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Traffic Welcome to the Canteen album cover
3.42 | 74 ratings | 12 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Live, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Medicated Goo (3:34)
2. Sad and Deep as You (3:48)
3. Forty Thousand Headmen (6:21)
4. Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave (5:39)
5. Dear Mr. Fantasy (10:57)
6. Gimme Some Lovin' (9:02)

Total Time: 39:21

Line-up / Musicians

- Jim Capaldi / vocals, tambourine, percussion
- Jim Gordon / drums
- Rick Grech / bass
- Dave Mason / vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar
- Reebop Kwaku Baah / congas, timbales, bongos
- Steve Winwood / vocals, organ, electric piano, guitar
- Chris Wood / saxophones, flute, electric piano, organ

Releases information

LP United Artist UAS-5550. (1971) / CD Island 790922 (1988)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to joosbranders for the last updates
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Buy TRAFFIC Welcome to the Canteen Music

TRAFFIC Welcome to the Canteen ratings distribution

(74 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TRAFFIC Welcome to the Canteen reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars (fifth in a serie of ten)

Although never really named as such , this is a real traffic album (only Mason and his annoying hesitations stopped the band to call it Traffic - but a few tracks on side 1 are his)and I consider it the first of their second phase (prog) because of their line-up with the superb conga player Kwaaku Reebop and Mason back in the fold again.

But real die-hard and integrist progheads will find little to please them in this one because they are re-doing their older numbers on the first side and only a superb rendition of 40000 Headmen is worthy of them. Side 2 holds a good and worthy rendition of Mr Fantasy plus the old fun-filled Spencer Davis track Gimme .

Although still very much recommended among the fans of Traffic , this is less so for the real proghead, but much worth a spin in your stereo.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars Yes, this album wasn`t released with the name "Traffic" on the cover. But it`s a Traffic`s album, released with the names of the musicians in the cover and in the label of the old L.P. The reason of this was that the band still needed one more album to fill their contract with U.S. label United Artists Records. As Island Records, their British label, was going to appear in the U.S. then as a record label (distributed by Capitol Records by a few years in the 70s), with the release of their next studio album titled "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" in November 1971, this "Welcome to the Canteen" album, released in September 1971, was released by United Artists in the U.S. (to fill their contract with the label) and at the same time it was released by Island Records in England. The band had some conflicts with United Artist about the release of this live album, and Steve Winwood also had problems the same year with that label due to the release of a double L.P. album called "Winwood", which was a compilation of songs recorded by Winwood with Traffic and other bands in the previous years. This "Winwood" album was put out of print due to Winwood`s protest. "Welcome to the Canteen" was recorded live in July 1971, in England. Dave Mason joined the band for 6 concerts during that time, as a guest. The new line-up, apart from Steve Winwood (keyboards, vocals, guitar), Jim Capaldi (percusion, tambourine, vocals), Chris Wood (saxes, flute, keyboards) and Ric Grech (bass, who was playing with the band since August 1970), now also included Reebop Kwaku Baah (congas, timbales, bongos) and Jim Gordon (drums), plus guest Dave Mason (guitars, vocals).It has a better recording than the live recordings which were included in the "Last Exit" album in 1969, but the live recordings of this 1971 album also show a band which maybe didn`t rehearse too much. The extra musicians allowed the band to sound better. They also did some very good improvisations and solos. The album starts with "Medicated Goo", sung by Winwood, which includes a guitar solo by Mason. The next song, "Sad and Deep as You", is a song sung by Mason with acoustic guitar, with Wood`s flute and Reebop`s congas (this song was from one of Mason`s solo albums). "40000 Headmen" is the next song, sung by Winwood. "I Shouldn`t Take More Than You Gave" is another song composed and sung by Dave Mason, again another song which he originally recorded for one of his solo albums. Mason plays a very good guitar solo in this song, very well accompanied by the rest of the band. The next song, in the Side Two of the L.P., is "Dear Mr. Fantasy", which has very good guitar solos by Mason and Winwood, and keyboards by Chris Wood. Maybe it is the best song in this album. The last song of this album is "Gimme Some Lovin`" , a new version of this old hit of Winwood`s previous band, the Spencer Davis Group. It also has some good improvisations. From this album until before the recording of their "When the Eagle Flies" album, Jim Capaldi left his drum kit to be at the front of the stage playing percussion and singing in concerts. Jim Gordon, a top U.S. session drummer and former member of the band "Derek and the Dominos", played very good drums with the band during 1971. Despite sounding with some lack of rehearsals, the band sounds good, and it is a good album, with very good improvisations and interactions between the instruments. In late 1971, JIm Gordon and Ric Grech left Traffic. In December 1971, Jim Capaldi recorded his first solo album, titled "Oh How We Danced", with Mason, Winwood, and Wood as guests, and with the famous Muscle Shoals Studio session musicians. That album also includes a song, "Open Your Heart", recorded with this 1971 line-up of Traffic , with the exception of Dave Mason, who plays in other songs of that album. I finish this review with sad news: I read in the newspaper today that Jim Capaldi died this week in London due to Cancer in the stomach. He was 60 years old.This "Welcome to the Canteen" album is also related with other sad events: both Reepob Kwaku Baah and Chris Wood died due to health problems in 1983. Also in 1983, Jim Gordon, who had psychiatric problems since a long time ago, killed his mother, and he is in jail with Paranoid Schizophrenia since 1984 instead of being sent to a psychiatric hospital, due to the Californian Laws of that time. Ric Grech died in 1990, also from health problems.
Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A surprising live album which recapitulates some of the memorable songs previously released by the band. The record itself sounds great, very energic, sometimes suggesting jazz to folk rock instrumentations. As usual, Steve Winwood engaged himself in the most fruitful side of the performance, conducting voice / organ / guitar parts. In this live session he is perfectly accompanied by Dave Mason's solid guitar playing. The performance begins with a nervous pop / rock composition followed by the very emotional, sensitive ballad "Sad and Deep as You", essentially played on acoustic instruments. "Gimme some lovin" which closes the album is a faster, more aggressive rock & roll tune, very efficient. My favourite songs on the record are the guitar folk sounding tune "Shouldn't have took More." and the very classic epic tune "Dear Mr Fantasy". Deeply inspired and musically achieved, this album is more than tolerable. Simply one of the best recommended Traffic's album and a good answer to Winwood's work in studio.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Three and a half stars would be an accurate rating for Welcome To The Canteen. The only drawback to this album is it is somewhat disjointed in it's collective delivery where ' Low Sparks' and ' Shoot Out Of the Fantasy..' are much more coherent and flow better. There are some great songs on Welcome To The Canteen and whilst typing this review, I know that a CD replacement is much needed to replace the worn vinyl and cassettes as the sound quality is shocking. " 40,000 Headmen" is a classic track and has all the ingredients of an epic Traffic sound. " Dear Mr. Fantasy" is equally as good and whilst I made mention of a disjointed flow to the album there is a definite upbeat and feel good factor to Welcome To The Canteen. Recommended for all Traffic enthusiasts, but get the CD version if you can.
Review by Chicapah
2 stars It's no pleasure to be a dissenting voice here among my esteemed fellow reviewers about this live album yet I find it hard to accept this as an "official" Traffic recording. It obviously includes members past, present and future but, since only half the songs presented are actually by the group, I think the name of the band being a list of the musicians involved in the concert is quite fitting and realistic.

One of my favorite tunes by Traffic starts things rolling as the band dives into the soulful funk that is "Medicated Goo." It's played a little bit fast but that can occur on stage and the intimate sound of the room is warm and cozy. Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi turn in a spirited duet performance on the choruses. Dave Mason probably agreed to appear on the condition that he could do songs from his solo debut and it's to the listener's benefit that he does. His beautiful "Sad And Deep As You" is an excellent ballad and Chris Wood's mournful flute wafting in the background adds a nice touch along with "Reebop" Kwaku Baah's simple percussion. I've always loved "40,000 Headmen" and they deliver a decent rendition here. Winwood's vocal is as strong as ever but Chris' flute (that provided such a crucial element on the studio version) is too far down in the mix to be effective. The rhythm section of Jim Gordon on drums and Rick Grech on bass lays down a hypnotic groove, though, and Reebop injects some startling dynamics on congas. The extended jam at the end is suitably dream-like. Dave steps to the front once again to sing "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave," another gem from his "Alone Together" LP. His voice is confident and clear and his guitar lead is better than average as Steve's Hammond organ fills up the room around him. I would have liked for them to have offered more from the band's second album but instead they give you two very long cuts that pretty much destroy the pensive ambience that the four previous tracks established. I have to admit that when it comes to "Dear Mr. Fantasy" I am negatively biased because it's my least liked song from the entire Traffic catalogue. Perhaps it stems from some suppressed teenage trauma residing in my dank subconscious but it just grates on my nerves something fierce. Mason adds some passable guitar on it but when Winwood takes a turn and jabs/stabs on his six-string it sounds like amateur hour. Not only that but the engineer must have gone out for a smoke because the audio quality takes a nosedive and it begins to sound like a bootleg. Clocking in at 10:32 this ordeal becomes ridiculously indulgent and monotonous. If that wasn't bad enough they next plod through almost nine minutes of the old Spencer Davis Group hit "Gimme Some Lovin'." It starts out okay with Jim Gordon and Mason tricking it up with a rolling rhythm much like the one employed on Dave's "Only You Know And I Know" and you're thinking this might get good. Alas, lightning never strikes and the clueless saxophone ride by Chris Wood is awful. I suspect he may have been BUI (blowing under the influence) and that sometimes happens but no one else picks up the ball to run with it in his absence. To my ears it just goes on and on ad nauseum with Steve singing the same verse over and over to fill up the space. The crowd goes crazy at the end so I guess you just had to be there to get the full effect. Or something.

My opinion is that this was never a case of Mason and the original group getting back together to make new music at all. They had an opportunity to perform on the same stage again for the 1971 Oz Benefit in London and they threw in a few more performances because they felt like it. It also provided a way to get United Artists off their backs by letting them release it as the required LP to fulfill their contract. Whatever the reasons may be, this lineup didn't last beyond the short tour and everyone moved forward to take care of their own business. It's a half good/half mess of an album that is more of a snapshot in time rather than being a true indication of just how fantastic Traffic could be. 2.4 stars.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This live album captured "the return of the prodigal son" Dave Mason, who previously had left the band on few occasions. As a sign of repentance he brought two of his solo compositions to this live set, where he sang solo vocal and contributed with fine guitar solo. (In this period TRAFFIC were basically acting as guitar-less band, with occasional Winwood jumping onto the instrument). "Medicated Goo" is better here than on "Last Exit" album. "40000 Headmen" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy" are excellent and representative songs of TRAFFIC style and both sound very good in this extended stage line-up (additional drummer, percussionist and bassist), with the latter being extended into improvisation jam clocking over 10 minutes. Finally, another long jam is reserved for R'n'B classic "Gimme Some Loving" which sounds like psychedelic soul version that would not be out of place on a Sly and Family Stone album. "Welcome to the Canteen" is good live album from the transitional progressive period of TRAFFIC, but for the prog rock community the following live effort, "On The Road" is better to check.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The artists formerly known as "Traffic"

Although now routinely credited to Traffic, the original release of "Welcome to the canteen" simply showed the names of the seven performers, with no reference to a combined name at all. There is no doubt though that this release is significant in the history of Traffic.

After "John Barleycorn must die" had secured its position as Traffic's most successful and critically acclaimed to date (and in retrospect it has retained those plaudits), Traffic decided they should tour to promote the album further. This presented something of a quandary for the trio, as it was far more difficult to replicate Steve Winwood's multi-instrumental plus vocal talents in a live environment than it was when utilising the multi-track capabilities of a studio. Winwood's former companion in Blind Faith, Rick Grech, was therefore brought in as a permanent bassist. Live recordings were made in New York for an album which was never released. Two of these tracks are however now available on the expanded version of the "John Barleycorn.." album.

Before the next tour in 1971, the line up was augmented further by drummer Jim Gordon and percussionist Reebop Kwaku. These two additions afforded Jim Capaldi greater opportunities to step up to the mike and share vocal duties with Winwood. The most surprising addition though was the return of original band member singer/guitarist Dave Mason, who had already left the band at least twice previously.

The opening leg of the tour at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon (in south London) was recorded for this album, with some further recordings from another gig in London also being used.

There are just six track here. The first song "Medicated goo", which reflects the band's lighter pop side, was originally a non-album single. It is followed by a solo acoustic performance by Mason, "Sad and deep as you" being a soft reflective number. The fine "40,000 headmen" is given a slightly extended treatment, but retains its folk character and charm.

Mason contributes a second song from his own catalogue with "Shouldn't have took more than you gave", a song which sounds very like his "Feelin' alright", recorded by Traffic. Up to this point in the album, the songs have been tight and relatively brief, with little indication of the jazz orientated route the band would soon adopt. The final two tracks though, which occupy half of the album, to some extent redress the balance. The first of these, "Dear Mr. Fantasy", is an 11 minute reworking of the title track from Traffic's first album. The extension of the song is of course through soloing by Mason and Winwood, the centre section of the piece sounding heavily improvised.

The final track is a nine minute run through of the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme some lovin", a song written by Winwood with his brother Muff and Spencer Davis. This rendition is little more than an excuse for the band to let their collective hair down. There is a disorganised, almost shambolic feel to the jam, which desperately cries out for someone to take control. It was probably great fun for those who were there, but does not translate well to an audio only environment.

The sound quality of the recordings is rather poor, having the echoed and muffled characteristics of a bootleg. Digital remastering has cleaned things up slightly, but the quality does remain an issue. With even the remastered version running to less than 40 minutes, one wonders whether this was a ridiculously brief gig, or if there remain unreleased recordings in the vaults.

This line up of the band played just six gigs with this line up before Winwood decided that he preferred to concentrate on studio recording. Despite his enthusiasm for the reunion, Mason then returned to the US where he had taken up residence.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars My entry to ''Traffic'' was the single that was released from this live album. It was clearly labelled ''Traffic'' and it was of course the great rendition from the Spencer Davis Group: ''Gimme Some Lovin''.

Mason was back for a few live appearances and two songs out of his first album are featured in this live testimonial (''Sad And Deep As You'' and ''Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave''). But even if the latter is particularly very much soul oriented, the final guitar part is so good, that I ended up by liking this one.

What was amazing with this band were the live performances. Their jamming abilities, the way that they re-invented studio tracks was quite an experience. Some of it could be experienced during the live side from their third album: ''Last Exit'' ot the bonus tracks available on the CD edition for ''John Barleycorn?''.

There is unfortunately not too much of it here. The very good ''40,000 Headmen'' remains a classic rensdition but the extended version of ''Dear Mr. Fantasy'' is a highlight. The wild guitar is a great moment of rock music by all means and the crazy beat is superbly introducing the phenomenal version of ''Gimme?''. I recommend this song to all great guitar lovers (to which I do belong).

Some thirty years later (I bought the single in December '71), my favourite tracks is by far the luminous ''Gimme Some Lovin''. An orgy of rhythm, keys, drums and extravaganza. A huge track indeed which definitely raises the level of this album.

It almost starts as the gorgeous ''Soul Sacrifice'' version from Woodstock and I can only be thankful to this album version which allows me to listen to the whole of this song without having to turn the single record (but, in those times, I taped it on cassette to enjoy a full representation: but the fade alas out could not be avoided).

This album starts with the third track. It's a pity that a song as ''Freedom Rider'' or ''John Barleycorn?'' was not integrated into this record instead of the first two songs which are weak.

I would have liked to rate this album with seven out of ten; but since the last four tracks are so good, I upgrade it to four stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Welcome to the Canteen demonstrates what an entertaining live band TRAFFIC must have been! The band's instrumental skills are well-known, and probably don't need to be discussed by this reviewer. There aren't many bands, in my opinion, who can make a 10 minute song, or longer, consistently int ... (read more)

Report this review (#1524587) | Posted by thwok | Wednesday, February 3, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hmmm... Traffic is one of my preferred Prog bands. However, every time I listen to them I remain disappointed: the potential remains untapped and a sense of incompleteness comes over me. I do not stay disappointed ... I remain blown away by this fact. This "Welcome To The Canteen" is one of th ... (read more)

Report this review (#386189) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I really wish they'd remaster and expand this one. Excellent and driven performances that straddle the Mason jazzy psychadlic pop years with the long winded Winwood years (one of my fave bands of all the way they stretched things out without wearing noodly thin). It's a groovy ... (read more)

Report this review (#41554) | Posted by | Thursday, August 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Traffic is on progarchives! at last... (this must be something that people like me had been longing for, I even read a review on one of caravan's albums such as "this sounds very much like traffic, so why is this one here and traffic is not?" .Though it is not proper to criticise Caravan's pro ... (read more)

Report this review (#33775) | Posted by Bilek | Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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