Steve Winwood (1977)

Kronomyth 1.0: NO HITS, NO NAME, NO WONDER. Often lost and forgotten, Steve Winwood’s first official album was the second ill omen of nineteen hundred and seventy-seven, Peter Gabriel’s hodgepodge of pop and pomp being the other. Rolling Stone’s critics gave Winwood a pass on this one, but you’d have to be pretty mathematically challenged to think six songs and no hits after three years could add up to anything but disappointment. Whatever failings it had, at least Gabriel’s album gave an account of his long exodus from Genesis with “Solsbury Hill.” Anyone looking at Steve Winwood’s album, on the other hand, couldn’t help but notice that most of his old Traffic chums had come along for the ride: Chris Blackwell, Jim Capaldi, Reebop, Viv Stanshall. If it looked like the last Traffic album on paper, it sounded better on plastic. Island hired the rhythm section of Andy Newmark and Willie Weeks to flesh out Winwood’s keyboards and guitar, and the results were slightly more energized and, on songs like “Midland Maniac” and “Vacant Chair,” momentarily tantalizing. Unfortunately, Winwood’s self-editing skills hadn’t improved with time; even the better songs felt two minutes too long. That Steve Winwood could make an album like this was no surprise. That it would take him three years to make it was, in fact, pretty surprising. No doubt the album was recorded and released to keep Steve Winwood from disappearing into the “Whatever Happened To…?” files, yet the album leaves the question of his future as a solo artist unanswered. John Barleycorn was dead; that was clear enough. But would Steve Winwood’s star rise again? Only time would tell. Three years, to be exact, when he released the platinum-selling Arc of a Diver.

Original LP Version
A1. Hold On (4:31)
A2. Time Is Running Out (6:29)
A3. Midland Maniac (Steve Winwood) (8:34)
B1. Vacant Chair (Steve Winwood/Viv Stanshall) (6:50)
B2. Luck’s In (5:26)
B3. Let Me Make Something In Your Life (5:48)

All songs written by Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi unless noted.

The Players
Recorded at Basing Street Studios and Island Mobile (except track 4 recorded at Chipping Norton Studios) with Steve Winwood (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Andy Newmark (drums) and Willie Weeks (bass guitar) plus Reebop Kwaku Baah (congas on track 2), Jim Capaldi (percussion and backing vocals on track 2), Brother James (percussion on tracks 1 and 4), Julian (Junior) Marvin (guitar on track 4), Alan Spenner (bass guitar on track 4) and John Susswell (drums on track 4). Newmark and Weeks were a paired set for a lot of players, and had recently supported George Harrison and Ron Wood in the studio. Produced by Steve Winwood and Chris Blackwell, engineered by Phil Brown.

The Plastic
Released on elpee on June 1977 in the UK and US (Island, ILPS 9494), Brazil (Island, 9127 006), Germany and the Netherlands (Island, 28 972 XOT) and Mexico (Island, LA-062); reached #12 on the UK charts and #22 on the US charts. Regional elpees feature a picture innersleeve. Re-released on CD in the US (Island, 842 774) and on digitally remastered CD in 1997 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD-691).

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