Tuesday, March 8, 2011

English Soul of Steve Winwood

English Soul (2010), a new documentary about rocker Steve Winwood, portrays his musical journey as a quest for meaning and beauty in the countryside of England, so it has more to do with Winwood's childhood house in Gloucestershire, than his deep fondness for Ray Charles, or his countless influences from American blues. Since it's nearly clear to everybody that lawns, sheep, and barn don't create blues or rock 'n' roll, and this type of music is more related to whiskey, drugs and wimmen', as well as big dirty cities, we can forget about this unconvincing approach and enjoy a panorama of British Psychedelic-Pop and Blues-Rock, from Spencer Davis Group days to Traffic and Blind Faith.

English Soul is meticulously directed by Paul Bernays, who has made another musical portrait for Emmylou Harris (From a Deeper Well, 2007). There are interviews with ex-members of Traffic, where great Dave Mason talks about his frustration of being kicked off the band, while Traffic's best selling hit singles were still Mason's compositions like Feelin' Alright. Eric Clapton, the eternal wise man of rock 'n' roll court, gives his comments about forming Blind Faith, and his sudden break up with this newly born super band. Now it makes sense when Clapton describes his recent reunions with Winwood, and playing almost all Blind Faith songs in Madison Square Garden, as a finishing an unfinished job; delivering the sound that they really wanted to give, back in 1969.

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