Back in the High Life

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Back in the High Life
Back in the High Life.jpg
Studio album by Steve Winwood
Released May 30, 1986
Recorded Autumn 1985-Spring 1986
Studio Unique Recording Studios, The Power Station, Right Track Recording, Giant Studio, NYC; Netherturkdonic Studio, Gloucestershire UK
Genre Rock, blue-eyed soul, pop
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 Judgment Day"
    Released: 1986
  7. "The Finer Things"
    Released: 1986

Back in the High Life is the fourth solo studio album by English rock musician Steve Winwood. Released in 1986, 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. After 20 years with the label, this was Winwood's last studio album with Island Records. 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
SourceRating
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert ChristgauC[2]
Rolling Stonefavorable[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 tracks written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings except where noted.

No.TitleLength
1."Higher Love"5:45
2."Take It as It Comes"5:20
3."Freedom Overspill" (writers: 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 Judgment Day"5:48
7."Split Decision" (Winwood, Joe Walsh)5:58
8."My Love's Leavin'" (Winwood, Vivian Stanshall)5:19

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from the AllMusic credits[4]

  • Steve Winwood – lead vocals, backing vocals (1–3, 8), synthesizer (1, 3, 4, 6, 7), drum machine programming (1, 3–6, 8), sequencer programming (1, 2, 3, 5, 6), keyboards (2, 5, 8), Hammond organ (2, 3, 7), guitar (2, 8), synth bass (3), piano (4), mandolin (4), Moog bass (4, 7, 8), synth solo (5, 8)
  • John Robinson – drums (1, 4–7)
  • Mickey Curry – drums (2)
  • Steve Ferrone – drums (3)
  • Carole Steele – tambourine (1, 2, 7), congas (1, 5), percussion (3, 6, 8)
  • Jimmy Bralower – additional drum machine programming (1, 3–6)
  • Philippe Saisse – synth bass (1)
  • Rob Mounsey – additional synthesizer (4), additional keyboards (5), synth strings (8)
  • Robbie Kilgore – additional keyboards (5), additional synthesizer (6, 7), synth bell (8), synthesizer and sequencer programming
  • Andrew Thomas – PPG Wave Term synthesizer programming (1, 5, 6)
  • Nile Rodgers – rhythm guitar (1, 6)
  • Eddie Martinez – lead guitar (1), rhythm guitar (3)
  • Joe Walsh – slide guitar (3), guitar (7)
  • Paul Pesco – guitar (5)
  • Ira Siegel – lead guitar (6)
  • David Frank – synth horns (1, 6), horn arrangements (2, 3)
  • Arif Mardin – synth string arrangements (8)
  • Randy Brecker – trumpet (2, 3)
  • Lewis Del Gatto – baritone and tenor saxophones (2, 3)
  • Tom Malone – trombone (2, 3)
  • Bob Mintzer – tenor saxophone (2, 3)
  • George Young – alto saxophone (2, 3)
  • Chaka Khan – background vocals (1)
  • James Taylor – background vocals (4)
  • James Ingram – background vocals (5)
  • Dan Hartman – background vocals (5)
  • Jocelyn Brown – background vocals (6, 7)
  • Connie Harvey – background vocals (6, 7)
  • Mark Stephens – background vocals (6, 7)
  • Steve Winwood – producer
  • Russ Titelman – producer
  • Laura Loncteaux – production coordinator
  • Jill Dell'Abate – assistant production coordinator
  • Tom Lord-Alge – mixing, engineer
  • Jason Corsaro – engineer
  • Claude "Swifty" Achille – assistant engineer
  • Ed Bruder – assistant engineer
  • Jeff Lord-Alge – assistant engineer
  • John Goldberger – assistant engineer
  • Rob Eaton – assistant engineer
  • Roy Hendrickson – assistant engineer
  • Scott Mabuchi – assistant engineer
  • Sean Chernery – assistant engineer
  • Steve Rinkoff – assistant engineer
  • Shizuko Orishige – assistant engineer
  • Jon Wolfson – additional engineering
  • Chris Lord-Alge – additional engineering
  • Bruce Lampcov – additional engineering
  • Dave Greenberg – additional engineering
  • Nobby Clark – additional engineering
  • Jim Boyer – additional engineering
  • Malcolm Pollack – additional engineering
  • Ted Jensen – mastering
  • Jeffrey Kent Ayeroff – art direction
  • Jeri McManus – art direction, cover design
  • Arthur Elgort – photography

Accolades[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/work Award Result
1987 Back in the High Life
(performed and produced by Steve Winwood, co-produced by Russ Titelman)
Album of the Year[5] Nominated
Back in the High Life
(engineered by Jason Corsaro, Mike Nicholson and Tom Lord-Alge)
Best Engineered Non-Classical Album[6] Won
"Higher Love"
(composed by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings)
Song of the Year[7] Nominated
"Higher Love"
(performed and produced by Steve Winwood, co-produced by Russ Titelman)
Record of the Year[8] Won
"Higher Love"
(performed by Steve Winwood)
Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male[8] Won
Steve Winwood, Russ Titelman Non-Classical Producer of the Year[7] Nominated
1988 "Back in the High Life Again"
(performed and produced by Steve Winwood, co-produced by Russ Titelman)
Record of the Year[9] Nominated

MTV Video Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/work Award Result
1987
[10]
"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
[11]
"Back in the High Life Again" Best Male Video Nominated

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[28] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[29] 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. ^ "Back in the High Life – Steve Winwood | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "GRAMMYs' Best Albums 1980–1989". grammy.org. 4 February 2008. Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b 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. 
  8. ^ a b "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Hilburn, Robert (13 January 1989). "U2, Jackson Top Grammy Nominees : No Major Embarrassment Seen in Top Categories". articles.latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards: 1987 VMA Winners". Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "MTV Video Music Awards: 1988 VMA Winners". Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  13. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 45, No. 3" (PHP). RPM. 11 October 1986. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life" (ASP). dutchcharts.nl. MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1988" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "charts.org.nz Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "swedishcharts.com Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life – hitparade.ch" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "Steve Winwood > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "Allmusic: Back in the High Life : Charts & Awards". allmusic.com. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Album Search: Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1986". RPM. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  23. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1986" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  24. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  25. ^ "Billboard.BIZ  – Year-end Charts – Billboard 200 – 1986". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 9 December 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  26. ^ "Top 100 Albums of '87". RPM. 26 December 1987. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  27. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1987". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  28. ^ "British album certifications – Steve Winwood – Back in the High Life". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 October 2013.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Enter Back in the High Life in the search field and then press Enter.
  29. ^ "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.