recorded the ten tracks, it is remarkable that the record doesn’t project an overly dark mood like David Bowie did on Blackstar. Instead, it portrays a man who appeared to have accepted his time was running short and who took a reflective look back on his life. I also find it striking how strong Allman’s voice sounds throughout.

Here is the official video of My Only True Friend, the only original song Allman co-wrote with Scott Sharrad, the lead guitarist and musical director of Allman’s band. Damn, watching is getting to me!

New music from young blues rock artists

There are some kick-ass younger blues rock artists who released new music this year. The first coming to my mind are Jane Lee Hooker and their sophomore album Spiritus, which appeared last month. This five-piece all-female band from New York delivers electrifying raw blues rock power. While you can read more the record here, how better to illustrate my point than with a clip: Gimme That, an original tune with a cool Stonesey sound.

Another hot young blues rock band is Greta Van Fleet, who also came out with their sophomore album in November. It’s called From The Fires. These Michigan rockers almost sound like a reincarnation of early Led Zeppelin. I previously reviewed the album here. Check out this clip of Safari Song. At first sight, these guys might look like some high school band, but they sure as heck don’t sound like one!

Next up are two blues rock dudes who are more established than Jane Lee Hooker and Greta Van Fleet but who are still fairly young artists at least in my book: 35-year-old Casey James and 40-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Plus, ultimately it’s about their music, not their age.

Casey James from Fort Worth, Texas, who was a third-place finalist on American Idol in 2010, started out playing pop-oriented country rock music. While his eponymous debut album from March 2013 brought some success, it didn’t bring him the happiness he was looking for as an artist. So he decided to leave the country world behind for electric blues and in June this year released Strip It Down. Here’s a clip of the nice opener All I Need.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd is hardly a newcomer. The guitarist from Shreveport, La. has been active as a musician since 1990. In August this year, he released Lay It On Down, his eighth album. In my opinion, Shepherd is one of the most exciting younger artists out there, who are keeping the blues alive. Here is the official clip of the record’s great opener, Baby Got Gone – my kind of music!

Anniversary editions of standout albums

As a die-hard fan of The Beatles, to readers of the blog it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I was particularly excited about the 50th anniversary reissue of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which appeared in May – in fact, so much that I decided to get the double LP-set, my first new vinyl in 30 years! Producer Giles Martin, the son of the “fifth Beatle” George Martin, and music engineer Sam Okell created what The Beatles may well have wanted the iconic album to sound like, had they cared about the stereo mix in 1967. Here is more about this amazing reissue. Following is the official anniversary trailer.

Another great anniversary reissue, which was released about four weeks ago, is a deluxe edition of Hotel California by the Eagles. The original album appeared in December 1976, so this special edition came out almost one year after the actual 40th anniversary. While Hotel California is my favorite Eagles album, more than the studio versions of the original record, it’s the live tracks that excite me in particular. Released for the first time, they were recorded prior to the album’s appearance during the band’s three-night stand at the Los Angeles Forum in October 1976. For additional thoughts on this anniversary edition, read here. Meanwhile, here is a clip of one of the live tracks, Hotel California, one of the first live performances of the epic tune.

The last special release I’d like to highlight is the 25th anniversary edition of Automatic For The People by R.E.M., which appeared in November. As I previously pointed out here, the 1992 release was the band’s 8th studio album, earning significant commercial success and a general positive reception from music critics. Here is a clip of what to me is the album’s standout, Everybody Hurts.

Other notable new releases

It is impossible to cover all new 2017 music I liked, even with breaking down this year-in-review feature into four parts. But at least, I’d like to mention other albums that are noteworthy to me: Ryan Adams/Prisoner (Feb 17), Deep Purple/inFinite (Apr 7), John Mayer/The Search For Everything (Apr 14), Sheryl Crow/Be Myself (April 21), Little Steven/Soulfire (May 19), Chuck Berry/Chuck (Jun 9), Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie/Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie (Jun 16), Alice Cooper/Paranormal (July 28), Steve Winwood/Greatest Hits Live (Sep 1), Ringo Starr/Give More Love (Sep 15), The Church/Man Woman Life Death Infinity (Oct 6), Bob Seger/I Knew You When (Nov 17), U2/Songs Of Experience (Dec 1) and The Rolling Stones/On Air (Dec 1).

The next part of this year-in-review feature will look at some of concerts I attended this year.

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube

Steve Winwood Releases Wide-Ranging Greatest Hits Live Compilation

Album portraits five-decade career from Spencer Davis Group to present

Steve Winwood has been one of my favorite artists for many years. Some fans who like Winwood from his days with The Spencer Davis Group and Traffic cringe when it comes to his more pop-oriented solo albums from the ’80s. I dig both, his old stuff and the music he released during the ’80s and later. I find there is just something about Winwood’s voice that makes almost any song he performs great, similar to what was the case with Tina Turner.

Released yesterday (Sep. 1), Greatest Hits Live is Winwood’s first new album since 2009’s Live From Madison Square Garden, which featured Eric Clapton. According to a press release, the record is available as a 2-CD and a 4-vinyl LP set. All tracks were handpicked by Winwood from his personal archives of live performances. The new recordings of these 23 songs sound fresh, which makes for a great album.

Steve Winwood with Hammond B3

“I’m excited about the release because I have recorded every show for many years and so it evoked many memories of the performances and reactions from the fans over the years who have supported me,” Winwood stated. “I suppose it is sort of a tribute to the band members and crew I’ve been fortunate to have with me on the road. The songs were chosen for being the ones most recognized throughout my career which have left an impression and so I hope the record will be a souvenir that brings to mind happy memories of a good time experienced at one of my shows.”

The album features rare, previously unreleased material touching on all aspects of Winwood’s extensive catalog, including contemporary arrangements of the music he created with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, and on his classic solo recordings. The collection channels R&B, Jazz, Funk, Folk, Classic Rock, Pop, and Afro-Caribbean & Brazilian rhythms, highlighting Winwood’s ability to fuse multiple genres into a singular, cohesive musical expression. The album not only showcases Winwood on his seductive Hammond B3, but also illustrates his guitar skills. Following are clips of a few tracks.

Can’t Find My Way Home was written by Winwood and first recorded for Blind Faith’s eponymous 1969 album, the blues rock “super-group’s” only release.

Dear Mr. Fantasy first appeared on Mr. Fantasy, the 1967 debut from Traffic. The tune was written by Winwood and his band mates Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood.

The next track I’d like to highlight is Gimme Some Lovin’, which was released as a single by the Spencer Davis Group in October 1966. Written by Winwood, Spencer Davis and Steve’s older brother Muff Winwood, it is one of my favorite ’60s tunes. Every time I hear that growling Hammond B3, my neck hair stands up.

While You See A Chance is an example of a Winwood pop tune. The song, which was written by Winwood and Will Jennings, first appeared on his second solo album Arc Of a Diver, released in December 1980. Climbing to no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, the record was Winwood’s breakthrough solo album.

The last tune I’d like to call out is the Memphis soul-style Roll With It, one of my favorite Winwood tunes from his solo career. It is the title song of his fifth solo record from June 1988, which became a no. 1 album in the U.S. and has sold more than three million copies. Also released as a single that topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for four weeks in the summer of 1988, the tune was written by Winwood and Jennings. Later, legendary Motown songwriter trio Holland-Dozier-Holland gained co-writing credits due to the song’s similarity to the Junior Walker hit (I’m A) Roadrunner.

Winwood is supporting the album with a tour through the U.S.. which kicks off in Indio, Calif. and is currently set to conclude in Hartford, Conn. on September 23. The U.S. leg will be followed by gigs in Europe in the fall.

Sources: Wikipedia, Steve Winwood press release, JamBase, YouTube