Back in the High Life

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Back in the High Life
Studio album by Steve Winwood
Released June 1986
Recorded Unique Recording Studio, Power Station, NYC, Netherturkdonic Studio, Gloucestershire UK Autumn 1985-Spring 1986
Genre Rock, Blue-eyed soul
Length 45:03
Label Island
Producer Russ Titelman, Steve Winwood
Steve Winwood chronology
Talking Back to the Night
Back in the High Life

Back in the High Life is the fourth solo album by English rock musician Steve Winwood. It was a top ten hit on the album charts in the United States, hitting #3, and has sold over five million copies. The single "Higher Love" topped the singles chart and won the Grammy Award for "Record of the Year"; "Back in the High Life Again" (US #13), "The Finer Things" (US #8, the second biggest hit from the album), and "Freedom Overspill" (US #20) were also big hits. This was Winwood's last studio album with Island Records after 20 years with the label. The album also features collaborations in backing vocals, featuring Chaka Khan in "Higher Love", and James Taylor in "Back in the High Life Again".

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings except where noted

  1. "Higher Love" – 5:45
  2. "Take It as It Comes" – 5:20
  3. "Freedom Overspill" – 5:33 (Winwood, George Fleming, James Hooker)
  4. "Back in the High Life Again" – 5:33
  5. "The Finer Things" – 5:47
  6. "Wake Me Up on Judgement Day" – 5:48
  7. "Split Decision" – 5:58 (Winwood, Joe Walsh)
  8. "My Love's Leavin'" – 5:19 (Winwood, Viv Stanshall)


  • Produced By Steve Winwood & Russ Titelman
  • Mixed By Tom Lord-Alge
  • Engineered By Jon Wolfson, Steve Rinkoff, Mike Nicholson, Scott Mabuchi, Chris Lord-Alge, Tom Lord-Alge, Jeff Lord-Alge, Bruce Lampcov, Dave Greenberg, John Goldberger, Rob Eaton, Jason Corsaro, Nobby Clark, Ed Bruder, Sean Chennery, Jim Boyer & Claude "Swifty" Achille

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau C[2]
Rolling Stone favorable[3]

Back in the High Life received very positive reviews. Timothy White of Rolling Stone magazine glowed that "With Back in the High Life, Steve Winwood has created the first undeniably superb record of an almost decade-long solo career", criticizing only the delay in its release. Karyn Albano, writing for the website "Classic Rock Reviews" went even further, designating it Album of the Year, with the summary description that "the album achieves that elusive goal of combining great songs that will stand the test of time while also catering to the commercial appeal of the day." Long-time critic Robert Christgau was less charitable, however, remarking that "this is the fate of a wunderkind with more talent than brains."





Year Chart Position
1986 The Billboard 200 3
1986 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 46


Year Single Chart Position
1986 "Higher Love" Billboard Hot 100 1
1986 "Higher Love" Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
1986 "Higher Love" Adult Contemporary 7
1986 "Freedom Overspill" Mainstream Rock Tracks 4
1986 "Freedom Overspill" Billboard Hot 100 20
1986 "Freedom Overspill" Hot Dance Music/Club Play 28
1986 "Freedom Overspill" Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 34
1986 "Take It as It Comes" Mainstream Rock Tracks 33
1986 "Back in the High Life Again" Adult Contemporary 1
1987 "Back in the High Life Again" Billboard Hot 100 13
1987 "Back in the High Life Again" Mainstream Rock Tracks 19
1987 "The Finer Things" Adult Contemporary 1
1987 "The Finer Things" Mainstream Rock Tracks 5
1987 "The Finer Things" Billboard Hot 100 8


  1. ^ Ruhlmann, William (2011). "Back in the High Life - Steve Winwood | AllMusic". Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1986). "Steve Winwood". Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  3. ^ White, Timothy (1986). "Steve Winwood: Back In The High Life : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 7 August 2011.