Sunday, April 17, 2016

Jimmy Page - Wasting My Time

It goes without saying that it's not a bad thing to be considered one of the greatest rock guitarists ever.  I suppose it is also not surprising that Jimmy Page seemed to have trouble figuring out what to do after the demise of Led Zeppelin.

As most readers will know, Jimmy Page became a well-regarded studio musician in Britain in the 1960's before forming Led Zeppelin in 1968.  Books have been written about Led Zep, but suffice to say that they remain one of the most important and influential rock acts of all time.  The sudden end of the group (in 1980, due to the death of drummer John Bonham) left Page without a clear direction, and for much of the next 15 years he embarked on short-lived collaborations.

In 1988, he released his first solo studio album, Outrider.  The album sounded a bit like a (slightly) updated Led Zeppelin, with its stripped down blues/rock sound.  Unfortunately, it didn't do all that well -- the album peaked at #26, and none of the singles charted.

In spite of the lack of success, we've always been partial to "Wasting My Time," which was co-written and sung by John Miles.  Jason Bonham (Drums) and Tony Franklin (Bass) round out the lineup.  While the song doesn't break any new ground, it is a solid track which isn't helped much by the standard performance video.  [As an aside, has there ever been a performance video made where the singer is show less frequently?]

Page continued with short-lived projects through the 1990's, but has re-connected with (Led Zeppelin) singer Robert Plant with greater frequency since the mid-1990's.  He remains active in the music industry as of this writing.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Steve Winwood - Still In The Game

Steve Winwood got his musical start at the tender age of 14 when he joined the Spencer Davis Group, though he would go on to even greater fame in Traffic and Blind Faith.  However, by the mid-1970's his career was on the wane.  In fact, when his first solo album performed poorly in 1977, he apparently considered leaving the music business altogether.

This all changed with the success of his second solo LP, 1980's Arc of a Diver.  The synthesizer-driven pop album sounded fresh and original, and would go on to become a huge hit, reaching #3 on the charts.

Winwood tried to capitalize on this success, releasing Talking Back to the Night in 1982.  This album sounded a bit like a reprise of Arc of a Diver, and did not do as well  (though "Valerie" became a top 10 hit when it was re-released in 1987).  Interestingly, Winwood may have realized that the formula wasn't working, and soon shifted into more soul-influenced pop.  The result was even greater success by the end of the 1980's.

While the LP was not a big hit, we've always been partial to "Still in the Game," a synth pop gem that picked up a bit of airplay on MTV back in the day.  The song became the highest charting single off Talking Back to the Night, but only reached #47 on the charts, while the video was only aired for a short while.

Although Winwood has slowed down in recent years, he remains active in the industry as of this writing, both as a solo artist and in occasional projects with other classic rock stars.

Cool trivia fact:  The woman in the video is Nicole Winwood, who sang backup on "Still in the Game" and was Steve Winwood's wife from 1978 - 1986.  Sadly, she passed away in 2005.