Friday, July 9, 2021

"Roll with It" by Steve Winwood

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3547
Date:  06/11/1988
Debut:  53
Peak:  1 (4 weeks)
Weeks:  18
Genre:  Pop, Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Winwood's career was at an all-time high thanks to his 1986 multi-platinum solo album Back in the High Life. It reached #3 thanks to four Pop Top 20 hits including the Grammy-winning #1 "Higher Love." Winwood's long time label, Island Records, benefited from his success as well, but it came at an awkward time with Winwood's contract coming up for renewal. He was suddenly hot property and that had other labels sniffing around. Virgin Records came calling and offered Winwood a deal he could not refuse. It seems Island was unable to match it so Winwood jumped ship and signed on with Virgin. He quickly got to work and with his co-writer Will Jennings came up with his fifth solo album Roll with It. The title track would be the lead single and it would be a major hit reaching #1 on the Pop chart and staying there for four weeks; the longest run at the top spot for any single hitting #1 within the calendar year of 1988. It would also reach #1 at Rock and AC while getting to #21 Dance and #30 R&B. The multi-chart hit would sell well and go gold. As the single was riding high in the #1 spot, the album would also reach #1 for a week. By the end of the year it would go double-platinum. The song, the album, and Winwood would all received Grammy nods (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance Male).

ReduxReview:  This crowd-pleaser was the perfect follow up to the hits from Back in the High Life. The soulful track hinted at Winwood's beginnings as a member of The Spencer Davis Group. It was irresistible ear candy for anyone who wanted to boogie on the dance floor. The Motown-influenced track with its easy groove and horns made for a great summer radio song. It still remains one of Winwood's most popular tracks.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song became the subject of a lawsuit in 1990. It seems that the folks at Jobete Music, a publishing company that was mainly associated with Motown Records, were not too thrilled when they heard "Roll with It." To them it bore a striking resemblance to a song in their catalog titled "(I'm A) Road Runner." That song, written by the famous Holland-Dozier-Holland team, was a 1966 hit for Junior Walker & the Allstars. Their original version reached #4 R&B/#20 Pop. Feeling that their toes were being stepped on, Jobete sued Winwood, his co-writer Will Jennings, and Virgin Record for plagiarism. The suit would be settled out of court. It is assumed that Jobete received some kind of payout. In addition, Holland-Dozier-Holland would then be officially credited as composers on the track.


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