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SHOOT OUT AT THE FANTASY FACTORY

Traffic

Eclectic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars (seventh in a serie of ten)

Another real gem and absolute masterpiece but not doing unanimity as Low Sparks. And this is very understandable because it feels a little too much like its predecessor (the cut- out cube cover) although there are many differences ( a little like Crimson ITCOTCK and ITWOP) between the two.

First Mason is again gone (for the last time, I think) , the bassist is different (Grech from family and Blind Faith fame is replaced by unknown Hood) as well as Kwaaku is replaced by second drummer. Why I like this album better is that there are no throw-away rocker such as LSOHHB's closer and no obvious rocker (R'nR Stew) and this makes for a more even album with less abrupt changes. If side one is full of happy-times melodies , hitting a high point through the long but great Roll Right Stone, side 2 is of a softer more melancholic tone as well described by the titles , but Tragic Magic is simply awesome, And Uninspired is anything but that: you can feel that Winwood was effectively feeling that way but as he sang the first line , the rest probably followed quite easy, so as a spoof he kept the intro. Wood is playing much more sax than flute on this one and this is also a change and sometimes he sounds like a whole brass section.

Unfairly criticized by the people who did not really listen to it but I kid you not - a must.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#33777)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not a bad follow up to LOW SPARK. SHOOT OUT is one of Traffic's better albums. The opening tite track is fun, and not bad overall, but not good enought to be another "Mr. Fantasy". "Roll Right Stones" is long, but the vocals are some of Winwood's finest this side of "Higher Love". "Evening Blue" is alright, but nothing to go on about. "Tragic Magic" is Chris Wood's first solo songwriting credit, and one of the best songs on the album. Entirely instrumental, it remains Traffic's best instrumental after "Glad". If you've ever questioned why Wood was in the band, listen to this song. We wrap it up with "Sometimes I Feel So 'Uninspired'", another great track, ended another great Traffic album. Enjoy it now before you realize you have nothing to look forward to in Traffic's carrer except WHEN THE EAGLE FLIES an FAR FROM HOME.

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Send comments to Tenorsaxman89 (BETA) | Report this review (#33778)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Raff
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory" is a worthy follow-up to "The Low Spark of High- Heeled Boys", though it's somewhat weaker that its predecessor. There are only five songs on the album, the strongest of which are in my opinion the title-track, rich in time changes and lively percussion, the long "Rollright Stones", with great vocals by Steve Winwood and the instrumental "Tragic Magic", written by Chris Wood and as such leaning quite heavily towards the use of saxophone. The poignant, heartfelt closing track, "Uninspired", is also quite good, while I'm not too keen on the melancholy "Evening Blue" - but I suppose it's just a question of personal taste in this case. Overall, a very enjoyable effort from a band that would unfortunately split up only a year later.

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Send comments to Raff (BETA) | Report this review (#54087)
Posted Monday, October 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album for me represents Traffic at their peak. It was 1973 and progressive music was at an all time high where many progressive bands were receiving similar accolades for their respective musical abilities. Although commonly overlooked as a band this album in retrospect was their finest 40 minutes excluding their incredible live ' On The Road' double album.The opening title track get's the band quickly into second and third gear with an almost perfect song. Even better is to follow with the marching " Roll Right Stones". Eleven minutes of progressive, jazz, rock fusion at it's best. These guys knew how to jam and it shows even on the studio albums, and although they had experienced some personnel changes the creative force mainly driven by the late Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood was alive and well on Shoot Out Of The Fantasy Factory." Tragic Magic" is another great piece of music but for me the climax of the album is the aptly titled, " ( Sometimes I feel So ) Uninspired" This by all accounts is not one of Traffic's most popular songs, the reasons are lost to me. Maybe it is because it is downright depressing in nature, but hey that is what the song is about. Were Traffic a spent force from a creative point? Was Steve Winwood at the end of the road with Traffic both physically and emotionally or was it a desperate relationship coming to an end? Whatever the meaning of the song the vocal delivery from Winwood is simply awesome and IMHO his finest vocal and lyrical moment with Traffic.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#60832)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Traffic is one of those bands which I can't help but love, mostly because they weren't tied to one genre. Folk rock, jazz/fusion, prog rock, you name it. While most of us would consider the predecessors, John Barleycorn Must Die and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys to be the quintessential Traffic releases, I personally find Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory to be in the same class as the aforementioned albums. Steve Winwood continues to shine through with his musical presence and performance, and Chris Wood's reeds sound very sharp. The conga work of Reebop Kwaku Baah can't be forgotten either, as it seems to provide more with the atmosphere. Winwood and Jim Capaldi still write well together, including the title track (complete with a guitar riff reminiscent of "Smoke on the Water" and it's opening three notes). "Roll Right Stones" is the epic, but a sweet one at that, but my favorite is the electric piano/acoustic guitar number "Evening Blue," which sums up loneliness in such a way ("if I had a lover whose heart was true, I wouldn't be alone in this evening blue"). The final two numbers, Wood's instrumental "Tragic Magic," which seems more of a percussion workout, and "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" seem rather fitting as the final two tracks. I do think that this album was more than just a Low Spark follow-up in terms of reasons for purchase, but you can't help but get into the groove of the record, and the differences in each song.

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Send comments to CVoss (BETA) | Report this review (#80626)
Posted Wednesday, June 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sometimes they feel so uninspired... as this album is so overrated...

It's probably the worst Traffic effort before Far From Home, and surely the worst album of the 70's decade, perhaps togheter with When The Eagle Flies. But Traffic is one of my all-time favourite bands, and I couldn't give under three stars to a Traffic album.

I've tried and tried, again and again, this fragile CD, but yet I can't find the taste that Traffic uses to show me, as Traffic (1968), John Barleycorn or Low Spark (their last respectable work, undoubtely). Practically, everytime I listen to it, is just to hear "Evening Blue", the only good track for me. The rest is an efective way to fill an album: "Rollright Stone" is an uninspirely expanded track, always changing and never taking some direction. "Sometimes I feel..." and the self-titled track are easy-listening songs, nothing interesting, rather boring; and "Tragic Magic" is such the rest of the songs, but without the Winwood's voice.

Good, but non-essential, is the correct definition, and the last title can tell you why.

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Send comments to sircosick (BETA) | Report this review (#113526)
Posted Sunday, February 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The undisputed core of Traffic was Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood but almost every album they put out had a different rhythm section. So, while the quality remained top notch, there was rarely any continuity of style from one to another. This LP, recorded in Jamaica, is no exception. Joining the band was bassist David Hood and drummer Roger Hawkins, both from the studios of Muscle Shoals, Alabama where Capaldi had recorded his solo album with their help. There's very little progressive folk on this one but that's not surprising since they had been gradually veering away from it for some time.

"Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory" is an upbeat rocker with percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah, Hood and Hawkins creating an excellent groove for the others to ride in. But, as on other Traffic efforts, Winwood plays a lot of electric guitar on this song and his ability on the instrument has never really impressed me much. His voice doesn't seem as powerful, either, and maybe that's because he was still recovering from a long, energy-sapping bout with peritonitis at the time. Wood's flute is in there somewhere but for some reason it's buried deep in the mix and the song comes off as being rather colorless to me. "Roll Right Stones" is next and the singer tells you that even though he's got the "space age before my eyes" and mankind's technological advances amaze him, the rocks that surrounded his ancient ancestors are still here with us today. (I didn't say it was profound, I'm just telling you what I heard.) It's a soulful tune with an intricate arrangement, mixing piano and organ effectively as Hood and Hawkins guide things smoothly and tightly underneath. You keep waiting for Chris to cut loose but every time he gets a shot at injecting some adrenaline with his saxophone he sounds tentative as if he's not ready to play (or something). At a whopping 13:40 in length it might have benefited from some judicious editing, but one of the enduring traits of this group has always been their tendency to stretch their songs with improvised jams and that's what happens here. Somewhere round about the halfway point they really find the song's pulse and Hawkins steps up, throwing in some exciting fills on his drums and showing that he was a worthy replacement for the exemplary Jim Gordon.

"Evening Blue" has a full acoustic guitar foundation and Steve's vocal is back to its usual charismatic proficiency, ruefully emoting the sad line "If I had a lover whose heart was true/I wouldn't be alone in this evening blue." Once again Wood has a chance to steal the show on his sax but he still sounds timid. Yet he shines brightly on his "Tragic Magic," a slow funk instrumental that really elevates the overall mood at this juncture. It starts by developing a cool, smoky atmosphere, then the music continually builds up till it reaches the hook featuring a sharp, clean horn section. It's a great track as Chris finally unleashes some playful, satisfying solos throughout the tune. "(Sometimes I feel so) Uninspired" is a bluesy, gospel-tinged song that I have always enjoyed. Here Winwood and Capaldi have written a tune that perfectly describes a feeling that affects all artists at one time or another in their lives. It's not depression, burnout or fatigue. It's not laziness, futility or frustration. It's exactly what they say it is. A disabling lack of inspiration. If there's a weakness in the delivery it lies in Steve's decision to play another guitar lead. I'm convinced that one of his stirring Hammond organ rides would have been a lot more emotional and memorable.

Kudos have to go out to Tony Wright for providing the terrific cover illustration. It's a classic. As for the album, it was very successful. It reached #6 on the charts but I don't think it's as good as "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys." Of course, that LP was bolstered mightily by the eternal bliss of its title tune while this one just didn't have a song that so completely characterized the album in the same way. But it still has the undeniable and unmistakable aura that only Traffic could create and for that reason alone it is still superior to the vast majority of albums released in 1973. 3.4 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#119296)
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Is the drummer being muscled out?

"Shoot out at the fantasy factory" should be seen as the second release by the reinvented Traffic, as it bears little relation to anything which was released by them prior to "Low spark of high healed boys". The line up is once again tinkered with, the rhythm team from Muscle Shoals Studios (Hawkins and Hood) providing their distinctive percussion and bass. With Rebop Kwaku Baah also adding percussion, Jim Capaldi must have wondered if he was being literally muscled to one side!

The opening bars of the title track give a slightly misleading indication of what to expect here, the sound being rooted in funky jazz rock. This track is actually quite similar to SANTANA's early material, with the fine guitar work dominating the piece.

Steve Winwood, always a highly under appreciated singer, gives an excellent vocal performance on the slightly slower "Roll right stones", the longest and most progressive track on the album. The slowing of the pace is retained for pretty much all of the second side. "Evening blue" is a dreamy laid back number, Chris Wood taking the opportunity to add some smoochy sax. Wood composed the instrumental "Tragic magic", the only song Winwood and Capaldi did not co-write. While not by any means "tragic", the piece could have done with substantially more "magic".

The closing track "(Sometimes I feel so) Uninspired" rounds things off in a predictably downbeat manner. Lyrically though, it does not appear to represent the situation the title might portray, the piece being one of the album's highlights. Winwood's vocal performance is once again exemplary, although I found the intrusive percussion to be totally inappropriate to the style of music. More so on this track than any other.

Those seeking the music which led to the current Prog Folk classification of this band will need to look elsewhere. Traffic's folk influences have been firmly ditched by this time, the album being highly steeped in jazz and blues rock. The oddly shaped sleeve makes it clear that this is intended to be "Low spark.." part 2. "Shoot out.." is not really up to the standard of that album though, the feeling here being of a band reaching the end of its road.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#125122)
Posted Friday, June 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Often regarded as "Low Sparks Vol. 2", "Shoot Out" is another brilliant album from the Fantasy Factory of Winwood, Capaldi and Wood. If "Evening Blue" and "Uninspired" may at times even sound low-positioning and withdrawn, especially when contrasted to powerful jazz/rock/blues/soul energy explosions of other three tracks, this is still a somewhat more coherent album than its masterful predecessor. Although lacking the magnum opus like it was the title track of "Low Spark", this fine record still shows enormous talents and musical and composition abilities of these underrated guys. Additionally, the opening title track contains rare (and quite amazing for that matter) heavy guitar solos by Winwood unheard before. "Roll Right Stones" contains phenomenal bridge arrangement with chorus melody that is similar to GOLDEN EARRING's "Are You Receiving Me", recorded if I am right only later in 1977! Overall this album is not 100% a masterpiece and 4,5 stars would be justified for me, but I must command it as a strong continuation of ideas and styles and a further progress from previous essential albums like "Low Spark" and "John Barleycorn".

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#125130)
Posted Friday, June 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Anything new under the "Traffic" sun? I'm afraid not.

The heavy opener "Shoot Out?" is quite an embarrassing tune I have to say. IMHHO, it was quite a mistake to have placed this track there. You know, in those remote days, you went to your record shop, and usually you were played a few seconds of the opening track, and eventually the same for the second one. And you had to make up your mind based on this short introduction. Not quite convincing, unfortunately?

After this quite messy track, good old "Traffic" is back with "Roll Right Stones": a good rocker of a song that also combines good fluting and enjoyable percussion work. But don't expect real ecstasy: the moment IS pleasant but no more. A good musical combination played by skilled musicians. Is this anything extraordinary?

I very much prefer the melancholic "Evening Blue" which features an excellent vocal part from Steve (but this is again usual). This is a truly moving rock ballad which features a damned good (but short) sax part.

The jazzy instrumental "Tragic Magic" holds little magic as far as I'm concerned. Another pleasant soft-jazz-rock number for sure. But weren't we expecting more from the band? Maybe I wasn't since I were never a huge fan and my preferred album of theirs will always remain "Welcome To The Canteen" (for specific reasons outlined in my according review).

My fave track is the closing one. I would say that on the contrary of its title, this song is indeed very much inspired, emotional and in one word: beautiful. The backing band performs superbly and Steve is again phenomenal in his vocal duties. A moving guitar break and excellent percussions add a definite "Santana" feel to the whole. THE highlight.

This is a fair critic from someone who did listen to it carefully. And I'm not kidding. Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#224212)
Posted Thursday, July 02, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have been listening to a lot of Traffic lately, so I may as while do some reviews of their work. (I have previously only reviewed Mr Fantasy.) Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory would be a solid 3 star effort if it were not for the first and second songs. They bring it up to a 4. The title track is a fun, jazzy rock number which I think may have some story to tell about a "shootout" but I can't figure it out. No matter- it's still one of my favorite Traffic tracks. This leads into .....tada!....what I consider the all-time top effort by this band -"Roll Right Stones". I can listen to this track over and over and never tire of it. It is a masterpiece of jazzy/rock/soul/prog with wonderful playing, cool lyrics, mellow singing, and some groovy bridge work. Perfection in almost 12 minutes of music! The remaining 3 songs are good Traffic, but I find them a bit too mellow for my taste, especially "Uinspired" which I feel goes on too long. But, no matter, this is still a classic album from a classic band. 4 stars

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#288494)
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars When I discovered Traffic back in the mid-seventies (thanks to FM radio) I, like many young American Midwesterners, learned of the band through their radio hit "The Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys" which was still getting pretty regular airplay in 1975 or so. Truth be told I thought they were Derek and the Dominoes at first, but eventually that was sorted out and I checked out a couple of their other albums including this one because it was pretty easy to find at a time when imports were pricey and usually had to be special-ordered (this one was released in the U.S. even before it became available in the UK to my knowledge).

Well I didn't understand then, and I don't understand now, why this became the band's most popular record in the U.S. Other than "Tragic Magic" there is very little of the jazzy folk sound that made the band's first few records so appealing and even the better traits of the group (Winwood's vocals and guitar, Wood's blowing and Rebop Kwaku Baah's percuission) seem to have been reduced to smooth studio sheen and tastefully yet somewhat boringly spread thin across the other four tracks.

The only song worth special attention other than "Tragic Magic" is "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired", whose middle section of piano, sax and hand percussion actually does sound a tad bit inspired despite the title. Winwood's vocals are too polished at this point to remain appealing to progressive music fans, but the song as a whole is worth the seven minutes or so of your life you'll invest listening to it.

As for the rest of the songs, the title track starts off well enough but the weird tempo shifts are clunky and come off a bit cheesy and inauthentic for my tastes. And "Roll Right Stones" takes a great guitar riff and vocal passage too far for too long to keep the attention of most listeners. I suspect this one was extended to give some length to the album and to avoid having to include filler tracks, but in the end it turns out to sound like one anyway.

But "Tragic Magic", the only Chris Wood-penned tune on the album, saves this record from being a total loss. The band enlisted the famed Alabaman Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section to provide a backdrop, with Jimmy Johnson's clarinet supplanting Wood's saxophone for the lead wind piece and providing a stellar accent to some exceptional piano from Winwood. The tempo shift to a controlled-jam boogie midway is more southern U.S. R&B than anything Traffic ever did before or after, and the net result is a tight rhythm and blues instrumental with just enough of a jazzy intonation to set it apart from the rest of the album and most anything else on the radio at the time except maybe some of Bob Seger's early stuff. A great song, if not exactly prototypical Traffic.

The shift in sound on this album began with the closing number on 'Low Spark' and continued to the group's final studio album 'When the Eagle Flies' a year later. The band undoubtedly also benefited by recording in Jamaica, as the percussion mixes are all quite good and clearly enunciated, especially on the last two songs. For fans of the band's early music this may be too much of a stretch for them to be comfortable with, but for those of us who discovered Traffic after they were disbanded and gone this one is a very decent album that is attached to fond memories. In the end though it can't be saved by one great and one or two decent tracks, so two stars out of five are really what it should be rated at. Mildly recommended if you are a fan of the band and if you haven't heard it yet, but not worth going too far out of your way to find.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#289287)
Posted Monday, July 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars This is a prime and extraordinary rare example of one falling for the second (or this case Third) best rated album from a celebrated prog stalwart but with Traffic's Shootout at the Fantasy Factory, my personal fave is not the delightful The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (you gotta love that title!) nor the legendary John Barleycorn Must Die ! Am I doing this just for the sake of looking like a smart assed reviewer, looking for a new angle? Nope, sorry not today! The proverbial shootout starts with the glorious title track, a sizzling groove laid down right off the start, plowing sensually forward, loads of early Santana percussion cascades urging the body to dance and weave, twirl and breathe in the mellifluous cocktail of sound, the rhythm guitar churning blazing riffs, the bass firmly anchored, the drums propulsive and the suave Steve Winwood vocals smiling at you, and the lead guitar scratching at your high heels, lewdly meowing as if in heat. The wah-wah pedal rules here, an early guitar technique pioneer that is much sadly neglected today. A police siren wails in the back draft, ideal driven ?driving music as you tear down the highway to Prog heaven. Chris Wood tootles some fine laces and the spirit gets intoxicated with all the aural pleasure, a fantastic classic prog track! "Roll Right Stones" is another segue stunner, pastoral in its infancy, quietly evolving into a youthful romp that transcends the country/funky/bluesy influences by infusing a multitude of alterations in a progression of compositional intelligence that is truly remarkable (a hint of space just to add more ingredients to the pot), but when the huge chorus kicks in courtesy of some magic backing vocals, the wellness is elevated to glorious heights. A quirky return to a previous mood is met with stunning acquiescence, perfect timing and construction, an attribute that makes Traffic's legacy so desirable by thousand fans of early 70s rock 'n roll . It's obvious that the Muscle Shoals Studios (which I have visited in Alabama a few years ago) have left its mark on the sessions, the local crew of Hood, Hawkins, Beckett and Johnson providing a strong sense of local groove. Drummer Roger Hawkins in Particular is no slouch. Another tremendous salvo. The brief and fragile "Evening Blue" remains for others a passable interlude before plunging into the next two crackers but I have loved its plaintive cry for so long, a Winwood vocal that will consolidate his reputation, an added plus are the lyrics that are quite poignant! A sweet sax solo warms the tone up even more. "Tragic Magic" is an instrumental that defies description, a blending of the Allman Brothers and Roxy Music (two definite cousins of Traffic in a plethora of ways) , the Wood woodwinds (excuse the lisp!) pretty much and prettily lead the cavalcade , egging on the vaporous keys, the deft percussion and the squeaking guitar building into a massive groove , gilded by brass blast that are simply judicious. This is sexy prog in its "auroticism", lounge music for the sophisticated audiophile, easily the proggiest track here. Certainly one of the all-time great instrumentals (like "Glad" on John Barleycorn) and a monument of rock. This superb album ends with one of the great melancholic songs in history, the stellar "Sometimes I feel So Uninspired", a showcase of Stevie's outstanding voice , handling a lyrical journal of sweet desolation, and delivering a emotionally charged lead guitar solo that will tingle your spine, simply amazing I tell ya! The only reason this album is in a bronze medal category stems from the haunting presence and fame of the other two Traffic jewels and some cannot help comparing because on its own, this is Traffic's masterpiece. I strongly urge curious fans of early 70s music to whip out their pistols and head on down to the Fantasy Factory, There will be a hoedown, some fried chicken and grits and a case of Bourbon .

5 Alabama pylons

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#429977)
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2011 | Review Permalink

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