1980 Albums

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Arc Of A Diver > Winwood, Steve

December, 1980
Island Records
Three years had passed between the time Steve Winwood broke up Traffic and the arrival of his first solo album, Steve Winwood, in June 1977. Recorded with a variety of musicians including Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark, it sold moderately in the US, reaching No. 22 in the charts while rising to No. 12 in the UK. Full of soulful tunes and his golden voice, it was a fine if somewhat understated record. Winwood went completely solo for his next album, Arc Of A Diver, writing, performing and producing the music himself. The only outside collaborations were with lyricists Will Jennings, George Flemming and Vivian Stanshall. Propelled by the catchy single “While You See a Chance” b/w “Vacant Chair,” the album was a commercial hit, rising to No. 3 in the US charts and No. 13 in the UK. Along with the title track, they reveal Winwood’s formula for success: slightly bright and funky songs, awash with pleasant synths and his amazing lead work on the Multimoog-it’s smart, sophisticated and palatable pop perfectly crafted for the aging baby boomer generation. “Second-Hand Woman” follows the same formula, while “Slowdown Sundown” looks back to his Traffic past. “Spanish Dancer” and “Night Train” both ride a thoroughly modern groove over their lengthier arrangements. Winwood’s voice is front and center, confident and always-soulful: completely suited for radio and MTV. He would continue to collaborate with Jennings on his 1982 album Talking Back To The Night, charting at No. 6 in the UK, one of his best appearances there since his time with Traffic. After moving to New York a few years later, Winwood would soar to the top of the charts worldwide in 1986 with the fantastic album Back In The High Life. Teeming with numerous hit singles that littered the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, the album would also earn Winwood three Grammy Awards. With now-predictable success, Winwood would sign to Virgin Records for his next few albums, ending his long standing affiliation with Island Records.