Steve Winwood says a new detente with the Universal Music Group paved the way for the new retrospective "Revolutions -- The Very Best of Steve Winwood," which comes out June 8 as both a single, 17-song disc and a four-volume box set.
"For several years we'd had issues and disagreements," Winwood tells Billboard.com. "Finally, without going through legal channels, we pestered the and sat down and we did work out something...that was sort of a compromise and we reached an agreement. What that means is they're able to collaborate with me on old material that they had; until that point they could pretty much put out whatever they wanted, whether I had any input or not. NOw they have my input on the choice of songs, what the cover looks like, what goes out when...and 'Revolutions' is our first project."
Besides surveying his career through the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and his solo recordings, Winwood was particularly excited on "Revolutions" to completely recut one of his songs, "Spanish Dancer" from 1980's "Arc of a Diver" album. It's an exercise Winwood predicts he'll do more of in the future.
"I have every intention to re-cut more things in the future," he confirms. "I think it's quite a valid thing to do. I don't quite understand why it's not done more often. It's interesting to present them in certain different ways. It can sometimes free up artists from the shackles of old contracts as well." Winwood hasn't determined what he may try to re-record next but says his '80s releases are the most likely candidates. "I feel a lot of my material from the '80s -- especially the mid-'80s, when I was working with other producers -- had a sort of production style that clouds the essence of what the song is," he explains. "The '80s production style was very specific and had a lot of synthetic sounds and echoes and effects and compression as so on. It's good to sort of unravel that and try to get the song back to...its organic state. I think there's a wealth of opportunity there to re-record and rework some of those songs without actually rewriting them."
Still, Winwood add, he's not "overly taken" with the idea of re-recording old songs and still has new material in his radar, including chorale music and "dance music that's played rather than put together with samples." But that will likely stay on the back-burner until 2011; Winwood will be on the road much of this year, with Eric Clapton in Europe, Santana in North America and possibly with Steely Dan in Australia.
"I still like the idea of doing my own shows as well," Winwood says, "but these people are...great fun to tour with, and getting in front of their audiences sort of broadens the view of my music, I think. There's something to be said for both."