Back in the High Life

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Back in the High Life
Studio album by Steve Winwood
Released June 1986 (1986-06)
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
(1982)
Back in the High Life
(1986)
Chronicles
(1987)
Singles from Back in the High Life
  1. "Higher Love"
    Released: June 20, 1986
  2. "Freedom Overspill"
    Released: 1986
  3. "Split Decision"
    Released: 1986
  4. "Take It as It Comes"
    Released: 1986
  5. "Back in the High Life Again"
    Released: 1986
  6. "Wake Me Up on Judgement Day"
    Released: 1986
  7. "The Finer Things"
    Released: 1986

Back in the High Life is the fourth studio solo album by English rock musician Steve Winwood. It was a top ten hit on the album charts in the United States, peaking at #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 the label, 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". It also features the Eagles guitarist, Joe Walsh performing slide guitar and co-writing the track "Split Decision".

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."

Track listing[edit]

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

No. Title Length
1. "Higher Love"   5:45
2. "Take It as It Comes"   5:20
3. "Freedom Overspill" (Steve Winwood, George Fleming, James Hooker) 5:33
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" (Winwood, Joe Walsh) 5:58
8. "My Love's Leavin'" (Winwood, Viv Stanshall) 5:19

Production[edit]

  • 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
  • Mastered by Ted Jensen

Personnel[edit]

  • Steve Winwood – lead vocals, backing vocals (1,2,3,8), keyboards (1,2,5,8), synthesizer (3,4,6,7), Hammond organ (2,3,7), synth piano (4), synth bass (3), mandolin (4), drum machine programming (1,3-6,8), sequencer programming (1,2,3,5,6), Moog bass (4,7,8), guitar (1,2,5,8), synth solo (5,8)
  • Mickey Curry – drums (1,2)
  • Steve Ferrone – drums (3)
  • John Robinson – drums (4,5,6,7)
  • Carole Steele – tambourine (1,2,7), percussion (3,6,8), congas (5)
  • Jimmy Bralower – additional drum machine programming (3,4,5,7)
  • Rob Mounsey – additional synthesizer (4), additional keyboards (5), synth strings (8)
  • Robbie Kilgore – additional keyboards (5), additional synthesizer (6), synth bell (8)
  • Andrew ThomasPPG Wave Term synthesizer programming (5,6)
  • Joe Walsh – slide guitar (3), guitar (7)
  • Nile Rodgers – rhythm guitar (1)
  • Eddie Martinez – rhythm guitar (3)
  • Paul Pesco – guitar (5)
  • Ira Siegel – guitar (6)
  • David Frank – horn arrangements (1,2,3), synth horns (6)
  • Arif Mardin – synth string arrangements (8)
  • Randy Brecker – trumpet (1,2,3)
  • Lewis Del Gatto – baritone saxophone (3), tenor saxophone (1,2,3)
  • Tom Malone – trombone (1,2,3)
  • Bob Mintzer – tenor saxophone (1,2,3)
  • George Young – alto saxophone (1,2,3)
  • Background vocalists – Chaka Khan (1), James Taylor (4), James Ingram (5), Dan Hartman (5), Jocelyn Brown (6,7), Connie Harvey (6,7) & Mark Stephens (6,7)

Accolades[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1987 Back in the High Life
(performed and produced by Steve Winwood, co-produced by Russ Titelman)
Album of the Year[4] Nominated
Back in the High Life
(engineered by Jason Corsaro, Mike Nicholson and Tom Lord-Alge)
Best Engineered Non-Classical Album[5] Won
"Higher Love"
(composed by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings)
Song of the Year[6] Nominated
"Higher Love"
(performed and produced by Steve Winwood, co-produced by Russ Titelman)
Record of the Year[7] Won
"Higher Love"
(performed by Steve Winwood)
Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male[7] Won
Steve Winwood, Russ Titelman Non-Classical Producer of the Year[6] Nominated
1988 "Back in the High Life Again"
(performed and produced by Steve Winwood, co-produced by Russ Titelman)
Record of the Year[6] Nominated

MTV Video Music Awards[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1987
[8]
"Higher Love" Video of the Year Nominated
Best Male Video Nominated
Viewer's Choice Nominated
"Higher Love"
(Directors: Peter Kagan and Paula Greif)
Best Direction in a Video Nominated
"Higher Love"
(Editors: Peter Kagan, Laura Israel and Glen Lazzarro)
Best Editing in a Video Nominated
"Higher Love"
(Choreographer: Ed Love)
Best Choreography in a Video Nominated
"Higher Love"
(Director of Photography: Peter Kagan)
Best Cinematography in a Video Nominated
1988
[9]
"Back in the High Life Again" Best Male Video Nominated

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United Kingdom (BPI)[26] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[27] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ruhlmann, William (2011). "Back in the High Life - Steve Winwood | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1986). "Steve Winwood". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  3. ^ White, Timothy (1986). "Steve Winwood: Back In The High Life : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "GRAMMYs' Best Albums 1980–1989". grammy.org. 4 February 2008. 
  5. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Hunt, Dennis (9 January 1987). "GRAMMY NOMINATIONS: HIGHS AND LOWS : Winwood, Gabriel and Simon Garner Most Nominations". articles.latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards: 1987 VMA Winners". Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards: 1988 VMA Winners". Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  11. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 45, No. 3" (PHP). RPM. 11 October 1986. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life" (ASP). dutchcharts.nl. MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1988" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "charts.org.nz Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "swedishcharts.com Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life – hitparade.ch" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  17. ^ "Steve Winwood > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "Allmusic: Back in the High Life : Charts & Awards". allmusic.com. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "Album Search: Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1986". RPM. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1986" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  23. ^ "Billboard.BIZ  – Year-end Charts – Billboard 200 – 1986". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  24. ^ "Top 100 Albums of '87". RPM. 26 December 1987. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1987". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "British album certifications – Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 October 2013.  Enter Back in the High Life in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  27. ^ "American album certifications – Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 10 October 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH