Steve Winwood: “Roll With It” (1988)

Kronomyth 6.01: (I’M A) ROLLED WRITER. “Roll With It” was probably the most anticipated single of Steve Winwood’s career and he didn’t disappoint. It’s a powerhouse R&B number that returns to his roots, though it accidentally transplants an old Junior Walker song, “(I’m A) Roadrunner,” in the process. Winwood was an avowed Junior Walker fan from his youth and actually modeled Traffic on Walker and His All-Stars, so the claim isn’t unreasonable. Honestly, the more egregious sin is the video for this song, which is little more than sepia-toned softcore porn choreographed by Paula Abdul, whose own videos with director David Fincher also featured over-the-top sexuality (“Cold Hearted,” “Straight Up”). The video featured the 4:30 single edit version of the song, which removes forty seconds of something. The B side is the album version of “The Morning Side,” which is basically five minutes of mildly pleasant if enervating synthesizer music, itself not a rarity in the works of Winwood.

Original 7-inch single version
A1. Roll With It (Steve Winwood/Will Jennings) (4:30)
B1. The Morning Side (Seve Winwood/Will Jennings) (5:12)

UK, German and Japanese 12-inch and CD singles
1. Roll With It (12” remix)
2. Roll With It (7” version)
3. The Morning Side

US 12-inch single
1. Roll With It (12” remix)
2. Roll With It (steve testifies dub)
3. The Morning Side

UK promotional cassette single
1. Roll With It
2. The Morning Side
3. Holding On

US promotional CD single
1. Roll With It (7” version)
2. Roll With It (LP version)

The Picayune
* This song was nominated for both the “Record of The Year” and “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance” Grammies in 1989, but lost out to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” on both counts.
* The music video was directed by David Fincher (who went on to direct full-length films including Aliens 3, Seven, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and choreographed by Paul Abdul. Fincher had directed Abdul in the videos for “Straight Up,” “Forever Your Girl,” “Cold Hearted” and “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me.”
* Jobete Music Co. sued Winwood in 1990, alleging that “Roll With It” was based on the Junior Walker song, “(I’m A) Roadrunner.” BMI eventually gave cowriting credits to Roadrunner’s original authors, Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland.

The Plastic
Released on 7-inch, 12-inch and CD single in May 1988 in th UK (Virgin, VS/VST/VSTG/VSCD-1085), the US (Virgin, 7-99326/96648), Canada (Virgin, VS-1436), Germany (Virgin, 111.534.100), Italy (Virgin, VIN-45276) and Japan (Virgin, VJD-12011); reached #53 on the UK charts and #1 on the US charts (charted June 11, 1988 for 18 weeks). Regional versions feature picture sleeve. Also released as promotional CD single in 1988 in the US (Virgin, PRCD-9326) featuring edit and LP versions of A side.

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