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Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die CD (album) cover

JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE

Traffic

 

Eclectic Prog

3.88 | 215 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Sothoth
2 stars This album is comprised of some rock, some jazz, some folk, some soul and some prog all tied up in a bundle. This album is basically "stuff".

It's always driven me nuts every time I've played this work, hoping for a spark, something to perk my ears and take notice. It's never happened. By the time I get to the best track, the full on folk title song, I'm crawling around on the floor battling ennui and holding on to a coffee table like a life preserver lest I pass out. This album has that effect on me.

The musicianship is fine. "Glad" will attest to that. There's nothing exciting, yet these guys can certainly play. "Freedom Rider" even has smidgeons of their earlier style to keep things vaguely entertaining. The next two tracks are soul-sucking whirlpools of banality. They aren't terrible songs boasting poor musicianship and embarrassing lyrics. At least that would be fun. These songs, and, in retrospect, the album as a whole, are huge bowls of pasta with no sauce, dressings or garnish. Plain spaghetti. Prince spaghetti from a box boiled for eleven minutes and dumped into a large white bowl.

The title track is an old folksy song that I actually wouldn't skip on a shuffle whatsoever. It's pretty good, and saves this album from being a complete life-crushing experience. "Every Mothers Son" has a bit more guitar to it, which is fine, but even Bread had to show the world they could "rock out" once in a while. This isn't soft rock at all, but there's no fire either.

I enjoy a lot of Traffic's albums, and Steve has an amazing voice. The fact that this is considered one of their highpoints and a financially successful one at that without even a hit single always baffled me to some extent. It lacks the psychedelic charms of their earlier material, and the cool funk of their following couple of albums. It has a little bit of both sides of their spectrum, but nothing worth grabbing. There's definitely merit in creating a work that is musically difficult to categorize, such as this release, so I'll give it that. It's just that despite being a rather unusual recording, it all sounds relatively tame. It sounds like "stuff".

Prog Sothoth | 2/5 |

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