Wednesday, October 21, 2020

"Valerie" by Steve Winwood

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3294
Date:  10/10/1987
Debut:  77
Peak:  9
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Winwood's fourth album, Back in the High Life, became a major hit reaching #3 and going triple-platinum thanks to four Pop Top 20 hits including the Grammy-winning #1 "Higher Love." With that album's run wrapped up and a new one yet to be recorded, it was decided that a compilation of Winwood's solo work would be released to cover the gap between LPs. To help spruce up the collection, titled Chronicles, three tracks from Winwood's 1982 LP Talking Back to the Night would get the remix treatment. One of those songs was this first single from the collection. Originally the tune was released as the second single from Talking Back to the Night, but it didn't do well topping out at a low #70 on the Pop chart (#13 Rock). With Winwood's profile greatly expanded, the remix gave new fans a chance to hear the song. The ploy worked with the song reaching the Pop Top 10 while hitting #2 at AC. At Rock, the new remix version would peak at the same #13 as the original. The compilation would make it to #26 and go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This was the rare case where the new remix version surpassed the original. When the remix came out, it was the first time I had heard the song as I wasn't familiar with the original release. I remember thinking - why wasn't this a hit the first time around? Then I heard the original. It was so two-dimensional and cheap sounding in comparison. The remix gave the tune a significant boost and made it sound like an actual record than a demo, which was kind of what the original sounded like. Then it did help that Winwood was hot property at the time the remix was released whereas when the original came out he was in a bit of a slump. I liked the remix version and ended up buying the single. Sometimes a song just needs that extra boost to push it over the finish line and luckily this track finally found its way to hit status.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 2004, Swedish DJ Eric Prydz would use a sample of "Valerie" for a dance track titled "Call on Me." When Prydz finished the track he actually sent it to Steve Winwood, who ended up liking the track. Winwood then offered to rerecord his vocal part in order for it to sound and fit better within the dance track. Prydz of course accepted and the track was completed. It was released in the fall of 2004 and it became a big hit in Europe reaching many Top 10s while hitting #1 in countries like UK, France, Germany, and Ireland. In the US it proved to be less popular. It only made the US Dance/Club Play chart at #29.


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