Who would? Winwood.
Last year, my frends Josh and Katy sent me this amazing collection of CDs that contain Billboard's top 100 songs from 1980-1997. That means I own pretty much every song you can imagine from that period. (Except, strangely, "Tell it to My Heart" by Taylor Dayne and "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" by Crystal Waters. You'd think those would've been in the top 100 songs of their respective years. But then you'd also think Pat Benatar would sing "We Belong" in concert. And she didn't. Oh, sure, there's time for all those new songs, but no love for "We Belong?" What the hell?!? At least "Shadows in the Night" was awesome, and... Well, I digress. That concert was four years ago.)
Anyway, I've had these CDs for months, but it's kind of overwhelming, having so many yester-hits at one's disposal. To save my sanity, I only dip into them occasionally, like when I get a jones to hear "The Promise" by When in Rome or when I decide it's time to revisit the early work of Vanessa Williams.
Or when I've got 80s crooners on the brain.
As I was falling asleep two nights ago, I found myself singing Steve Winwood's "Valerie." Why? I don't know. But all I needed was the Top 100 of 1988 to get me rocking.
"Valerie" quickly led to "Roll With It." Which led, as surely as one margarita leads to three, to "Higher Love," "The Finer Things," and "Back in the High Life Again."
Turns out Winwood rules. That's kind of news to me, because when he was at his 1980s peak, I was less than a decade old. I just didn't grasp his magnitude. (Or his cuteness. Check the pictures in this post! Even with 1987 hair, he's dreamy.)
Thankfully, I'm old enough now to appreciate the man. It only takes ten seconds to hear how much better Steve Winwood holds up than blue-eyed-soul contemporaries like Huey Lewis or Hall & Oates. You might hear the occasional synthesizer in "Roll With It" or "Valerie," but there's impeccable craftsmanship at work, too.
Take "Higher Love:" It's buoyant horn section and Chaka Khan's backing vocal make it endure as uplifting gospel-pop. I'm listening to the song as I type this, and it's putting me in a good mood.
And how much more can you ask of pop music?
Now I guess I have to track down songs by Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith, and Traffic, just to see what kind of music he was making before he embarked on a solo career.