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Traffic - Far From Home CD (album) cover

FAR FROM HOME

Traffic

 

Eclectic Prog

3.07 | 53 ratings

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aglasshouse
3 stars Traffic is by far one of my favorite bands of all time. The innovative music they cranked out in such an early stage of progressive rock was nigh unparalleled by many other bands. Traffic split up rather early in the seventies (in '74), but at the same time had released a studio album practically every year up to that point since their debut in 1967. The split couldn't be more appropriate. Traffic was releasing great material seemingly effortlessly, until that year with When The Eagle Flies, debatably their weakest album of the period. They went quiet for three decades until in 1994, they released a sudden comeback album out of the blue. This was none other than Far From Home, a haphazard assemblage of 90's pop rock and very vague progressive undertones. Was it as great as any of the classics?

No, not really. Now you could say that with such an old band as Traffic, thinking that an album released thirty years after their golden era would be as great as when the band was young is wishful thinking. I don't believe that Far From Home should match any of their old albums in the slightest. To me, a comeback album is one that is more of a callback to old material, replicating it slightly but with other sounds and gadgets to make up for weak points. This is especially the case when an album is such a flash-fire like Far From Home was (the band released and nothing subsequently). But this didn't happen. FFH was a complete overhaul of Traffic's sound, demolishing the eclectic folk influence, the progressive construction, and any semblance of what made Traffic Traffic. If every element of the band was removed, then what exactly was left? Nothing particularly remarkable.

Far From Home, in layman's terms, is a glorified Steve Winwood solo album, the only difference being that drummer Jim Capaldi from the original lineup joined him on it. The album is over-saturated, much like Winwood's albums, with harmonized synth keyboards, slow echoing drumming, and soul backing vocals. To call Far From Home a prog record would be a stretch, but you could make a case for it. The album does have many Latin and salsa jazz influences, no matter how badly used they may be. Funnily enough this album features some of Traffic's longest tracks, which have little-to-no experimentation in them; this may be a trap for you if you're going into the album looking for some hardened progressive rock, so it's better to be aware. Winwood's vocals in their early stages were quiet, yet when required were able to belt out power notes. However after spending the 80's successful with just using the latter, Winwood's over-enthusiastic yell became the centerpiece of the vocal arrangements. Capaldi, who I know is a great drummer, is restricted within this genre with slow, linear drum patterns that rarely shift from their solid mold. Mick Dolan and Davy Spillane appear as newcomers to the band, on rhythm guitar and Uilleann pipes (a type of Irish bagpipe) respectively. Even with their presence though, it's undoubtedly primarily Capaldi and Winwood doing the work.

The album has some pretty good moments, the title track is stand-able and features one of those super-filtered guitar solos from Winwood at the end of the song. The tracks that I always come back to are that of 'Nowhere Is Their Freedom', a punchy film-score esque epic, and the wonderful closing instrumental 'Mozambique'. The other tracks are forgettable, but I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to say they wouldn't appeal to anybody because this music definitely still has an audience.

Far From Home is not a fantastic record. It has more ups than downs, and unfortunately isn't that great of a resurrection of such a classic band. Yet if you are open minded I'm sure this album would have it's fans. My two- cents don't mean anything in the wider picture. Happy listening.

2.5 rounded to a 3.

To think of it, maybe Traffic needed a little more Mason after all. If anyone can do campy right, it's him.

aglasshouse | 3/5 |

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