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Traffic - Far From Home CD (album) cover

FAR FROM HOME

Traffic

Eclectic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars (last of a serie of ten)

Twenty years after their last album and a few months before Woodstock 94 (Traffic was the big absentee of the original Woodstock) where they put in a very brilliant performance and kicked ass many younger bands and fans, this album came out of nowhere.

As you might guess is the case with many older bands , the album was moderatly successful but also rather surprising because few tunes on here are worthy of their early discography. The title track among other are reminding you of Low spark or Shootout but this is not enough to base an album on. While better than a few of their record , this one is best discovered after the seminal afore-mentioned ones.

Report this review (#33792)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After Traffic split in 1974, Winwood and Capaldi recorded solo albums, sometimes inviting each other to their solo albums which also included some songs written by them together. Chris Wood died in July 1983 due to liver problems. It seems (see Jim Capaldi`s official website, in the "Friends of Traffic" biographies section, www.jimcapaldi.com) that Wood recorded in the early 80s some demos for a solo album which he never formally recorded. But Capaldi and Winwood occasionaly carried on collaborating together for some of their solo albums. In 1990, they composed a song together for Winwood`s "Refuges of the Heart" album. I read one interview done with them by the British VOX magazine in 1994, at the time that this "Far From Home" album was released. They said that the song that they wrote together for Winwood `s 1990 solo album was so good that it really convinced them to try again to record together as Traffic. So, before that, they had to do several things. Winwood was signed to Virgin Records as a solo artist, so they wanted to record this new Traffic album for that label. Winwood also had to buy from Island Records the rights of the Traffic`s logo-symbol (originally designed by Wood) which appears in all the covers of the Traffic`s albums.They recorded this album as a duet in almost all the songs, using in the studio modern technology as computers and sequencers.But I consider this album as a very good album, maybe more influenced by Winwood`s sound as soloist. This album still has the old Traffic sound, but "modernized" a bit."Riding High" is one of the songs which has more influence from Winwood`s soloist style. "Here Comes a Man" is more related to the old Traffic style. It also had a video which I saw on TV channels in my country.The song "Far from Home" has some sequencers and good percussion by Capaldi. "Nowhere is their Freedom" is a "modern" song. "Holy Ground" is one of my favourites, with spiritual lyrics, and the Uilleann Pipes played by Davy Spillane (who also has a songwriting credit with Winwood and Capaldi in this song; the only song which Winwood and Capaldi composed with another musician). "Some Kind of Woman" is another Pop Rock song. "Every Night Every Day" and "This Train Won`t Stop" are other songs with a lot of influence from Winwood`s solo albums."State of Grace" is another of my favourite songs, maybe the best from this album. The album`s last song is an instrumental piece called "Mozambique", with Capaldi`s drums and percussion and some good organ and guitar solos by Winwood. The art direction of the cover design was by Jim Capaldi. The album was dedicated to Chris Wood, and a drawing of a flute player also appears in the cover which also includes the Traffic`s logo- symbol. They toured for this album in 1994, with bassist Rosko Gee (he also appeared as member of Traffic in the "When the Eagle Flies" album) and other musicians.After that tour, Capaldi and Winwood returned to their solo albums. In 1998, Capaldi toured with Dave Mason and they recorded a live album with old Traffic songs. Winwood appeared as guest at the end of one of this Capaldi-Mason`s shows (not included in their live album). In 2004, Traffic was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After that, Capaldi and Winwood planned again to record a new Traffic album and also to tour. But in late 2004 Capaldi was diagnosed with cancer in the stomach, so the plans for a new Traffic album were postponed, and finally canceled with Capaldi`s death in January 2005.
Report this review (#33793)
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 1994 and time changes, sound changes, creative directions change. Steve Winwood had a successful solo career drawing to a close, Capaldi remained consistent in whatever guise and the timing was right, be it commercially or creatively to release another Traffic studio album. Far From Home is not a bad album at all and when one was struggling to find decent 90's material, thankfully Traffic came up with this new studio effort. If I had to comapre this say witha Yes album out of the 90's I would have to say Traffic would win hands down.Compared also to ealier works the production is slick, tight and well polished. I guess one of the attractions of early Traffic was their wholesome, rough edged sound but taking Far From Home in it's modern context, one cannot help being hooked by it's deft and intelligent delivery.

' Here Comes a Man' has Winwood wailing out strong vocals, backed by tight rhythms by Capaldi and Mick Dolan.' Far From Home' and ' Nowhere Is There freedom' are strong deliveries both musically and lyrically.' Holy Ground' is a beautiful haunting song with Davy Spillane on Uilleann pipes, Winwood's lamenting guaranteed to put goosebumps on the back of your neck.The album then seems to go to sleep in mediocrity from ' Some Kinda Woman' to ' This Train Won't Stop' but fortunately it recovers with the awesome ' State Of Grace'. Winwood again at his lyrical best. The final track arguably the best on the album. " Mozambique" is an instrumental that kicks ass from the first note and shows what a talented duo Capaldi and Winwood were. the rhythm guitar work by Mick Dolan also of excellent quality. Play this track as loud as possible. Overall a strong late addition to the Traffic catalogue. Three and a half stars a fair rating.

Report this review (#60836)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Talk about slipping unnoticed under the radar! This is one fine album that I somehow missed when it was released in the mid 90s. It has the excellent sound and fidelity of Steve's solo efforts but the songs are much longer and allowed to expand and breathe creatively. Capaldi's drums are very good and the percussion is well-placed and lively. And there's really not a throwaway song on the cd to my ears. The Uillean pipes add a wonderful aura to "Holy Ground" that I've not experienced in a long time and Winwood's vocals are better than ever throughout, especially on the haunting "State of Grace." This is more like what I expected from the disappointing "About Time" project Steve is into right now. I found that cd to be way too predictable and unimaginative, whereas this album gets better with every listen. If you missed it (like I did) don't continue to overlook this little gem. It's a great listen and a must for every fan of Traffic.
Report this review (#73249)
Posted Monday, March 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Originally a Winwood/Capaldi work, this CD was released in honor to Chris Wood, the excellent Traffic's flutist and saxophonist, who died in the 80's.

It's mostly pop-oriented, with several tracks in the vein of Winwood's solo efforts. So, to the prog die-hard fan, many songs here could sound flat and boring, even awful, despite the still high composition quality by the duo Winwood/Capaldi on tracks like State of Grace, Holy Ground and the self-titled one, easily the best songs here. In other words, this CD shows us the decadence of one more prog band that had to get into the 80' and 90' new waves, as any prog band like Genesis, Tull, KC, etc., although Traffic was a bit later than many other bands (exactly 20 years after their supposed split up), but anyway, it was the same old story: this release sounds poppish and lack of inspiration in most of the tracks, in comparison to any previous album.

Of course there isn't prog music here, but some catchy pop songs. Holy Ground (my favourite) has one of the most beautiful intros that I've never heard, with organ and Uillean Pipes, an irish instrument of wonderful sound. State of Grace also has brilliant moments and, in general, this album isn't terrible; I mean, as a Traffic fan you could be dissappointed with this one, but neither it will hurt your ears. Even, personally I can perfectly enjoy pop music, and this album fits good enough!

Give another half star for Holy Ground...... what a wonderful song!!

Report this review (#125803)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars While "Far From Home" is a pleasant surprise for the band fans, seeing Winwood and Capaldi team-up unexpectedly to record this album in mid-1990s, it fails short in providing any substantial musical adventure.

Its impeccable production and musicianship keeps being restrained within a confines of soft, crossover pop jazz-soul style similar to Winwood solo albums from the 1980s. In the best moments, like the title song or "Some Kind Of Woman" it even reaches the brilliance of this sort of sophisticated sound that only STEELY DAN or Donald Fagen could offer. The closing, santana- esque "Mozambique" sounds like an hommage to "Jingo". In addition, there are lot of excellent guitar and organ work throughout the album.

Unfortunately, many songs border on banality and a pathetic "adult contemporary" production that is a waste of listening time. I know, in the post-U2 musical world of early 1990s the domination of Irish folk music (even to the level of mass popularity during Eurosong competition) was unavoidable and many artists with dignity took a part in creating such a trend. But what TRAFFIC did with it on "Holy Ground" is a clear misstep, starting from a totally unoriginal and commercially dominant sound of Uilean pipes, down to a rather sissy melody and lyrics. "Bljak!" - to use a word from my native language in order to desribe unbearably lousy music.

Still, the album is a pleasant one unless you expect much progress. If I were not a TRAFFIC fan I would have given 2 stars only...

PERSONAL RATING: 2/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

Report this review (#138463)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of the few ´reunion´ albums that really works. Released 20 years after Traffic´s last studio effort, When The Eagles Fly (1974), Far From Home is more than anything else a homage to their former colleague and founder member Chris Wood, who had passed away a few years before. The funny thing is that Wood´s sax and flute playing is not totally absent from this record, since the group used some musical sampling on much of the songs. So, you can actually hear some of his characteristically flute playing on the second track, for example. A nice and fitting touch, indeed.

Original members Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi play all the instruments and sing all voices, except for Mark Dolan who plays rhythm guitar on one track and Davy Spillane who adds some pipes on a couple of others. But the one thing that is obvious is that the Winwood-Capaldi magic still works after all those years. There is something special about their partnership that none of them could fully fulfilled on their respective solo careers.

The album itself is close to a masterpiece and I´m really sorry they did not make a follow up. Capaldi´s drumming has improved a lot through the years and his work here is quite impressive, while Winwood proves again he is the musical genius we all know and love. His musical ability and creativity is absolute amazing. AND THE GUY CAN SING!

Highlights are This Train Won´t Stop (great Capaldi lyrics, with a powerful Winwood interpretation to match), Here Comes The Man, the long title track, the poignant This Holy Ground and Nowhere Is Their Freedom. With only a couple of weaker tracks, this is really a tour de force that, unfortunately, did not the exposure or recognition it deserved at the time. Still, it honors the name and history of the band. And is both men best work in the 90´s.

If you´re a fan either of Traffic or Winwood´s solo career, you can´t miss this one. Highly recommended

Report this review (#165118)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The end of the line ("This train won't stop")

In 1994, founding members Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi reunited under the name of Traffic. Chris Wood had sadly passed away over 10 years previously, and Dave Mason was not invited (and probably would not have been interested anyway). Both Winwood and Capaldi had enjoyed a measure of solo success, with Winwood in particular having briefly flirted with superstardom through a series of dance friendly singles.

"Far from home" though, while bearing the clear trademarks of Winwood's solo work, also draws upon the influences which could be found on Traffic's releases through the years. Winwood is of course the dominant partner, playing virtually all the instruments with the exception of the percussion, and providing all the lead vocals. With the significant passing of time between the 1974 album "When the eagle flies" and this 1994 release, there is inevitably a noticeable maturing of sound and style here. For one thing, Winwood has long since discovered and exploited synthesisers. His familiar organ tones can still be heard, but they can be overlaid with the rhythmic sounds of synths, such as on the opening "Riding high".

It is hard to place this album among the myriad of styles covered by Traffic. It is certainly far more accessible than the band's jazz orientated work around the time of "Low spark.." and "Shootout..", but I hesitate to place it alongside their early Dave Mason driven pop songs. Perhaps the closest album in terms of style is "John Barleycorn..", although even here, the folk influences are largely absent now.

"Here comes the man" features a fine vocal performance by Winwood, along the lines of that on "Every mother's son". The track lacks the fine lengthy instrumental break of that song, but does nevertheless feature the familiar organ sound. The 8½ minute title track is the longest on the album. It takes us closer to the relaxed "Low spark of high healed boys" style, while remaining tight and rhythmic. The track features some striking guitar work by Winwood.

The standout track for me is "Holy Ground", an atmospheric Celtic influenced piece of pure magic. Winwood's voice never sounded better than it does here, the Uilleann pipes of Davy Spillane (who receives a composition credit) complementing his tones superbly.

The sequence of tracks from "Some kinda woman" through "Every night, every day" to "This train won't stop" could have been lifted directly from one of Winwood's solo albums. They are adequate if unexciting pop/funk/rock numbers with synth rhythms. The next track of note is the delicate ballad "State of grace". The song features some fine traditional organ sounds, with Winwood delivering the sort of composition which, for my money, suits his voice best. The acoustic guitar solo sounds a little contrived on the track, my preference would have been for the organ work to have been developed further, but a wonderful song anyway.

The album closes with "Mozambique", the last song to ever grace a Traffic album. In true Traffic tradition, this instrumental is something of a surprise, sounding more like an outtake from a Santana album than a Traffic original. Anyone who remembers the obscure hit single "Sultana" by Titanic will know what to expect here.

History now records that this was the last album of original material to bear the Traffic name. A further planned recording by Winwood and Capaldi in 2004 was aborted when the later was diagnosed with cancer, and sadly he passed away the following year. Both he and Winwood can be proud that they created a fine epitaph for a great band.

Report this review (#167547)
Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I have the greatest respect for Steve Winwood. A huge talented guy who blew the musical industry when he was only a teenager. To tell that I am a blind fan is another story.

Their last album "When The Eagle Flies" which was released some twenty years prior to this one was one of their weakest effort and this come back is not really brilliant. But IMHHO, there aren't many brilliant come-backs after such a long period of time (history is proven)..

Standout tracks are difficult to find if you're not in a bluesy / soulish mood. The first moment of hope is the superb instrumental intro of "Far From Home". Fully "Santana" oriented, and probably therefore that I like it so much. I should say though than as soon as the vocals step in, the feeling is not so great any longer. I wouldn't compare these with the poor Greg Walker or Alex Ligertwood but I really don't like this type of vocals.

I'm not quite sure about the reasons of this reunion. Not the money (little sales), nor the artistic achievement. Maybe an effort to satisfy the hordes of oldsters who were still willing to listen to a "Traffic" album. I can't blame the band for this.

But I can't be overwhelmed either. This album features just decent rock songs: some good folk feel with a wonderful musical introduction for "Holy Ground" that is one of the best track featured. But to swallow the funky "Some Kinda Woman" is quite difficult ?

I am afraid that this album is far from a great come back. Very few bands did achieve this, and "Traffic" didn't. A least this is how I feel. Such songs as "Every Night?" or "This Train Won't Stop" have little to share with great music. My fave track is the closing number "Mozambique". A very much early "Santana" song (again) as some fellow reviewers have already mentioned.

I really wouldn't go higher than two stars for this (long) album.

Report this review (#225864)
Posted Friday, July 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars I have mixed feelings about this album, the only studio release from 'Traffic' in the thirty-five years since they disbanded in 1975. A well-produced reunion album is a plus, but I say 'Traffic' in quotes because the lineup includes only Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi from the original group (Dave Mason wasn't asked to participate and Chris Wood had succumbed to personal demons in 1983).

Stylistically the disc reminds me an awful lot of Moody Blues' 'Long Distance Voyager', Jethro Tull's 'The Broadsword and the Beast', Santana's 'Shango', and even Yes 'Big Generator'. Not that the bands sound much alike, but because in the case of each of those records the label took the approach of corralling together remnants of a once great band and wrapped snippets of their sound inside rather simple rhythms, shallow and repetitive lyrics, and slick studio production. The result is a collection of songs that may fool the casual listener, but will leave serious progressive music fans feeling slightly disappointed and maybe even a bit violated.

This really sounds more like a Steve Winwood solo album than a Traffic one, and particularly noticeable is Chris Wood's absence and his comfortable saxophone and keyboard contributions to the music. The group attempts to make up for this with little tidbits like Davy Spillane's Uilleann pipes to open "Holy Ground" and Winwood's extensive keyboard contributions including a few spots where he layers his own vocals with synth and piano (also on "Holy Ground" as well as the organ-heavy "Mozambique"); but in the end I'm not convinced.

As a whole the album is done in by an over-abundance of repetitive and insipid lyrics along with an almost complete lack of spontaneity or character beyond possibly the energy of the instrumental "Mozambique" and the opening punch of the 'geez-I-hope-this-becomes-a- single' "Riding High". I wish I could say more good things about these songs because I am a die-hard Traffic fan and would have loved for their brief reunion to have rekindled the magic of the early seventies, or even to have sparked some new kind of magic. That was not to be, and the group (er, 'duo') faded into obscurity again shortly after this release. Sadly Capaldi would be taken by cancer in 2005 so this is as close as the band would ever come to reigniting old flames or creating new ones.

I can't recommend this record very highly. The music is technically well-done and Winwood's guitar/keyboard playing and singing are as good as anything he's done solo; but there's not much beyond a few carefully placed riffs and keyboard progressions to remind you much of what the group was capable of. Most disappointing is the lack of anything approaching meaty lyrics. If you're a nostalgia nut or someone who was introduced to the old progressive music greats through their 80s & 90s 'comeback' albums then you might find this record somewhat appealing; otherwise I'd recommend taking a pass and flipping a few discs back in the stack to find some of their earlier works. Two stars (out of five).

peace

Report this review (#292728)
Posted Friday, July 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1612473)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2016 | Review Permalink

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