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Traffic On The Road album cover
4.10 | 90 ratings | 13 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Glad / Freedom Rider (20:49)
2. Tragic Magic (8:30)
3. (Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired (10:20)
4. Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory (6:40)
5. Light Up Or Leave Me Alone (10:30)
6. Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys (17:35)

Total Time: 74:24

Line-up / Musicians

- Barry Beckett / keyboards
- Jim Capaldi / vocals, percussion, drums
- Roger Hawkins / drums
- David Hood / bass
- Reebop Kwaku Baah / percussion
- Steve Winwood / vocals, guitar, piano
- Chris Wood / saxophone, flute

Releases information

LP Island Records Ltd. ISLD-2 (1973)
CD Island 7900282 (1988)

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TRAFFIC On The Road ratings distribution

(90 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TRAFFIC On The Road reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars (eighth in a serie of ten)

4,5 stars really. As from early 2005 , this album and Shootout are the only Traffic album awaiting a remastering. This is almost the same line-up than on Shootout but man, do they rock...... Full of lenghty interplay between a relatively tight band , this album got ineply critcized as lenghty and over-indulging jams - Absolute Rubbish. This is probably the finest live statement Traffic could have done. Most numbers have been expanded to allow more interplay but I never sensed a feeling of stretching out at all. There are no long drum solo or much other real solos (in the proper sense of the term solo) and every second sound justified to me. This was originally a double vinyl but managed to fit in a single cd so it is a great value not only in musical terms.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars In December 1971, Jim Capaldi recorded his first solo album, titled "Oh How We Danced", mainly in the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, in Alabama, U.S. (with other two songs recorded in London). He recruited for these recording sessions the musicians who owned the studios, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section: Roger Hawkins (drums), David Hood (bass), Barry Beckett (piano, organ) and Jimmy Johnson (guitar). These musicians also recorded albums with many artists as session musicians (with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, etc.).Capaldi`s album was released in 1972. Also in late 1971, Jim Gordon (drums) and Ric Grech (bass) left Traffic. So, when Traffic wanted to record a new album in 1972, they invited Roger Hawkins and David Hood to be members of the band. They recorded the "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory" album. They went to tour for this album. They also filmed one of their concerts during 1972, which was released as a video called "Live in Santa Monica" (it was available on a VHS video some years ago). For the rest of the tour in 1972-73, Traffic added Barry Beckett to the line-up. This "On the Road" album was recorded by this line-up which now included Barry Beckett, in Germany, in 1973. (Jimmy Johnson is credited in this album as "Sound Mixer" during that tour). IMO, this is the best live album that Traffic recorded. This line- up is very good, better, IMO, than the 1971 line-up which recorded the "Welcome to the Canteen" and "The Low Spark of High- Heeled Boys" albums.The Muscle Shoals musicians are very good, sounding with a lot of experience to follow improvisations without problems. So, this album is really very good, and it shows that one of Traffic`s best qualities was their talent to improvise during structured compositions. In this album, Jim Capaldi is credited with playing percussion, vocals, and also playing the drums, but I can`t say when he is playing the drums. Roger Hawkins really shines on this album, playing very good. Barry Beckett is a very good pianist and organist. His participation in Traffic allowed Steve Winwood to play the guitar in some songs. Beckett plays the organ in other songs when Winwood plays the piano. The album starts with two songs from the "John Barleycorn Must Die" album: a long version of "Glad", with a lot of influence from jazz-rock music, and "Freedom Rider". "Tragic Magic" is an instrumental composition by Chris Wood. "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" is a very good live version, with Winwood on lead guitar. "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory" is the most "rocker" song in this album. "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" is a song composed and sung by Jim Capaldi, mostly a very good Pop song, during which he introduces the members of the band. "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" is a song which a duration of almost 18 minutes, with a lot of improvisation again (maybe Capaldi played drums in this song, with Hawkins too, but I`m not sure). This album has a very good recording and mixing. But I think that Steve Winwood sometimes sounds tired, maybe of being "on the road" for several months.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It is hard to criticise this incredible live album negatively at all. For me one of the top five progressive live albums to come out of the 70's. Remember Yessongs, Second's Out and also Ricochet by TD , On The Road sits proudly up there with these gems and it was a double LP release. The musician's worked brilliantly together with Reebop Kwaku Baah back in the percussive fold. Here we have ' jamming' at it's absolute best." Glad / Freedom Rider" the opener is 20 minutes of mesmerizing sound. Being live the tracks have been lengthened to accomodate for the apty titled On The Road LP" Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" is another great track as is the live version of the much debated ( Sometimes I feel So) Uninspired" but for me the highpoint is the seventeen minutes of " Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys" As I said all the intrument playing is of exceptional quality but Chris Wood's sax and flute needs a special mention too. Not an album to ignore especially if you are fond of those great 70's live albums.
Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Not uninspired at all ...

Much more Jazz Rock than Prog Folk this live album is also a classic of the Progressive Rock genre. It was recorded in April 1973 somewhere in Germany and I can remember I was amongst the crowd in Münster (don't really know if it was the same year). One of those concerts which I never might forget.

All the songs are written by the TRAFFIC band. Some are played much longer than the original studio version as it was usual during live performances at his time. And that's good! So the band is jamming a lot - often very relaxed. The presence of Steve Winwood is remarkable. First of all his soulful lead vocals are to point out. In addition to this he is also playing guitar and piano.

I can recommend the beginning with a small suite, a combination of two songs from 'John Barleycorn Must Die'. Glad is determined with great interaction by piano, organ (Barry Beckett) and saxophon (Chris Wood). Freedom Rider is nearly 5 minutes long with Winwood on the vocals for the first time. Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys is another higlight of this album which basically has a great groove produced by two drums and additional percussion by Reebop Kwaku Baah. The other songs are also on a high level. So this album is near to a masterpiece in my opinion.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I can't deny Traffic is one of my favourite '70s bands, although their music has very little to share with the decade's trademark symphonic prog trend - blending as they did diverse influences such as psychedelia, folk, jazz, soul and rock'n'roll. This live album, recorded in 1973 with an extended lineup besides the core trio of Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, showcases the band's best output of the early Seventies, with songs taken from their seminal trio of albums, "John Barleycorn Must Die", "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" and "Shootout at the Fantasy Factory".

The album contains only six tracks, the longest - an extended medley of two of Traffic's undisputed masterpieces, the magnificent instrumental "Glad" and the passionate "Freedom Rider" - clocking in at over 20 minutes. As a matter of fact, all of the tracks here are chock-full of jamming and improvisation, though not for their own sake. The unmistakable exotic flavour brought by Reebop Kwaku Baa's percussion work blends most effectively with the double drums provided by Jim Capaldi and Roger Hawkins. The late, great Capaldi also provides lead vocals (introducing band members in the middle section) in the dynamic, upbeat "Light Up or Leave Me Alone". Traffic though, could boast of one of the best-ever vocalists in the history of rock, the sexy, white-soul pipes of the incomparable Steve Winwood, whose performance on the sublime "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" is by turns wistful and seductive. Winwood also plays a mean lead guitar on this album, particularly on the soulful "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired", leaving Hammond duties to the excellent Barry Beckett. The stunning sax and flute tour-de-forces of the sadly missed Chris Wood on "Glad" and self-penned "Tragic Magic" should also be mentioned among the undisputed highlights of the album.

This is a great live album, full of soul, passion and dazzling musical prowess, showing an extremely influential band (though far too often forgotten) at their peak. Highly recommended to all serious fans of real quality music.

Review by oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 4,5 stars

"On the road" recorded live in Germany is technically the most accomplished album from the band. All pieces are transcended thanks to long instrumental works with excellent jazzy developments and fantastic guitar solos. No weak piece, except the (short) moments featuring Winwood's poor singing. Good recording. Essential Traffic album, along with "The low spark".

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This live set begins with the storming avalanche of "John Barleycorn" openers "Glad/Freedom Ryder", which will never stop till the end of the record. What a superb musical performance it must have been, watching them live in concert! The extended TRAFFIC line-up with phenomenal conga player Kwakuh Baah and additional drummer, bassist and organist is one of the best live acts I ever heard. Extended jams of compositions taken from their three celebrated and easily the best albums ("John Barleycorn Must Die", "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" and "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory") leads you to a wonderful world of improvisation, masterful solo parts (especially Winwood on rare electric guitar, Kwakuh on congas, Wood on wah-wah-ed saxophone) and wild and playful performance. While Capaldi's "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" is maybe not the best selection from the masterpiece album "Low Sparks...", its extended version here is bettered by Capaldi's lively presentation of individual band members. The title track of that album is nicely performed although I will always prefer the studio version due to its incredible fuzzed organ solo that is lacking in a live performance. If you like extended jam playing in a jazz-rock style, you should definitely get this album , because it's one of the best and unfortunetely one of the most shamelessly overlooked live albums in the "classic rock" history. ****1/2 stars for excellent live performance, masterful solos and Stevie Winwood's solo guitar.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Traffic jam (Note to self: must try harder!)

Just two years after "Welcome to the canteen", Traffic released "On the road", another live album. The time gap between the albums may be relatively short, but in the interim the band had released two studio albums which represented a major shift in their direction. Both "The low spark of high healed boys" and the then current album "Shootout at the fantasy factory" saw the band moving away from their pop and folk influences, while leaning much more towards jazz and fusion.

While those jazz/fusion influences were kept in check on the studio albums, here they are allowed to come to the fore, stifling all else. My heading above may seem somewhat corny (OK it is corny), but it describes what we have here perfectly. Many therefore feel that this album was disappointing, and failed to represent the band well enough. I tend to go along with that opinion. I cannot help but be reminded when listening to "On the road" of the hope you like our new direction part of the film "This is Spinal Tap". Here though, there is really no excuse, as the line up is still focused on the Winwood/Wood/Capaldi trio. The rest of the seven man stage show is essentially that which recorded "Shootout at the Fantasy factory".

On paper, the track listing is promising, including as it does "The low spark of high healed boys", "Freedom rider", etc. The versions here are however significantly extended and rather unstructured, with lengthy improvisations. The opening medley of "Glad" and "Freedom rider" (these two tracks ran together on the "John Barleycorn" album, and were always performed live as a single piece) for example becomes a 21 minute monster, while the title track from "Low spark of high healed boys" runs to some 18 minutes.

Normally, such extensions are to be applauded, but here the objective appears to be to drag the songs out without any real imagination. Chris Wood tends to dominate things far more on this album than he does on any other. While he was undoubtedly a talented musician, his relaxed jazz style simply serves to render lacklustre, songs which we have grown to love in their original form. His directionless noodling on "Low spark. . ." for example completely destroys the song for me.

The three tracks at the core of the album, do actually have more of a rock orientation. Ironically, it is "(Sometimes I feel so) Uninspired" which is the most inspired performance here. In this case, the band actually make good use of the 10½ minutes afforded to the song to develop it into a fine guitar driven rock number. The title track from "Shootout at the fantasy factory" is also relatively lacking in indulgence, but Capaldi's "Light up or leave me alone" becomes a real trudge, the band introductions simply prolonging the suffering.

In all, not Traffic's finest hour by any means. If you are new to the band, please do not judge them by this decidedly sub-par offering, they have created much better than this.

Latest members reviews

4 stars "On The Road" is the second live album by "Traffic", recorded in Germany, and released in 1973 following their studio album "Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory", it features American session musicians of "The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section" keyboardist Barry Beckett, bassist David Hood, and drummer ... (read more)

Report this review (#2757844) | Posted by A_Beloucif | Wednesday, June 1, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars On The Road is the second and last live album from Traffic not too long before they broke up. '73 was undeniably a big year for rock, with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Selling England by the Pound by Genesis, and to a lesser extent Shoot Out At the Fantasy Factory was released in that y ... (read more)

Report this review (#1453644) | Posted by aglasshouse | Sunday, August 16, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Traffic is the one band I should name if men asked me which progressive (related) band sounded better on a live recording then on their studio records. The main reason is that these guys really knew how to jam. Don't expect Jimi Hendrix alike freak outs, but subtle tunes which were creatively bu ... (read more)

Report this review (#897286) | Posted by the philosopher | Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Traffic is in good form here. This double album and the live setting give the band room to breathe, and they make good use of it. My only negative about this album is the song selection: "Sometimes I Feel So Uninspired" has never been at the top of my list of favorite Traffic tracks, and I would g ... (read more)

Report this review (#129587) | Posted by rsmoore | Saturday, July 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is an absolute must for fans of the later period traffic. The band is snug tight and slopply loose at the same time....the jazzy jams are hypnotic and spacy in parts and razor sharp at others. Chris Wood really steals the show....his woodwind woooshes with Winwood's work on seve ... (read more)

Report this review (#105339) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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