Steve Winwood was also a member of Blind Faith and Go. There were also other bands in that Winwood played a crucial role in it. There was Eric Clapton and The Powerhouse, Ginger Baker’s Airforce, and of course all the other rock albums he appeared on as a guest artist. To put it mildly, Steve Winwood defined classic rock for multiple decades.
With an artist such as Steve Winwood who has played such an important role in so many classic rock bands, composing a list of only ten songs is a bit ridiculous. There is no way that we could put together ten songs from all those different bands he’s worked with and his solo career; it just doesn’t make sense. Consequently, this list of top 10 Steve Winwood songs list will only include music that he released on his solo records. Even picking just 10 songs from his solo records is difficult. However, that’s what we will attempt to do and have a grand old time doing it.
# 10 – Roll With It
We open up our top 10 Steve Winwood songs list with the first of two number one singles that Steve Winwood enjoyed during his solo musical career. In 1988, Steve Winwood released the rhythm and blues infused throwback song “Roll With It.” The song became a huge hit for Steve Winwood hitting number one on the United States Billboard Top 100 music charts. Utilizing the Memphis Horns, the song beckons back to Steve Winwood’s late 1960 days with its rhythm and blues roots.
“Roll With It,” was written by Steve Winwood and Will Jennings. However, a lawsuit brought on by Motown Records claimed that the song sounded just like Junior Walker & the All-Stars hit “I’m a Roadrunner.” Both parties settled and the writers of “I’m a Roadrunner,” Holland-Dozier-Holland were given a partial writing credit on the song.
# 9 – Don’t You Know What The Night Can Do?
We continue our Top 10 Steve Winwood songs list with another track from the Roll With It album. Based on the strength of the album’s opening single hitting number one, Steve Winwood found himself with another top 10 hit with the release of “Don’t You Know What The Night Can Do?” as the album’s second single. The song hit the number six position on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song hit number one on the Billboard Top 100 Mainstream Rock Songs charts and number two on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.
# 8 – Dirty City
The most recent song chronologically to appear on this Top 10 Steve Winwood songs list was released in 2008 on Steve Winwood’s Nine Lives album. In 2019, the album Nine Lives still stands as Steve Winwood’s last studio album release. The song “Dirty City,” also featured Eric Clapton on guitar which adds massive bonus points to anything Eric Clapton plays on. The song was welcomed on rock radio as it hit number one on the Adult Alternative Rock charts in 2008.
# 7 – Hold On
Perhaps the one song on this Top 10 Steve Winwood songs list that many people may be unfamiliar with is Steve Winwood’s first solo single entitled “Hold On.” The song was released on Steve Winwood’s first solo album called simply Steve Winwood. The song “Hold On,” was written by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi.
“Hold On,” is an interesting listen. One can easily hear the influence of the disco era which was peaking in 1977. It’s not disco, but the sound is there within that 1970s soul groove that artists like Boz Scaggs utilized to perfection.
# 6 – One and Only Man
Steve Winwood’s single “One and Only Man,” was released in 1990 on the Refugees of the Heart album. The Refugees of the Heart would become Steve Winwood’s last album to achieve Gold status for record sales. The song “One and Only Man,” hit number one on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks charts. The song was written by Steve Winwood and his ex-Traffic bandmate Jim Capaldi.
# 5 – The Finer Things
As we sail into the second half of this Top 10 Steve Winwood songs list, we turn to Winwood’s solo album masterpiece. In 1986, Steve Winwood released the album Back In The High Life Again. It was an album that contain eight brilliantly written songs. The songs were matched by the album’s pristine production and virtuoso musicianship and performance. While it easily stands as Steve Winwood’s greatest solo work, some would argue it stands above everything else he ever recorded. Out of the album’s eight songs recorded for the record, seven of them were released as singles.
“The Finer Things,” was the seventh final single released from the record. Even as the seventh single released from the record, the song still scored high commercially. The song “The Finer Things,” was a top 10 hit for Steve Winwood as it peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also hit number one on the adult contemporary charts in 1987. Not bad for a song that was released as the seventh single from the album.
# 4 – Back In The High Life
We could have easily filled up this top 10 Steve Winwood songs list with tracks from the great Back In The High Life Again. album. However, we wanted to make sure that we covered many of Steve Winwood’s other great records. So we limited ourselves to only picking three songs from the album. “Back in the High Life Again,” was the album’s title track
# 3 – Valerie
Steve Winwood’s wonderful song entitled “Valerie,” was originally released in 1982. The song was issued on the album Talking Back to the Night. It was Steve Winwood’s third solo album. The song would be reissued five years later in 1987 on Steve Winwood’s Greatest Hits album entitled Chronicles. Its reissue on the Chronicles album was remixed. The song had more success on the charts in 1987 than it had originally in 1982. In 1987, Steve Winwood was one of the hottest musical acts on the charts because of the amazing success he had with his masterpiece Back In The High Life Again album
# 2 – While You See A Chance
As we get closer to our number one spot on our top 10 Steve Winwood songs list, we turn to Steve Winwood’s album Arc Of A Diver. The album was released in 1981. The great song “While You See A Chance,” was released as the album’s single. Although the Billboard charts were not foreign ground to Steve Winwood based on his former work with Traffic, Blind Faith, and The Spencer Davis Group, “While You See A Chance,” would become Steve Winwood’s first solo release to reach the Billboard Top 10.
# 1 – Higher Love
We close out our Top 10 Steve Winwood songs list bookending this list with another number one record released by Steve Winwood from his solo albums. We opened with “Roll WIth It,” which was Winwood’s second number one single of his solo career. We close with Steve Winwood’s first number one solo single entitled “Higher Love.” The song was released in 1986 on his wonderful Back In The High Life Again album. The CD era was in full force by 1987 and Winwood’s production team took full advantage of the new digital medium and all its sonic possibilities.
“Higher Love,” was one of the best sounding singles to have ever been released at the time. The sound quality and production were stunning. Even in 2019, it still sounds incredible. But it wasn’t just about the sound quality. “Higher Love,” was a rhythmic and melodic masterpiece. It was as if Steve Winwood had taken everything he had learned from his days with all his former bands and created the perfect pop song. “Higher Love,” stands as one of the all time great songs in the popular music canyon of the 20th Century
Updated June 8, 2023
Top 10 Steve Winwood Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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