Steve Winwood: Nine Lives

Music ••• Sound •••

On his new CD's bonus DVD, Steve Winwood notes that musicians aren't necessarily music lovers - that they often listen more for ideas than pleasure. Interesting to hear that, since Winwood is one artist who throughout his long career has always communicated an innate joy of music-making. Who doesn't smile hearing "Gimme Some Lovin'," or "Glad," or "Higher Love"?

Nine Lives finds him consciously operating in a Traffic-like group setting, with his organ mostly taking a backseat to the world-music grooves of guitarist Jose Neto and other bandmates. Winwood admits on the DVD that virtually all the songs grew out of jams - which would be okay if the melodies were stronger, and Peter Godwin's lyrics not so slight. Only during the instrumental passages of tracks like "Hungry Man" and "Fly" does the album truly take off.

A Steve Winwood CD where you have to ignore the tunes to enjoy them? I guess you really have to be a music lover to do that.