Various Artists

British Blue-Eyed Soul

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An excellent sampler of Island Records more blues-based releases, British Blue-Eyed Soul is an excellent primer of early Island rock & roll. Released at the time (early1967) when Steve Winwood was just forming Traffic, the record is highlighted by two Spencer Davis (with Winwood) titles, "Dust My Blues" and "Stevie's Blues," which showcase Winwood's awesome gifts as a guitarist and singer. He simply couldn't cut a bad track at this point. There is also a real rarity here, "Let Me Down Easy," which is billed as a Steve Winwood solo track. Obviously Island was hedging its bets as to the longevity of the upcoming Traffic project, and wanted to keep Winwood's name out there. Sounding suspiciously like a Spencer Davis out-take, "Let Me Down Easy" is still a wonderful gem, whatever the origins and billing. The rest of the record is filled out by tracks recorded by the then-popular V.I.P.'s, Alex Harvey, Wynder K. Frog and others. In the end, a must for Winwood fans.