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Traffic Live at Santa Monica  album cover
3.77 | 11 ratings | 4 reviews | 18% 5 stars

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DVD/Video, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
2. Light Up or Leave Me Alone
3. John Barleycorn
4. Rainmaker
5. Glad
6. Freedom Rider
7. Forty Thousand Headmen
8. Dear Mr. Fantasy

Total Time: 64 minutes

Line-up / Musicians

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

Releases information

VHS Island Visual Arts / Polygram Video, 083 203-3
DVD Universal/PPL PPCR-019 (2008)

Thanks to Guillermo for the addition
and to finnforest for the last updates
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TRAFFIC Live at Santa Monica ratings distribution

(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(64%)
Good, but non-essential (9%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TRAFFIC Live at Santa Monica reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by micky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars ahhh... micky lovingly and reverently picks out a worn, bruised, and battered VHS copy of this and remembers....

Traffic was actually my first independent prog discovery outside of my parents. Neither being much of a Steve Winwood fan. This is a FABULOUS concert experience.. the next best thing to being there. With a couple minor complaints... a near flawless concert video. Lots of close-ups of the main players here. Chris Woods frenetic saxophone solo in Glad, Winwoods guitar on Dear Mr. Fantasy, his piano on Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Reebop's intoxicating congo solo. Jim Capaldi giving it his all on Light Up or Leave Me Alone. It really is a Traffic greatest hits.... in a nutshell of course.... live.

There are some 'special effects' that plague some 'classic' rock preformances present here in spots however unlike Pictures At An Exhibition though.. I think they actually add something. Prime example the kaleidescope of colours and images during Winwood's eerie solo during the second half of Glad. A star deduction though for those who really have a hang up for those groovy kind of things hahah.

Fans of Folk-Prog which Traffic is listed under will love the THREE gems included on here. John Barleycorn, Rainmaker, and Forty Thousand Headmen. I did deduct a star for the special effects so I should balance it by giving a star for Steve Winwood's shirt (the fashion police were obviously missing in 1973) and the chance to see the typically solid Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section perform.

For me all of these songs are essentials of Traffic and are pure enjoyment to watch. Four stars... Excellent but of course not essential.

one note though...

I have had my copy before the release date listed on the site. I remember watching Glad/Freedom Rider in 1990 the night before I was shipped overseas. I believe I got a copy in 1988.

Michael (aka micky)

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars I had heard for years of a filmed concert performance of the Traffic line-up that made my favourite Fantasy Factory, but the fact that it could've been released as a videocassette a long time ago had never struck me, until my buddy Micky reminded me of it. So after a quick search, I found that this little musical jewel had been released quite sometime ago, but has yet to be released on DVD. So I rushed out to get it, ran up the stairs, open a bottle of Chinon, popped the thing into the deck and let the music flow.

From the first of low Spark of High Heeled Boys, to the closing Dear Mr fantasy, this concert footage is prime quality offering a real good insight of the band, an essential look in the last days of hippy idealism, really fading by then. But if this is the line-up of SOATFF, this concert was clearly in the wake of the previous album's release. Some of the fans came down on this line-up (featuring two Muscle Shoals session men Roscoe Gee and David Hood in place of Mason and Grech) for lacking inspiration, but this line-up was touring for over two years, recording the On The Road double live album as well. The only thing I have to say is that the sound quality does not appear to be that good (the rental VHS is probably worn down, but there were also some problems from the mixing desk.

Yet the full concert (even with a few glitches and taken over more than one night) is a pure joy to watch and listen to. The set is mainly taken from their best two album to date (JBMD and LSOHHB) and they finish off with a few crowd favourite oldies. Yes some lengths are present at times, but it never gets over-indulgent and reflects the great ambiances of those days, no matter what detractors might say. One of the few flaws is that the two studio beast are obviously a bit shy in their playing as if not completely comfortable on stage, yet (this will not be the case in the 73's OTR live album), which does hinder the dynamic of the group on stage.

The one filming of Traffic that needs a DVD release (most likely coming soon with other vintage stuff as bonus), this is essential viewing to this group's glory days.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars I remember that in the mid or late seventies there were in one T.V. channel in my city musical programmes which broadcasted live clips or promotional videos from some bands. I remember watching the T.V. as a child to some of those programmes artists like Leon Russell (who had some female back singers who were pretty!), The Who, Traffic, etc. One of these T.V. musical programmes was called "Alta Tension" ("High Tension"), and it was the only time until recently that I saw Traffic playing in concert, but I can`t remember now if these live clips were taken from this Santa Monica concert film.

This concert was filmed in February 1972, with new members Roger Hawkins and David Hood, both members of the very good and famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (the other two members were/are guitarist Jimmy Johnson and keyboard player Barry Beckett). These four musicians played on Jim Capaldi`s first solo album which he recorded in December 1971 in the Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama (the album also includes two songs recorded in London, one of which was recorded with the Traffic 1971 line-up of Capaldi (who played piano very well ), Winwood, Wood, Ric Grech, Reebop and Jim Gordon). This solo album, called "Oh How We Danced" was released in early 1972 (by the way, it is a very good album which unfortunately seems to be out of print in the present, but was released on CD in 1996 by Edsel Records). After Grech and Gordon left Traffic, Capaldi invited Hawkins and Hood to join Traffic as members for touring and also for studio recordings. It seems that they joined the band in early 1972, so this video shows them still trying to fit in the style of the band, but both play very well. I don`t know why Capaldi didn`t want to play the drums as he appears on front of the stage dancing and playing a tambourine or maracas apart from singing lead vocals on "Light Me Up or Leave Me Alone" which was composed by him, and backing vocals in other songs. Winwood plays organ, piano and guitar apart from being the main lead singer. Wood plays flute, electric sax (with some sound effects sounding sometimes like he was using a wah-wah pedal) and he sometimes plays piano or organ while Winwood played the guitar or piano or organ (like in "Dear Mr. Fantasy" , "Light Me Up or Leave Me Alone"). Reebop also plays very well his percussion instruments, and also has a percussion solo in one of the songs.

This is a very good video which shows how important was Wood as member of Traffic, and also shows how good was this band. This same line-up augmented by Barry Beckett on piano and organ (who joined the band until 1973) recorded the very good live album called "On the Road" (which also lists in the credits Jimmy Johnson as sound engineer). The "On the Road" album shows the band in better sound with the Muscle Shoals musicians playing even better, but this video is a good companion to the album, in my opinion. It also has some "psychedelic visual effects" which work well with the music .

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When concerts mattered

I'm pretty cynical about the state of modern live performance, where completely scripted shows and completely scripted fans court each other in the dance of predetermined expectation. To find authentic improvisation, surprises, and the spirit of music which comes from a loose set list and true immediacy, you must look well below the arena level these days. It wasn't always like that. Back in the "good old days" (I can feel the eyes rolling from the younger guys) bands at the arena level were capable of a true concert experience. Then the quality of the show was not determined necessarily by planning and professionalism, but by the moods of the members that particular day and perhaps what chemicals they had recently ingested. Whether this is good or bad for art is a personal judgment. I'll take the classic era concert experience over today's scripted one any day of the week.

This period show from Santa Monica, CA, captures the classic Traffic line-up in a ceremonious mood, and sees them delivering many favorites of the fans: Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, Dear Mr. Fantasy, John Barleycorn, Light Up, and Rainmaker. While Traffic were never a visual astonishment to view in the way The Who or Zeppelin were, they made up for it by providing a very atmospheric and narcotic listening experience. Like the Grateful Dead there are tasteful longer jams, and with Traffic come jazzy and prog-folk flavors, and lovely improvisations while still holding the melody and base of the album track together for the fan. In other words, they don't trash the studio cut in their live presentation. Steve Winwood steals the show in my opinion with his understated but nearly perfect vocals and piano. Chris Woods delivers solid saxophone and flute work. The video is very professionally shot with good clarity and great coverage of the members through close-ups and many different angles. Of course it looks tame by today's standards of lightning fast edits and light shows, but in reality this kind of presentation is preferable to those wishing to see the music created, as opposed to simply head-banging. There are some minimally psych-trippy special effects but thankfully they are kept short. The sound quality is decent for the period, but again, don't expect today's standard. Without question this is treasured document for fans of Traffic, to have a quality concert experience from their prime. Not to be missed. For me personally, three stars, as I'm not a huge fan of this band. I appreciate it, but I don't love it. Those who do will surely rate this 4-5 stars.

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