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Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.90 | 313 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Traffic at their best.

It would impossible to expect a better begining to the seventies... A fantastic blend of jazz, folk and progressive rock. Finally Dave Mason has departured and, as a result, Winwood gained his protagonism playing also all the guitars. Chris Wood is another member worthy of mention too. His flute-sax playing is superb on this album, more than any other, for sure.

Winwood was back at the time after joined (and departured a bit later) Blind Faith with Eric Clapton and founded this new and modified Traffic, without Mason and so reduced as a trio, which is completed by Jim Capaldi, an awesome and overlooked drummer who definitely proved his skills on this release. But it all doesn't mean to be a kind of Winwood solo effort (since between he and Mason there was always a collision of egos), and it either sounds like. It's just Traffic modified. No more of that 60's psych air, no more innocent bluessy tunes..... remember, Mason is gone ;)

So, John Barleycorn sounds far more fresh and complete..... even more progressive than any 60's Traffic album. Perhaps a bit soul on tracks such as Empty Pages and Stranger to Himself, but who cares, since they're still great songs in their own...

With the opening track you'll inmediately know why it is THE quintessential Traffic album: the powerful starting with fresh interplay between Winwood's piano and organ, Capaldi's fine drumming, Wood's impressive sax solos appearing all along the song and that slow-down in the second half, make this one the best Traffic instrumental piece of all, even as good as any sung track.

Well, I personally put Traffic's self-titled disc together with this album on the podium, and sure many colleagues would disagree. But I think no one who has a minimal knowledge about this band would disagree with my previous statement: John Barleycorn is part of the essential discography of this band.... Guided by popular critics, together with the succesor Low Spark of High Heeled Boys; but, speaking about a best of bests, John Barleycorn clearly has many more merits than any other succesor to be the definite Traffic classic: versatile, moody, technically skilled at the peak, and prog-oriented as you can get.

No weak songs on here. The highlights are too hard to spot, since all of them are equally awesome. I'd say Freedom Rider due to Wood's both sax and flute playing; John Barleycorn due to the folky flavour; and Every Mother Son, because of the vocals and the drumming.

A masterpiece of music. Five stars.

sircosick | 5/5 |


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