Great Rock Albums of 1982: Steve Winwood- Talking Back to the Night
Most of us in our lifetimes have been influenced to watch a film or buy an album because someone or some entity we trust had constantly sung its praises. I know it has happened to me. In early September of 1982, I was given 24 hours bed rest after having two of my wisdom teeth removed. The Navy doctor who performed the task said it was the toughest extraction he ever had to do, those teeth were really in there. Moving on, during that 24 hour period and drifting in and out of bouts of sleep, I had the radio as a companion. The local station outside the base, WXQR in Jacksonville, North Carolina, kept plugging the new Steve Winwood album, “Talking Back to the Night.” The one deejay did this so much that I felt compelled to listen to the album and even give it its place in history on here.
To this day, I don’t think if I would have listened to album if it hadn’t been so heavily plugged on the radio. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent album and Steve Winwood is a very talented musician. Like Todd Rundgren, he plays all the instruments himself except that he does use drum machines unlike Todd who actually plays the drums. Also there is the fact that there are no guitar solos on the album and Todd can also shred. But this isn’t about Todd and I shouldn’t contrast the two really. It’s just that “Talking Back to the Night” wouldn’t have been an album I normally would have listened to, it’s not hard rock enough for me. If anything, I appreciate slightly more now that I am mellowing a bit with old age. I stress a little, I have the Sepultura “Greatest Hits” CD waiting for me in the car.
Following the 1982 tradition, “Talking Back to the Night” opens with the hit single “Valerie.” It is an okay song and I remember it being played on the radio back then. It sets the stage for the rest of the album. The synthesizers dominate the entire album and while I get a little disappointed at the lack of a power chord from a guitar, the synthesizers are expertly done. You can’t take anything away from Steve in that regard. Apart from “Valerie,” the two tracks that stood out for me on the album were “Help Me Angel” and the title track. I have long ago come to the conclusion that while it’s not a rock album in the traditional sense, it’s not a total synth pop album either. I think it’s one of those albums you can play at a party where there is a wide range of musical tastes among the attendees and no one would complain.
2. Big Girls Walk Away
3. And I Go
4. While There’s a Candle Burning
5. Still in the Game
6. It Was Happiness
7. Help Me Angel
8. Talking Back to the Night
9. There’s a River
Steve Winwood- synthesizers, lead and backing vocals, drum machines, guitar, keyboards
Like A Flock of Seagulls, it could be said that Steve Winwood help set the stage to the descent of music into synth pop. I don’t think this was Steve’s intention here. He may have been going along with the popular music of the time but he is too talented of a musician to have played that cheaply. This album is living proof of that.
Next post: Fleetwood Mac- Mirage
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