Steve Winwood: Roll With It (1988)

Kronomyth 6.0: ROLLING IN IT. Winwood had been on a roll since BITHL. He had gone on tour, divorced his wife, won just about every meaningful Grammy, re-married, became a father, dumped Island for a shiny new multimillion-dollar contract with Virgin, turned 40 and topped the charts with another multiplatinum record, Roll With It. All the while maintaining that he didn’t feel the pressure to make a big hit record with Roll With It, which is likely a lot of hokum. Whether you believe him or not, Roll With It is the very modern model of a big hit record complete with all the trimmings including, this time, the Memphis Horns. The opening title track, which nicks Junior Walker’s “(I’m A) Roadrunner” (original songwriters Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Eddie Holland were later given a credit on the song) kicks the album off on a grand note. That track, “Holding On” and “Don’t You Know What The Night Can Do” gave Winwood three more big hits and continued to make him an 80s radio mainstay. Yet the album is in many ways an artistic step back from BITHL, favoring synthetic white soul over the exotic and uplifting music of his last record. Strip away the gloss provided by the hired studio hands and this is Talking Back To The Night part two. Of course, Virgin wasn’t paying him $12-$13 million to make an artistic statement; they wanted hits and they got what they paid for here. And so will you, provided you’re not expecting more than those three hits and a handful of warm ballads and pop songs delivered in the cool contrivance of late 80s studio frankensteinery popularized by Phil Collins, Howard Jones and others.

Original LP Version
A1. Roll With It (5:17)
A2. Holding On (6:14)
A3. The Morning Side (5:12)
A4. Put On Your Dancing Shoes (5:10)
B1. Don’t You Know What The Night Can Do? (6:53)
B2. Hearts On Fire (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi) (5:14)
B3. One More Morning (4:58)
B4. Shining Song (5:29)

All songs written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings unless noted.

The Players
Steve Winwood (vocals, Fairlight programming, drums, bass guitar, guitar, piano, Hammond organ, Moog bass, keyboards, Mini Moog, horn arrangements), Bashiri Johnson (percussion), Mike Lawler (keyboards), The Memphis Horns (horn arrangements, featuring: Wayne Jackson – trumpet, trombone, Andrew Love – tenor sax), Tessa Niles (backing vocals), John Robinson (drums), Mark Williamson (backing vocals) with Jimmy Bralower (drum machine, percussion), Robby Kilgore (keyboards), Paul Pesco (guitar). Produced by Steve Winwood and Tom Lord Alge; engineered and mixed by Tom Lord Alge (tambourine on track 1). Executive producer: John Clarke; production coordination by Lee Charteris.

Did You Know?

  • Winwood met his second wife, Eugenia Crafton, at a Junior Walker show in 1986 at the Lone Star Café in New York.

The Plastic
Released on elpee, CD and cassette on June 1988 in the UK and Hong Kong (Virgin, V/CDV/TCV-2532), the US (Virgin, V2-90946/-4), Canada (Virgin, VL/VL4-2532), Germany (Virgin, 209.165.630), Greece (Virgin, VG 50373) and Yugoslavia (Jugoton, LSVIRG73254); reached #4 on the UK charts and #1 on the US charts (RIAA certified double platinum record on November 28, 1988). Original elpee features lyrics innersleeve. Re-issued on CD in 1993 in Japan (Virgin, VJCP-23156). Original album design by Mick Haggerty; art direction by Jeff Ayeroff & Mick Haggerty; photography by Herb Ritts.

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