Steve Winwood was indeed enjoying the high life after the release of this album in 1986. Back in the High Life is one of the best albums of that musically rich decade, providing Winwood with four huge hit singles. Winwood almost became too popular as a result of these songs; the radio played Higher Love, The Finer Things, Freedom Overspill, and Back in the High Life Again so often that even I eventually began to grow tired of them. As a result, I can say that I enjoy this album even more today than I did at the time of its initial release. Winwood's distinctive, laid-back music never goes out of style, and it soothes the soul while touching the heart with some quite emotional, really meaningful lyrics. I'm afraid I can't really describe the music; all I can say is that it combines drums, guitars, and horns in a way that is all its own.
While the album is remembered primarily for commercial successes such as Higher Love (featuring memorable backup vocals by Chaka Kahn) and Back in the High Life Again (featuring harmony vocals by James Taylor), it features eight songs of incredible quality. I might note that each track exceeds five minutes in length, so this album is not as short as it may appear. Take It As It Comes had real hit potential in my opinion. Wake Me Up on Judgment Day doesn't seem that memorable yet plays itself over and over in your mind after you hear it. Split Decision features some great guitar riffs, proving that Winwood can get down and rock a little when he wants to. The final track, My Love's Leavin', may well be the best song on the album, communicating both loss and hope in a way few artists can equal. You would be hard pressed to find a more impressive album from top to bottom than Steve Winwood's Back in the High Life.