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LAST EXIT

Traffic

Eclectic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars (third in a serie of ten)

I am rather severe with this album but , at that time, Traffic's third album was almost posthumous and man, does it ever sound like it. Mason had gone for the second (or is it third ) time , leaving the band in total distress with moral forces very low and down to a trio.

Not everything is bad on this album, though: the first side is full of almost usual Traffic tracks in the line of the first two albums (very psychy) but gradually slightly more progressive. Side 2 is two long tracks recorded live with IMO a poor sound and generally over-indulging solos. As to make you know that this was almost throw away stuff and the title tells you that the band was gone.

In such , while relatively poor by Traffic standarts , this album is not bad at all , but should only please confirmed fans. Start elsewhere if you want to investigate them.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#33759)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Traffic is one of my favourite bands. I also think that they had a very original style and they made very important contributions to Rock music in general. This was the first Traffic`s album that I have listened in the early 70s. One of my brothers bought then one copy of this album released in my country under the Philips records label. He later bought another copy of this album, but released in the U.S. by United Artists records, and it had a different cover design. It was stolen by someone! In the late 70s, the album was released again in my country by another company under the Island records label, so my brother bought a new copy! in the present, we have discovered that me and all my brothers have the CD version of this album! So, this is a "favourite album" in my family! IMO, it is not as bad as I have read in other reviews and in other websites. This album is really an album released after Traffic split in late 1968. Mason left the band after the release of the "Traffic" album. They still released some singles in late 1968, some of which are included in this album. When Winwood left, the band split. He joined Blind Faith, while Capaldi and Wood joined Mason and keyboardist Mick Weaver (a.k.a. Wynder K. Frog) in a band which lasted for only three months between Janauary and March 1969, called "Wooden Frog", and a.k.a. "Mason, Capaldi,Wood, Frog", which played some gigs and did several Radio appearances in England.This "Last Exit" album was released in May 1969, at the time when the Blind Faith band was announced. This album is really a collection of songs compiled and released by Island Records. About the Songs: "Just for You" (composed by Mason) was originally released in February 1968 as the B side of one of Dave Mason`s soloist singles (called "Little Woman"). This B side has the rest of the members of Traffic as a backing band. There is a very good bass part, maybe played by Winwood, and it is a song with very good arrangements which also include a string arrangement. "Shangai Noodle Factory" (the L.P. label says that it was composed by Winwood/Capaldi/Wood, but the CD cover says that it was composed by Winwood/Capaldi/Wood/Miller/Fallon!) it`s my favourite song from this album, with very good arrangements, very good vocals by Winwood, and a bit of bass pedals played by him. It was previously released as the B side of the single "Medicated Goo" (Winwood/Miller) in December 1968. "Medicated Goo" is also a good song with good lead guitars."Withering Tree" (Winwood/Capaldi) was previously released as the B side of the "Feeling Alright" single which was released in September 1968.It is a bit "dark" song, but it is also good.There is also an instrumental piece, previously unreleased (I think so), called "Something`s Got a Hold of my Toe" (Mason/Winwood/Miller), with melodies played by electric guitars, with some organ, good bass guitar, and drums.The Side Two of the L.P. has two songs recorded live at the Filmore West auditorium in San Franciso, U.S., in 1968. I read in an interview done with Capaldi and Winwood in the British "Vox" Magazine in 1994. They said that Traffic never toured in the U.S. with Mason betwen 1968 and 1969 .They said that "the U.S. never knew Traffic as a quartet in concerts at that time". So, this live recordings only include Winwood (vocals, organ, bass pedals), Chris Wood (flute, sax, percussion) and Jim Capaldi (drums). It could have beenn very hard to play some songs in concerts with the lack of more instruments! These songs, two covers ("Feelin`Good" and "Blind Man"), are more or less well played, with improvistation. They have some good solos, but they are not very good recordings.In general, "Last Exit" is a good album. Maybe the live recordings are the weakest point in this album.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#33760)
Posted Sunday, January 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Another weak offering from Traffic. In fact to date there was not much on here to improve upon their debut.' Medicated Goo' and ' Blind Man' hold it up but after three mediocre albums they still managed to hang in there. This was a time when a lot of record companies encouraged free expression. Thank God for that as their finest albums were just around the corner.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#33762)
Posted Wednesday, April 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars More or less a throwaway album. After two great releases, Traffic was bound to fail sooner or later. It's not so much that the tracks are weak, but the decision to make the second side live is poor planning on whomever's part. Side A opens with "Just for You", a relatively standard Dave Mason number that would fit better on one of his solo albums. If you've never heard this one, compare it as if it were "Don't Be Sad" or "Cryin' To Be Heard" but a lot happier than the latter. Next comes "Shanghai Noodle Factory", on of the two tracks that keep this album afloat. I believe you can get it on the remastered TRAFFIC album, as you should because it is a hint of the future for Traffic. "Something's Got a Hold of My Toe" is a standard instrumental jam. Good, but nowhere near "Glad" from the future release JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE. In a way, "Something" almost sounds unfinished. "Withering Tree" is OK, but not even as good as "Rainmaker" from LOW SPARK. "Tree" would fit in better if it were on the sad release WHEN THE EAGLE FLIES, something that the band could've re-done to make EAGLE suck a little less. Finally, we hear "Medicated Goo", the other track worth listening to more than twice. Hear it and listen to it forever. Chris Wood's sax is at it's best Pre-"Glad" performance. Then you hit side B, and it's like a kick to the groin. Both tracks are poorly recorded, but overall a step backwards for Traffic. Compared to CANTEEN or ON THE ROAD, these tracks would've done beast to stay in the studio. I can barely tell the difference between "Feelin' Good" and "Blind Man" with the exception of the organ in the opening of "Blind Man" anf Winwood's singing. Bottom Line: Pick up the Remastered TRAFFIC or any CD with "Shanghai" and "Goo" and try to forget that Last Exit ever happened.

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Send comments to Tenorsaxman89 (BETA) | Report this review (#33763)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars They were all guilty of being a little quick on the trigger when they decided to call this "Last Exit" because there would be many more Traffic albums to come before it was all over. But at the time things looked pretty hopeless and the record label, in an attempt to recoup some of the funds they had invested in the band, emptied the vault and assembled enough recordings to call it an album. There's not even a list of musicians to accompany the photos on the original LP cover, just a note that it was produced by Jimmy Miller and the Traffic logo with one of its sides breaking away. Surprisingly, though, there are a few really good songs included.

Dave Mason's "Just For You" could easily pass for a Moody Blues song from the same era with its tablas and Indian styled orchestration but it's nothing to write home about. "Shanghai Noodle Factory," on the other hand, is a rockin' R&B number that I've always enjoyed. It's got an interesting mix of acoustic guitar, organ and flute layered on top of drummer Jim Capaldi's steady groove. Steve Winwood delivers his usual great vocals (not just here but on every song) and the extended interplay between the guitar and flute is excellent. "Something's Got a Hold of My Toe" is no more than an uninspired electric guitar-driven jam that would never have seen the light of day if they hadn't been scraping for filler. "Withering Tree" is a Winwood/Capaldi tune dominated by the piano that lyric-wise could be an allegory for the group's sad status. It shifts between a waltz and a straight 4/4 but it, too, is quite forgettable. "Medicated Goo" is funky fun and a highlight of the record. Chris Wood's punchy saxophone lines help to drive the song and the guitar leads are tastefully done. The tight, soulful harmony vocals are a treat. The last two tunes were recorded live at the Fillmore West with just Steve, Jim and Chris alone on stage (Winwood supplies the bass on the pedals). "Feelin' Good" is actually an adaptation of a song from a Broadway musical that I guess seemed appropriate as far as looking ahead with the chorus of "It's a new dawn/it's a new day/it's a new life for me/and I'm feelin' good." Despite Wood playing some well-intentioned sax licks and Winwood knocking out a piercing organ solo you can tell they were doing their best to just get through the gig. "Blind Man" has a blues feel to it and they manage to throw in enough twists and accents to keep it interesting but you can tell by the audience's half-hearted response that they weren't getting what they had shown up to hear.

It's hard to recommend this to anyone but a true Traffic aficionado even though it has two of their best songs from the Dave Mason years. At least it didn't tarnish their legacy completely and, as we all know, they eventually reformed further down the road and more than made up for "Last Exit" by creating some truly memorable albums.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#112581)
Posted Sunday, February 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars, really!

Oops... A little underrated, IMO. Just the precarious and fragile live material on the side two and a couple of discreet songs by Mason, put this one on fans territory. But three typical Winwood's songs, from the vein of his predecessor album, make this one, as well, an interesting farewell to the 60's decade and, simultaneously, to the band: after this, Winwood joins Blind Faith with Cream.

There are some fine moments from Winwood's organ on Feeling Good, but it's not enough. Three stars.

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Send comments to sircosick (BETA) | Report this review (#113426)
Posted Saturday, February 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Last Exit" is very uneven album that reflects the period of crisis and dissolution of the group. Apart from excellent proggy "Shanghai Noodle Factory" filled with "proto- symphonic" acoustic guitar, organ and flute, and slightly less interesting R'n'B track "Medicated Goo", all other songs are semi-developed, uninspired and sub-produced. Two extended live tracks are nothing more than improvisational jams, nice for fans of this type of music but not in any way essential to TRAFFIC's career, much less for prog-rock in general. It is a listenable album, surely interesting for TRAFFIC collectors, but not so for other prog listeners.

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#119618)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This third ''Traffic'' album opens on a fine psychedelic-folk song: ''Just For You''. This is very pleasant indeed and might announce a good work. I have a mixed bag feeling about the next track available. ''Shanghai Noodle Factory'' (what a title!) holds a splendid chorus, and even it is a total ''Procol Harum'' rip-off this bluesy-symphonic song is quite enjoyable overall. Heavy organ and fluting are superb as well.

Actually, the heavy-prog ''Something's..'' also offers some jolly good beat. A strong psyche feel again and so far so good for this album. I am not a deep fan of the band, but I can't see any worse here than in their previous albums. On the contrary, I would tend to like this one better.

Not that it holds musical jewels, but the vocals are well performed and the pair keys/flute works perfectly (''Withering Tree''). There is only one side of studio recordings which ends with the funky-bluesy ''Medicated Goo'' which is my least favourite.

The second part of the album is dedicated to two long live songs. As usual in live performances in those days, these extensive tracks do hold improvisation parts, but that's alright with me. Being a fan of Led Zep and Purple, I couldn't really complain about this fact.

What is remarkable though is the great organ play in ''Feelin' Good''. But everybody knows the man who sits behind?A great man indeed. The interplay organ/sax is quite impressive. In all, there is nothing wrong with this album: three stars even if the bluesy ''Blind Man'' is not my cup of tea.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#221905)
Posted Saturday, June 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars I think this album gets too much credit from fans too often. The story was a typical one at the time: label is pressing for another record; the band lineup is in somewhat of a shambles due to personalities, drugs, egos - whatever; the creative force of the group is waning; and there is little to no time to record thanks to incessant touring. The solution? An album that combines previously-released material and live tracks with an ominous- sounding title that may have been intended to give the impression the band was on the outs (which in fact they were), although there is little evidence Island Records wanted to publicly disclose this information at the time.

Despite his name in the liner notes Dave Mason was no longer in the band and did not take any active part in the record's release. The opening "Just for You" is a Mason tune but one that he had recorded earlier as part of a solo release but which also included Capaldi, Woods and Winwood in supporting roles. Ironically while Capaldi and Winwood had pushed Mason out of the group the year prior due to their dislike for his more pop/psych leaning, folksy music, this song has the closest sound to what the band had released on their first two studio records.

The next two tracks are bluesy with slight jazz percussion tinges and extended flute/organ passages from Woods and Winwood. "Shanghai Noodle Factory" is basically a light, jazzy and probably improvised tune, while "Something's got a Hold of my Toe" is an instrumental co-credited to Mason and Winwood (the only such co-written song I'm aware of) that also smacks of an improvised studio jam session and doesn't really sound like Mason played on it at all.

"Withering Tree" is another previously released track that features a slightly gauche tempo and piano from Winwood that seems a bit hesitant at times. This was probably a track recorded around the time of their second release and left off that album (but was released as a b-side to the Dave Mason single "Feelin' Alright" after he'd left the group for the second time). "Medicated Goo" was released as a single along with "Shanghai Noodle Factory". This is basically a forgettable bluesy jam aside from a decent saxophone bit from Woods, has been covered quite a few times over the years by b-list blues-rock bands and became a touring staple of former American Idol Taylor Hicks.

The backside of the record includes two live tracks from a Fillmore West concert set (also without Mason). The first is a cover of the mid-sixties Anthony Newley standard "Feelin' Good" which has been covered ad infinitum by just about everyone in the music business from Nina Simone to Muse. This version includes a lot of brooding organ (presumably by Chris Woods), along with dissonant saxophone passages also from Woods. The sound quality could be better although this does appear to be a soundboard recording, and the ten-minute meandering length makes me think the band (and probably the audience) were tweaking on something when it was played.

Finally the album winds up with another live track from the same Fillmore West concert, this one also a cover ("Blind Man") written by R&B icon Deadric Malone who was running the black blues label Duke Records at the time. It's a natural live concert song but an odd choice for a band like Traffic, and certainly not something they would have included in a studio album especially had Mason still been with the band.

This is a record label release, not something the band was heavily engaged in creating or supporting. The intent of the record was to capitalize on the band's fame at the time and to put something onto record shelves while the group was in the process of breaking up but still owed the label more product. For these reasons I can't say it rates any higher than a fan collector-only piece, and therefore doesn't deserve more than two out of five stars. Not really recommended unless you come across an original vinyl, and even then only for its collectable value and not for the worth of the music.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#289239)
Posted Monday, July 05, 2010 | Review Permalink

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