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Traffic When The Eagle Flies album cover
3.26 | 139 ratings | 11 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Something New (3:16)
2. Dream Gerrard (11:02)
3. Graveyard People (6:05)
4. Walking In The Wind (6:51)
5. Memories Of A Rock'n'Rolla (4:49)
6. Love (3:13)
7. When The Eagle Flies (4:23)

Total Time: 39:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Winwood / guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Chis Wood / saxophone, flute
- Rosko Gee / bass guitar
- Jim Capaldi / drums, keyboards, backing vocals (5)

- Rebop Kwaku Baah (uncredited) / percussion (3,7)

Releases information

Artwork: Martin Hughes

LP Island Records ‎- ILPS 9273 (1974, UK)
LP Friday Music ‎- FRM 9273 (2013, US) Remastered by Joe Reagoso & Kevin Gray

CD Island Records ‎- PHCR-18727 (1992, Japan) Remastered by Jeff Willens
CD Island Records ‎- 314 548 826-2 (2003, US) Remastered (?)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TRAFFIC When The Eagle Flies ratings distribution

(139 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

TRAFFIC When The Eagle Flies reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

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

Traffic's last album spells the end of the group and sadly it ends on a down note. Understandably worn down by the constant touring and some now seven years together, WTEF might have been called When The Swan Flies, for. Back down to a quartet with the three original members (Winwood, Wood & Capaldi) plus Gee on bass, this album sounds uninspired and tame and relatively poorly produced although the sleeve artwork with its special waffled cardboard is fine. Capaldi's lyrics reach a high note in meaningfulness but it is lost in rather tedious tracks and monotonous recording techniques.

The first side of the album has the usual three tracks (it's been a while since A traffic album had more than that), but the opening Something New is indeed that, but the new is no good as we must go back to Last Exit to hear something this poor from traffic. Even the 11-mins Dream Gerard, the best track of the album sounds a little repetitive despite a cool piano over a cool mellotron, it's just too long. The following Graveyard People is has a nice middle jazzy section, but that's about it and it ends abruptly.

The flipside holds a record-breaking four tracks, including the side-best 7-mins Walking In The Wind, a tad too wordy, therefore not letting Winwood expand instrumentally as we'd wished it for that length, but it's still hanging in terms of Traffic quality standard, as does the almost instrumental Love, but Memories and the title track are simply not cutting the mustard, the first being boring the second mushy, sloppy and even embarrassing, 'cause it's so bad. What a way to miss your stage exit.

The group will part after this and it will be a long time before they are to be heard of. Aside from Winwood's first solo album in 77 (quite good and bringing you back to LSOHHB or SOAFF), most of the solo albums from the band's mainstays are of little interest to progheads, least of all Winwood's massive sellers of the mid-80's. This album is only for confirmed fans, but if you liked ALL of the preceding ones, you might have room for this one as well. Certainly better than Last Exit. .

Review by Guillermo
4 stars After their 1973 tour, represented in their live album "On the Road", The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section members, Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins and David Hood left Traffic. After a short rest, and with Reepob and new member Rosko Gee (bass, from Jamaica), they decided to carry on, first on another tour, during which, Reebop decided to leave the band. They later went to the studio to record this album. Jim Capaldi is again playing the drums full time in Traffic, and also writing very good lyrics. All the songs in this album were composed by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, with the exception of "Dream Gerrard", which was composed by Winwood with former Bonzo Dog Band lead singer, the late Viv Stanshall. In this album there is the improvisation style of Traffic in structured songs. There are also a lot of synthesizers and mellotron in this album.Also, the electric piano and the synthesizers sound very typical of the mid seventies. "Something New" is a more straight Rock song. "Dream Gerrard" is a song very influenced by jazz-rock music, being the longest song in this album. "Graveyard People" again has the influence of jazz-rock, mainly in the keyboards, plus some Afro- American influences in Capaldi`s percussion playing. Chris Wood appears again in this album with his very own style of playing the saxes with sound effects, like he could have used a wah-wah pedal."Walking on the Wind" is more in the style of the old Traffic of the sixties."Memories of a Rock n`Rolla" is like a nostalgical song about musicians who enjoy playing music a lot despite not earning too much money."Love" is a short ballad. "When the Eagle Flies" has ecological lyrics. After this album was released, Traffic went on tour again, but Steve Winwood left the band abruptly some dates before the end of the tour. Traffic split then.In general, this is a very good album, and in my opinion, a good way to say "goodbye" for 20 years, until their "Far from Home" album from 1994. Capaldi carried on recording solo albums (sometimes with the Muscle Shoals musicians, and sometimes with Winwood as guest). Winwood played with a lot of musicians doing sessions, until in 1977 he released his first solo album called "Steve Winwood", which has 4 songs composed with Capaldi, who also appears playing in some songs. It seems that Chris Wood recorded some demos for a solo album which never was formally recorded. I remember than in late 1981, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood came to play some concerts to Mexico City. I didn`t attend. The ads for the concerts said "Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood from Traffic". In one newspaper I read one review of one of those concerts. It said that they played Traffic`s old songs like "Feeling Alright" and others. At that ime (1979-81), it had been "a common practice" by some "concert promoters" to bring bogus bands to play here. For example, they brought a bogus Steppenwolf (which only included one original member who wasn`t a key member when he was in that band) and a bogus Deep Purple (with original singer Rod Evans, who also played some concerts in the U.S. with this bogus band and was sued by the original Deep Purple`s management; so, as a consequence of this, he lost his royalties from the albums that he recorded with Deep Purple). (I went to the bogus Deep Purple`s concert without knowing that they were a bogus band, and they couldn`t fool the audience, because they were "heavily" booed!). At least, in the case of Capaldi and Wood, they were not announced as Traffic, which kept Capaldi and Wood and also the Traffic `s name with a good reputation. IMO, Traffic was considered then as the combination of Capaldi, Winwood and Wood working together, sometimes with Dave Mason too, and with or without other members in the band.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The last exit?

"When the eagle flies" was recorded by Traffic after their creative peak. It has the sound of a band rather going through the motions of making one of several "final" albums. The line up consists of Winwood, Capaldi and Wood, joined by Rosko Gee on bass. Traffic would break up after the promotional tour for the album. All but one of the songs are written by Winwood and Capaldi, the sole exception being the 11 minute "Dream Gerrard", which Steve wrote, with Viv Stanshall (Bonzo's) supplying the lyrics.

After an upbeat opener "Something new" which ironically harks back to the band's early days, we are quickly into the lengthy, relaxed tones of "Dream Gerrard". While the song has a rather disjointed feel, with long jazz based improvisations, there is some glorious mellotron which lifts the piece considerably. Yes, it could have been much better, but after a few listens it does begin to reveal its underlying beauty.

For me, "Walking in the wind" is the best of the bunch. Steve supplies some superb organ on a track which would have fitted in well on the "John Barleycorn" album. The strong melody and fine vocal performance set the song apart on the album, and render it one of the band's finest tracks.

The remaining tracks are rather ordinary, low key affairs, with continuing jazz tinges. The closing title track has some decent organ again, but the meandering melody spoils a decent vocal performance.

In all, a mixed bag of an album, but it does grow with each listen (as a good prog album should). Jim Capaldi's lyrics are worthy of note, as is Steve Winwood's vocal and keyboard contribution. A few stronger melodies, and some more dynamic production and this could have been a fine swansong. The presentation is completed by a sleeve illustration and an embossed cover.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is usually under-rated even by the fans of the band. It is no wonder, because TRAFFIC split after its release and the fact that it came out after the series of excellent albums (John Barleycorn, Low Sparks and Shoot Out). But, repeated listening unveils some wonderful moments, particularly the trio of "Dream Gerrard", "Graveyard people" and "Walking in the Wind", which could have fit on any of above mentioned highlights. The sound is even more close to jazz rock than on previous efforts, with considerable soul and blues moments. Winwood adds several nice synthesizer solos (Moog?) and Mellotron sounds, while the newcomer Gee plays a funky/reggae style of bass, very rhythmic and melodic. Capaldi is in full form as drummer and lyricist, while Wood again shows that he was one of shamelessly the most neglected sax players in rock world, playing with a confident jazz-attitude and using electronic effects. True, the songwriting and arrangements are not on par with what you might expect, and "Memories of Rock'n'Rolla" and "Love" are so lame and too easy-listening soul ballads. But, overall the album "When the Eagle Flies" definitely deserves your attention. ***1/2
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Interesting to read some mixed reviews on When The Eagle Flies. It is important to note that while it was the last of the 70's albums to be released, Traffic did reform to release Far from Home in 1994. Many though view this as the last Traffic album.... Anyway overall this is a pretty solid release from Traffic. There are nuances to all that they did great before like ' Dream Gerard', almost 12 minutes of jazzy jamming riffs and the other highlight for me ' Walking In The Wind'. Gee on bass does an amiable job, all the normal usual suspects doing what they do best. One can understand why Traffic took a long hiatus after this as they may have been running low on ideas but it is still a very good album and is highly recommended.
Review by ZowieZiggy

There is nothing great to tell about this work, I'm afraid. Although not the last record of this band, it is the end of their golden days. Even if I have never been a huge "Traffic" fan, I have to admit that they released quite decent works of which my fave is their live set available on "Welcome To The Canteen".

I can't be thrilled by any of the songs featured here. These jazzy jams sounds ("Dream Gerrard") or blues-rock oriented music ("Walking In The Wind") are just numbers that don't work for me. At this time of my "Traffic" reviewing, I have to say that I am quite voiceless to see that they were switched from prog folk to eclectic.

My favourite song featured on this album is "Walking In The Wind": wonderful vocals, great bass play and is it necessary to tell that backing keys are great? I would have wished to get more like this one, but it won't be the case.

I guess that the band didn't want to stop their career on such a work and therefore came back twenty years later with a follow-up effort. But this is another story.

"When The Eagles Flies" is at best average IMHHO. Trying to find a gem is useless and even a great song is hard to find (out of seven). Two stars, no more.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars It might just be me but in some ways this is one of my favorite Traffic albums. Unlike most of the others I didn't discover this one until just recently, having been introduced to them with 'The Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys' and only giving cursory attention to the rest of their discography back in the seventies. I actually didn't even know about this one until coming across a mint-condition vinyl copy in a Chicago used record store not too long ago.

The lineup consists of the core remaining members Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood who were present on every Traffic album dating to 1967, and joined on this one by Jamaican bassist Rosco Gee. I'm not sure if they came to know Gee while recording 'Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory' in Jamaica the prior year or if they knew of him from some other source, but the addition works wonders for a band that was sounding a bit tepid by this twilight of their career as a group. This one was recorded at Basing Street Studios, the scene of such classics as 'Led Zeppelin IV', 'Aqualung' and Queen's 'News of the World', with other parts credited to The Island Mobile (whatever that was). And like so many Traffic details there's some historical confusion as well, since the main recording credit is given to Netherturkdonic, a 16-track studio that Winwood supposedly didn't build after Traffic broke up in late 1974. And another detail that is puzzling is the presence of Reebop Kwaku Baah on the cover sketch, who had been with the band for the three years leading up to this album but does not appear on it at all.

Gee gives many of the tracks here a jolt of rhythmic excitement, particularly the lengthy "Dream Gerrard" with its slightly reggae feel and jaunty organ/bass combo doing wonders for Winwood's soulful vocals. They almost sound like a much more talented version of UB40 circa their first couple of albums on this one.

Elsewhere the lazy jazz tendencies of the past two albums emerge again, most notably with the lounging and spacey "Graveyard People", the title track, and brief but touching "Love".

"Memories of a Rock n' Rolla" is a bit too nostalgic for my tastes but features pretty good guitar work from Winwood and a playful Gee bass line so its not too bad despite the cheesy lyrics. And the finest moment comes midway with the grooving reggae-scented "Walking in the Wind", a bass-driven thing with heavy, brooding organ, sparse piano and lyrics that read like something that started out as a love song and got red-penned midway by Bob Marley into a sort of semi-political world view through jaded eyes. The lyrics don't really fit the Traffic mold but the song is solid and would become their last single except for a live track released at the same time as their 1994 reunion CD.

The title track may be the most progressive song on the album with syncopated undercurrent rhythms atop an English folk-influenced vocal track and constantly shifting tempo dominated by piano and Winwood's sorrowful singing that at times suggests just a bit of Peter Gabriel but without the range. I actually think this would have been a better opening track than a closing one.

This was the third and final swan-song for the band though, as Winwood was feeling the itch of a solo career again and Capaldi had already tasted of one with his own record deal a couple year's prior. Wood was in the throws of a deep alcohol addiction, which would eventually hasten his demise eight years later. Critics were pretty hard on the album, although it did manage to score the band their fourth gold record and led to a final tour before they called it quits for good.

Like I said at the outset, this is one of my favorite Traffic albums, and like Supertramp's 'famous last words...' it is thick with the scent of a brilliant but dying musical force. I don't have any problem giving this four out of five stars for the range and emotion in the songs, and given time and temperance can easily ignore any sense of loss thinking what might have been for a great band that faded away far too soon. Highly recommended.


Review by patrickq
2 stars Released in September 1974, When the Eagle Flies is an improvement, however slight, over Traffic's prior effort, Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory (1973), but it doesn't approach the quality of their best albums, John Barleycorn Must Die (1970) and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (1971). By 1972, the band had established its own sound, and they'd done it via high-quality compositions and performances. But by the time they returned in 1973 after a hiatus marked by health and drug-abuse issues among the core members, most of their new music fell into one of two categories: it either rambled, Ó la the Grateful Dead, or sounded like spot-on knock-offs of mediocre Traffic songs.

To a large extent, When the Eagle Flies is more of the same, a situation encapsulated in its final two songs. Either of the closing tunes - - 'Love' and 'When the Eagle Flies' - - might possibly have been the basis of a solid song. But as it stands, each is rudimentary; compared to Traffic's better work, these songs are linear: the rough idea is stretched in one dimension only. This is the case with the music as well as the lyrics. For example, throughout the album I get the sense that lyricist Jim Capaldi and/or vocalist Steve Winwood is talking to the wall; as the album closes, it's made clear: 'do you hear me, mother nature, do you hear me? do you hear me? / do you hear me, mother nature?'' A cursory reading of 'When the Eagle Flies' makes it clear: no, she doesn't hear you.

It's tough to argue with the basic premise of 'When the Eagle Flies:' humans haven't been terribly kind to their natural habitat. It's the Noah's-ark story with an important twist: a great bird signals the beginning of the wrath. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, producing songs about human impacts on the environment was acceptable for rock artists (e.g., Spirit ('Nature's Way'), Jefferson Airplane ('Eskimo Blue Day')) as well as popular artists (e.g., Marvin Gaye ('Mercy Mercy Me') and Cat Stevens ('Where Do the Children Play?')). I'm also reminded of the judgement-day song 'In the Year 2525,' by Zager and Evans, which spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969.

By 1974, the nature's-vengeance schtick was passÚ, but Capaldi and company soldiered on: 'wrapped up in your mink coat / you will be stepping from your Cadillac and in a microflash / gonna feel the lash of big eagle's wing across your back.' I guess one of the stumbling blocks for me is the question of audience: who exactly is the singer addressing when he says, for example, 'don't you start to cry when you're about to die / you gotta stand and take it like a man 'cause you've been taking instead of giving / and all the while you've been living lies'? At least 'Love' is transparent on that score: 'I need somebody or else I'm gonna die / oh love, if you need me, just call...' And while 'When the Eagle Flies' finds the group in an indeterminate jam reminiscent of the Dead or the Band, 'Love' is an exemplar of Traffic trying to recapture the magic, so to speak, by at least sounding like Traffic.

To be fair, there is some magic on When the Eagle Flies. The back-to-back tracks 'Dream Gerrard'* and 'Graveyard People' make for an enjoyable seventeen minutes, and it's fun to hear Winwood experimenting with an analog synthesizer on 'Graveyard People' and 'Walking in the Wind;' and the guitar solo with which he closes 'Memories of a Rock 'n' Rolla' is pretty good as well. But the glitter that had rubbed off after The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys was still gone; the mediocre Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory was no fluke. As I understand it, Winwood simply walked offstage in the middle of a show in 1974 and that was it until he and Capaldi reunited for a one-shot tour and album twenty years later. After five or six wilderness years, Winwood made an improbable and very successful comeback as a pop musician in the 1980s. Anyway, while When the Eagle Flies is no disaster, it bears little similarity in style or quality to Traffic's definitive albums or to Winwood's later solo hits. This one's for serious fans for whom a best-of collection is insufficient.


*The one case on When the Eagle Flies where Capaldi is not the lyricist; Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band wrote the words to "Dream Gerrard."

Latest members reviews

3 stars As Shoot Out, another discreet album, their last, in this case. Nevertheless, a pleasant way to say goodbye... Starting with the funny "Something New", the album starts fresh and energetic. "Dream Gerrard" has a great intro, but as Rollright Stones and Low spark..., it tends to ramble on a rep ... (read more)

Report this review (#113528) | Posted by sircosick | Sunday, February 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Like LAST EXIT, traffic ended it's second phase on a low note. WHEN THE EAGLE FLIES sounds somber and at time poor when compared to SHOOT OUT. "Something New" is pretty good, as is "Memories of a Rock'n'Rolla" but that's about it. "Dream Gerrard" is the epic for the album, and along with th ... (read more)

Report this review (#33790) | Posted by Tenorsaxman89 | Friday, May 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Don't forget this album. The last Traffic album from the second phase. A descent album with a true masterpiece: "Dream Gerrard", try to download this and enjoy before you buy. The three first albums from Traffic are excellent psychedelic rock, but that, "The low spark...", "Shoot out..." and " ... (read more)

Report this review (#33789) | Posted by | Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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