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Steve Winwood Nine Lives with Eric Clapton

It was always a surprise when listeners to Spencer Davis classics such as I'm a Man or Gimme Some Lovin saw a photo of the singer. The surprise was how young he was (15!) and that he was white. The vocals sounded as if they came from an older black man.

Those vocals and the signature Hammond B-3 organ would then reappear with the legendary Traffic for tunes such as Dear Mr. Fantasy, Freedom Rider, Glad, Empty Pages and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.

Winwood became part of the supergroup Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech but they only released one album with cuts such as Can't Find My Way Home and Sea of Joy.

Winwood's solo career included such hits as Arc of the Diver, While You See a Chance and the biggest hit, the Billboard # 1 Higher Love.

In July 2007, Winwood got together again with Eric Clapton, in Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. They continued their mini-reunion with 3 sold out shows at Madison Square Garden.

Winwood recently signed with Columbia Records and just released his latest solo effort, Nine Lives.

The first cut, I'm Not Drowning, has a repetitive riff that almost sounds like early Fleetwood Mac, except with Steve's bluesy whales over it. Steve plays all instruments on the track.

Fly has a wicked sax intro. If you had to compare Winwood's voice to someone, the closest match might be Peter Gabriel - especially in this song. This could have come from a Traffic album.

Raging Sea is funky with Steve's familiar Hammond organ featured.

Dirty City has a rougher, dirtier guitar and the same wicked percussion. Slowhand Eric Clapton plays some wicked guitar especially in the last few minutes of the song.

We're All Looking and Hungry Man are jazzy jams and the flute on Secrets makes it sound like Traffic.

At Times We Do Forget and Other Shore close out the album and continue the jazzy, funky sounds.

It's classic stuff from a group of talented and skilled musicians - and then throw that unique voice (whether you call him Stevie or Steve) on top of it all.

You are more likely to put on the entire album then pick out singles from iTunes for an MP3 mix. It's consistent throughout - no great hits but not many weak spots either.

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