Can any other musician of a similarly lengthy career claim to have such a hiccup-free CV as Winwood? Granted, his most recent work doesn’t quite reach the dizzy heights of yore, but the wealth of his past triumphs suggest we should forgive him for easing off the pedal slightly as he cruises into his 60s.
Teen sensations rarely sustain the momentum of their early promise, as any number of Alex Chilton obituaries attests, but Winwood arguably became more energised as his late adolescent tenure with The Spencer Davis Group led to Traffic, Blind Faith and, ultimately, to a richly rewarding solo career. It’s all on these four discs, from the whippersnapper ferocity of I’m A Man to the corona-kissed psych of Paper Sun, the pensive folk blues of Can’t Find My Way Home and the AOR anthemics of Higher Love.
A single disc of undeniable highlights is also available, but wiser wallets should open up to the box set which, unusually for such items, keeps the outtakes and preliminary demo sketches to a minimum, concentrating instead on the tried and tested material we’ve known and loved for decades. There’s more than enough of it to go round.