Steve Winwood: About Time (2003)

Kronomyth 10.0: BETTER LATIN THAN NEVER. I usually mix Cream, Traffic and Santana together at some point, but in the case of Winwood rarely and not since his first solo album (“Luck’s In”). The cover of About Time looks like a Santana album. Turns out it sounds like one too. Joined by Brazilian guitarist Jose Neto and Santana drummer/percussionist Walfredo Reyes Jr., Steve Winwood is back behind his Hammond and back on top of his game. The post-High Life albums were generally listless, though by most accounts Junction Seven was a departure from formula. About Time is a new journey (for Winwood) into Latin music, during which he rediscovers the musical passion missing from most of his albums. As he sings on the opening song (“Different Light”), “I had overlooked a part of me,” presumably the part that embraced change and experimentation over comfort and control. This album celebrates its return. The sounds literally leap off the disc, and never do I recall that Hammond so clear and commanding. Honestly, I felt Winwood and Phil Collins had both lapsed into ennui, and all but counted them out of the game. What I didn’t count on was Winwood making an album this vibrant and engaging. It may not have produced a hit single (blame the six-year span or lack of a major-label push), but there’s a lot on here to like: “Different Light,” “Final Hour,” “Phoenix Rising,” “Walking On.” Also included is a cover of Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together,” which had been covered earlier by Santana. Cynics might see this as a fashionably late Latin vacation, but I for one am glad to be back in a world where the question “What will Steve Winwood do next?” isn’t so easily answered.

The Songs
1. Different Light (Steve Winwood) (6:35)
2. Cigano (For The Gypsies) (Steve Winwood/Jose Neto) (6:20)
3. Take It To The Final Hour (Steve Winwood/Anthony Crawford) (5:36)
4. Why Can’t We Live Together (Timmy Thomas) (6:39)
5. Domingo Morning (Steve Winwood/Jose Neto) (5:06)
6. Now That You’re Alive (Steve Winwood/Eugenia Winwood) (5:29)
7. Bully (Steve Winwood/Eugenia Winwood) (5:40)
8. Phoenix Rising (Steve Winwood/William Topley) (7:26)
9. Horizon (Steve Winwood/Eugenia Winwood) (4:31)
10. Walking On (Steve Winwood/Anthony Crawford) (4:54)
11. Silvia (Who Is She?) (Steve Winwood/Jose Neto) (11:25)

JPN CD reissue bonus track
12. Different Light (radio edit)

UK Dual Disc bonus tracks (2005)
12. Dear Mr. Fantasy (live)
13. Talking Back To The Night (live)
14. Different Light (live)

UK bonus CD single tracks (2004)
1. Dear Mr. Fantasy (live)
2. Why Can’t We Live Together (live)
3. Voodoo Chile

The Players
Steve Winwood (vocals and Hammond organ), Jose Piresde Aleimda Neto (guitar), Walfredo Reyes Jr. (drums, percussion) with Richard Bailey (timbales), Karl Denson (saxophone, flute), Karl Vanden Bossche (congas). Produced by Steve Winwood; mixed by James Towler; engineered by George Shilling; associate producer: Johnson Somerset.

The Pictures
Artwork by Michael Rios. Photography by Gordon Jackson. CD booklet design by Andy Dutlinger and Mark Berger at Madison House Design.

The Plastic
Released on compact disc on June 17, 2003 in the UK (Sanctuary, SANCD-130) and the US (Wincraft, WM0001); reached #126 on the US charts. Also released as promotional compact disc in 2003 in the UK (Sanctuary, SANPR-130) and the US (Wincraft, MVRTOS-03). Released as expanded compact disc in 2003 in Japan (Sony, SICP-414) with one bonus track. Released on expanded compact disc in 2004 in the UK (Sanctuary, SANDD-130) with bonus CD single. Released on expanded Dual Disc CD in 2005 in the UK (BMG, 74695) with three bonus tracks. Released on compact disc/dvd set in 2005 in Japan (Sony, SICP-1859) with two bonus DVDs.

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