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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BACK ON HIGHER GROUND
It seems as though we forget too easily just how vital Steve Winwood is. His release rate is sporadic, and as the saying goes, `out of sight, out of mind.' Nevertheless, he's been providing us with great music since the British Invasion (yeah, it's been that long) as a member of the Spencer Davis Group, then with Traffic, then Blind Faith, then the revised Traffic, and...
Published on June 27, 2008 by Thomas D. Ryan

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89 of 119 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Steve Winwood Taking It Softly!
There are two types of Steve Winwood music, and individual taste will dictate whether you will like this cd or not. If you are the Winwood fan who perfers his R&B pop sound,["Valarie", "Higher Love", "Roll With It", "Gimmie Some Lovin" etc], you are going to more than likely find this cd a total bore. If you perfer his soothing layed back jazzy traffic feel to his...
Published on May 1, 2008 by Anthony Accordino


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BACK ON HIGHER GROUND, June 27, 2008
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
It seems as though we forget too easily just how vital Steve Winwood is. His release rate is sporadic, and as the saying goes, `out of sight, out of mind.' Nevertheless, he's been providing us with great music since the British Invasion (yeah, it's been that long) as a member of the Spencer Davis Group, then with Traffic, then Blind Faith, then the revised Traffic, and finally, as a solo artist. His music has always been relaxed and reflective, but with a strong rhythmic drive and a timeless quality that keeps his music relevant through all sorts of stylistic changes. He may not make a lot of records, but he always makes good ones, so it shouldn't surprise me to learn that "Nine Lives" is as good as it is. The surprise is that it's even better than I had any right to expect.
"Nine Lives" sounds a lot like second-generation Traffic, with less noodling and more focus. The songs build on blues riffs, jazz, and folk-rock, all coupled with African and Latin influences. There is precision and elegance to virtually every track on this album, without a single extraneous note. It all makes perfect sense, from the nailed down rhythmic grooves to the song lengths, which linger only long enough to make you want more. "Nine Lives" hearkens back to an era when good music defined our culture, but it doesn't sound the least bit dated or forced. In the best sense, this album could have been released in 1972. With nine tracks passing by in approximately fifty minutes, it's even the right length for a classic vinyl album.
From a topical perspective, Winwood is still relying on the imagery that has served him well in the past. There are lots of metaphors here - flying, drowning (or more specifically, not drowning), raging seas and struggling to find higher ground. He's not a lyrical genius, but the songs are so strong that his words take on a sense of import, and most importantly, he sounds like he really is trying to convey something honestly. Apparently, he still feels as though he's struggling to hang on to something (Relevance? Sanity in a world without pity?), yet the music is never less than relaxed and confident. Is "Nine Lives" as good as his previous solo albums? Definitely. It is certainly his best record since "Arc of a Diver," maybe even since "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys." There is no filler here, just 100% vintage Steve Winwood, and that is better than good enough for me. A Tom Ryan
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous surprise, May 10, 2008
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
While I've always had an appreciation for all aspects of Steve Winwood's music (solo and non), I've never really gone nuts for any of it. Until now...

Nine Lives is simply a fantastic album. The instrumentation is sparse, made up of mostly Winwood on Hammond and guitar, a drummer, and a percussionist. Occasionally, he's joined by a sax or flute player, and on one track Eric Clapton jumps in for a smokin' guitar solo. The vocals consist of Steve, solo, without a doubled lead vocal track or any background vocals. It's a fairly minimalist arrangement, but the sparseness just makes it that much more effective.

The groove is mostly laid back, and the songs are extended into mostly five to seven minute explorations of a musical idea. The album isn't flashy, and Winwood doesn't seem to be trying to impress anyone with his skills. He's just out to have a good time, and make some music that he enjoys. It translates to a remarkable album.

Nine Lives is an unexpected joy. I can't seem to listen to it enough, and I know I can't recommend it highly enough. It takes a lot for an album to really blow me away. Nine Lives blows me away...
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you liked him in "Blind Faith" and his jazzy phases, this CD is for you, May 4, 2008
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
I've liked Steve Winwood through most of his career, including Blind Faith, Traffic, and his solo music. I'm not as much a fan of the pop tunes as I am the jazzier, bluesier music.

The single of "Dirty City" a gritty Blind Faith style number with his old friend Eric Clapton led this CD out into radioland. It's my favorite cut of the collection and the reason I bought the CD.

"Fly" is lovely. The flute at the end of the song is compelling and really conjures up the image of flight.

I'd like to see "At Times we Forget" get some airplay. It's got strong lyrics and is a good listen.

Check out the samples on this page and see what you think. While this CD is mostly jazz and blues influenced, fans of Winwood's pop may find a few cuts they really enjoy--and the price for this collection is excellent.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They call me mellow yellow, July 13, 2008
By 
Junglies (Morrisville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
This is another fine piece of work from Steve Winwood, who's unique voice and keyboard playing have blessed the world for over forty years.

After all these years it is difficult for an artist such as he to stir up the emotions of youth but the experience of the years of playing with some of the best in the world shows through.

For me this is a direct descendent from the Traffic years with the jazzy and funky orientated pieces and the homage to Chris Woods with the hauntingly beautiful flute contibutions. I may be reading too much into this by suggesting that this is Winwood's Eulogy to his former bandmates, most of whom are no longer with us.

I particularly enjoyed Hungry Man which could well have been a jam with the Grateful Dead from their second album Anthem of the Sun.

This album grows and grows with repeated playing and at higher volumes and is particularly appropriate in these long hot days of summer here in North carolina. If you liked High heeled Boys or On the Road, then you will like this.
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89 of 119 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Steve Winwood Taking It Softly!, May 1, 2008
By 
Anthony Accordino (Massapequa Park, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
There are two types of Steve Winwood music, and individual taste will dictate whether you will like this cd or not. If you are the Winwood fan who perfers his R&B pop sound,["Valarie", "Higher Love", "Roll With It", "Gimmie Some Lovin" etc], you are going to more than likely find this cd a total bore. If you perfer his soothing layed back jazzy traffic feel to his music, you are probably going to find this cd enjoyable. Having said that, after listening to this cd a few times, I find the cd to be somewhat uneventful. Well played and sung, but nothing that is going to be memorable, or even ear catching for that matter. Most of the music comes across as bland. I found the best song on the cd to be "At Times We Forget", which at least grabs the listeners ear, and is the most listenable track on this collection. "Dirty City", is another fine song, and features Eric Clapton, and predictably sounds as if it came right out of the Blind Faith era. The rest of the songs basically sound the same, with that jazzy slow uninspired sound. Steve Winwood is a great talent, but sometimes I feel he goes overboard with this smooth jazz sound that I also feel takes the fire out of many of his live shows. I do not want to sound negative, but this cd is nothing near his best work and is average at best.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some semi-Finer Things, April 29, 2008
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
The new Winwood CD opens in fitting fashion, with "I'm Not Drowning," a catchy acoustic blues number co-written and entirely performed by Steve (the one-man band act he's been known to do over the years). The song is one of three standouts for me on the new long-player, the others being the soulful "Raging Sea," featuring excellent guitar work by Jose Pires de Almeida Neto, and the much-heralded Winwood-Clapton single, "Dirty City." Some of the other songs at first seemed less substantial, such as a pleasant, smooth 7-minute tune called "Fly," but I've appreciated those songs more on the 2nd and 3rd listen. This is not Winwood's all-time best recorded work, but it's a respectable enough collection of new songs from a former kid prodigy who's still putting out good material in his fifth decade as a professional musician.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, May 9, 2008
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
Definitely blues/jazz sound and feel. It is refreshing to hear an artist go back to his early sounds that defined him, when so many seem to want to distance themselves from their early work and sound. I love every track. The music is outstanding throughout, blending great guitar sounds, of course keyboards, along with great drums/percussion intruments, and flutes. The songs sound similar only in that the blues/jazz feel is always there. But each one has its own strengths and riffs. As has been stated, if you like the pop/rock sound, you might not enjoy it. But this is true musicianship at its finest, and I can't help but tap along and feel a great mood drift down smoothly over me, just like all the sounds on these songs do. This one's on my favorite shelf already.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm Not Drowning"... w/ killer guitar riffs!, September 11, 2008
This review is from: Nine Lives (MP3 Music)
Jose Pires De Almeida Neto plays a killer guitar! The riffs on "I'm Not Drowning" are absolutely hypnotic*. Forced me to finally uncover my electronic keyboard (groan... but it's modern times) and pull out the manual and try to learn how to play it just to keep up with this fantastic song. Haven't heard anything quite like it in years; jazz and rhythm and blues all together now, don't stop, don't stop, keep it going... Fantastic! Jose Neto is a incredible guitarist, plays so simply yet melodicly it's like being thrown in the air and borne aloft by many wings.

I believe Jose backed Harry Belafonte for twenty years, and has been with Winwood for the last ten. Lives in Marin County with his wife and travels to England to record, rehearse and hit the road with Winwood. Sounds like a good life for all. Highly recommended, with the entire band at their finest on this particular song. My opinion, anyway. * * * * *

Note: for guitar enthusiasts, you can find the guitar tabulature at: tabs (dot) guitarworld (dot) com

[...]

*I may be wrong about this: Perry Bookstein comments:
"Winwood plays all instruments including guitar on "I'm Not Drowning" but Jose is great!!!"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steve's consistent, July 5, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
The more I listen to this the more I like it. Strictly from a fan's point of view, I refuse to be hypercritical. This CD runs the gamut in styles ranging from his Low Spark days to Back In The High Life. Dirty City, predictably, is a great cut with Clapton, but give the rest of it a chance to grow on you. Winwood's genius is still much more than just a flicker.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Album that gets better with every listening, May 2, 2008
This review is from: Nine Lives (Audio CD)
Well worth the 5-6 year wait and I can't stop playing this album. Its thematically similar to Steve's last album - the excellent About Time - but even more innovative and enjoyable.

When I first heard About Time, it looks 10+ listenings before I could appreciate all the songs. Its the same thing on this one. The music arrangements are complex and rich with standout work by the whole band - Steve, Jose Neto, Karl, Paul and Richard. The lyrics are very interesting with a spiritual feel.

As in any great album, its hard to single out one song or musician as being the key person - Steve's vocals and hammond organ work, Jose Neto's playful guitar grooves, Karl's incredible percussion, Paul's haunting flute and sax work, and Richard's drum work and Peter's lyrics - a real team effort.

As Steve stated in an inteview, the album came out of music that the band played in their Live sessions and it has that loose and innovative feel to it. I went to all their concerts in SF in 05 and LA in 06 and the live set has the best jamming I've heard in years. I hope Steve's successes inspire his contemporaries to experiment with more collaborative, soulful music instead of chasing radio hits or just playing the old hits.

I'm looking forward to Steve's tour with Tom Petty this summer. You know its a great album when I'm looking forward to hearing the new songs live more than the Traffic classics. Keep the new music coming, Steve and the band and thanks for a great album!
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Nine Lives
Nine Lives by Steve Winwood (Audio CD - 2008)
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