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TRAFFIC

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Traffic picture
Traffic biography
Formed in Birmingham, UK, in 1967 - Disbanded in 1975 - Partial reunion, with Winwood and Capaldi, in 1994.

TRAFFIC were formed in 1967 by Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason. Winwood had previously found fame in the SPENCER DAVIS GROUP whose biggest hit single was "Keep on running". While Traffic's sound then was very much of its time, the emphasis on Winwood's keyboards and Wood's wind instruments set them apart from their guitar driven peers.

The band's first single "Paper Sun", gave them instant chart success, reaching No. 5 in the UK. The follow up, Mason's "Hole In My Shoe", is probably their best know single, being a mildly amusing piece of psychedelia. Winwood was reportedly unimpressed with the song's success though, feeling it misrepresented his vision for the band.

The first album, "Mr Fantasy" followed the same year, but before it had even been released, Mason had left. Winwood's position as the dominant member of the band was already well established, his (and also Wood and Capaldi's) jazz orientation appearing at odds with Mason's lighter melodic style. Mason quickly returned however for the recording of the band's second album "Traffic" in 1968, writing or co-writing many of the tracks including his often covered "Feelin' Alright". It appears the band realised at that time that without Mason they would struggle to write sufficient material to meet their contractual obligations.

Mason was subsequently ejected from the band in 1969, Winwood later announcing that the band had run its course. Island records released what appeared to be a posthumous album of b-sides, singles, studio outtakes and live recordings in the form of the appropriately named "Last Exit". Winwood though was still contracted to Island for 2 more albums, so the following year he started work on a solo album, calling in Wood and Capaldi to assist. The TRAFFIC name was quickly resurrected, and the album, "John Barleycorn Must Die", was released. For many, this is Traffic's best album. While the title is taken from a traditional folk song, the music is a wonderful blend of prog, jazz, rock, and folk.

Following that album's release, Rick Grech (ex-FAMILY) joined, to ease the pressure on the multi-instrumental Winwood. Various subsequent line up additions and changes took place, including another return by Mason. The live album "Welcome To The Canteen" (strangely not credited to TRAFFIC, but to the band members individuall...
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Buy TRAFFIC Music


The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Remastered)The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Remastered)
Extra tracks · Reissued · Remastered
Island 2002
$5.88
$3.03 (used)
Traffic GoldTraffic Gold
Remastered
Island 2005
$6.22
$10.29 (used)
Traffic - 5 Classic AlbumsTraffic - 5 Classic Albums
Box set
Universal 2017
$11.93
$11.06 (used)
Mr. FantasyMr. Fantasy
Remastered
Island Uk 1999
$5.95
$7.49 (used)
John Barleycorn Must Die (Remastered)John Barleycorn Must Die (Remastered)
Extra tracks · Reissued · Remastered
Island 2001
$11.98
$3.57 (used)
Shootout At The Fantasy FactoryShootout At The Fantasy Factory
Remastered
Island 2003
$4.97
$4.52 (used)
TrafficTraffic
Remastered
Island Uk 1999
$5.95
$3.01 (used)
Far From HomeFar From Home
Virgin Records Us 1994
$39.99
$1.86 (used)
The Definitive CollectionThe Definitive Collection
Remastered
Island 2000
$17.98
$1.86 (used)
The Best of Traffic: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium CollectionThe Best of Traffic: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection
Island 2003
$5.94
$2.63 (used)

More places to buy TRAFFIC music online Buy TRAFFIC & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

TRAFFIC discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TRAFFIC top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.62 | 174 ratings
Mr. Fantasy
1967
3.39 | 51 ratings
Heaven Is In Your Mind
1968
3.43 | 131 ratings
Traffic
1968
2.73 | 81 ratings
Last Exit
1969
3.91 | 341 ratings
John Barleycorn Must Die
1970
4.07 | 309 ratings
The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
1971
3.72 | 172 ratings
Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory
1973
3.22 | 114 ratings
When The Eagle Flies
1974
3.07 | 53 ratings
Far From Home
1994

TRAFFIC Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.41 | 60 ratings
Welcome to the Canteen
1971
4.11 | 78 ratings
On The Road
1973

TRAFFIC Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.77 | 11 ratings
Live at Santa Monica
1991
3.77 | 9 ratings
The Last Great Traffic Jam
2005

TRAFFIC Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.85 | 17 ratings
The Best Of Traffic
1969
3.00 | 1 ratings
Heavy Traffic
1975
2.82 | 2 ratings
More Heavy Traffic
1975
4.06 | 12 ratings
Smiling Phases
1991
3.92 | 5 ratings
Heaven Is In Your Mind. An Introduction To Traffic
1998
4.00 | 2 ratings
Feelin' Alright: The Very Best of Traffic
2000
3.38 | 4 ratings
The Collection
2002
2.09 | 2 ratings
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Traffic
2003
4.22 | 10 ratings
Traffic Gold
2005

TRAFFIC Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

TRAFFIC Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 When The Eagle Flies by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.22 | 114 ratings

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When The Eagle Flies
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

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 the final two songs on the album. 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 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 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 in 1994. 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 this "Dream Gerrard."

 Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.72 | 172 ratings

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Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I agree with what seems like the majority of fans here: after Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory is a letdown. As Robert Christgau and others have pointed out, the title of the final song ("(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired") is a hint as to the album's contents.

The album isn't a total loss, but from the end of the title song through the first four minutes of "Tragic Magic" is twenty-one minutes of blah. That's a lot of blah, by the way on a thirty-nine-minute album. "Roll Right Stones" finds singer/multi-instrumentalist Steve Winwood and drummer Jim Capaldi - - who co-wrote most of the album - - trying to come up with a Traffic song, but settling for a meandering Grateful Dead track that at best might've been (literally) cut down by ten minutes* and put out as a b-side. Maybe the length of the track was symbolic of the thousands of years that the Rollright megaliths have existed.

"Evening Blue" is more of the same melding of British pop-folk and US pop-soul. It's rambling and a bit too casual for Traffic; neither Winwood's soulful voice nor Chris Wood's well-played saxophone stylings are enough to elevate this beyond the band's second- division pieces. And then Wood's instrumental "Tragic Magic" picks up where "Evening Blue" left off. The downtempo vibe of the prior seventeen minutes had been, to quote the Buckinghams, kind of a drag in places, and the first four minutes of "Tragic Magic" threatens to drag Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory into simple tedium.

Thankfully, the second section of "Tragic Magic" is based on a nearly out-of-nowhere woodwind vamp that reminds me of Fela Kuti's 1970s work. It doesn't exactly fit with the rest of Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory, but it's pretty great - - my only complaint is that this two-and-a-half-minute section wasn't much longer.

The opening and closing numbers are quite a bit more consistent than the middle of the album. The standout song here is the title track, which opens the album. It's a little different from the classic Traffic sound, though I can't explain exactly why. Maybe it's because there is no sign of either folk or R&B; while neither of these necessarily defined the band, one or the other (or both) were present in most of their work. Anyway, "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory" is one of Traffic's best songs. As is the case with "Tragic Magic," this one might've sounded pretty good if the improvisation Had gone on for a few more minutes.

The last song, "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired," is quasi-gospel, which is something Winwood can, and does, pull of. It's nothing terribly special compared to the average track on the group's prior two albums, but it's a welcome assurance that Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory wasn't just the title track plus filler.

Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory is, on the whole, a decent album, but while it's not Traffic's last album, it sounds like a record of a group of musicians who should probably take a break from each other. Although it's considerably better than the group's two- star debut Mr. Fantasy, Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory is nonetheless a two-star effort, and these two LPs serve to illustrate just how wide a range is encompassed by the two-star rating.

If you're interested in Traffic, I suggest you hold off on purchasing Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory until after listening to and enjoying John Barleycorn Must Die and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.

====

*"Roll Right Stones" was originally 13:47, and is restored to that time as of the 2003 Island remaster.

 The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 309 ratings

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The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys is a very good album and the equal to its predecessor, John Barleycorn Must Die. In fact, I'd say it's nearly John Barleycorn Must Die II.

The first incarnation of Traffic had two viable lead vocalists, guitarist Dave Mason and keyboardist Steve Winwood. But when the group reformed for John Barleycorn, it was comprised only of Winwood (who also played guitar and bass), multi-instrumentalist Chris Wood, and drummer Jim Capaldi. Confusingly, when the band doubled in size for The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, two of the new members, Jim Gordon and Rebop Kwaku Baah, were drummers/percussionists. Rounding out the six-piece was bassist Ric Grech. So Traffic had three members dedicated to percussionist, but no full-time guitarist.

Of the six compositions here, the four strongest are the Winwood-Capaldi compositions, all of which are sung by Winwood. Whereas Winwood did most of the singing on John Barleycorn, Capaldi sings lead on two songs here, "Rock & Roll Stew," written by Grech and Gordon, and "Light Up or Leave Me Alone," written by Capaldi himself. Both sound a bit out of place, but not because of Capaldi's vocals. "Rock & Roll Stew" is a good album-oriented rock song, reminding me a little of the Hollies, while "Light Up" sounds like the Doors, post-Morrison. Other than those two, the closest Traffic comes to a rocker here is the title song, featuring some surprisingly good lead guitar work by Winwood.

Despite the band's psychedelic proto-prog beginnings and its frequent jazziness, the fairest classification of Traffic as a prog-rock act "progressive folk." Indeed, half of The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys is comprised of three excellent folk-rock songs, "Hidden Treasure," "Many a Mile to Freedom," and "Rainmaker." Each is pastoral but not sing-song, and each balances the group's guitar-rock orientation with colorful chords and the judicious use of Wood's flute and Baah's congas.

The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys represents Traffic at their best, so I'd recommend it to anyone whose interest in the band has been piqued by having heard a song or two of theirs on the radio. Fans of prog-folk will also probably find plenty to enjoy here.

 Mr. Fantasy by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.62 | 174 ratings

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Mr. Fantasy
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Mr. Fantasy seemed like a no-brainer - - an album that had to be good. First, I'd been very impressed with Traffic's 1970 album John Barleycorn Must Die and its follow-up, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. I also liked Traffic's debut single, "Paper Sun," released a few months before Mr. Fantasy. There was also the fact that I knew of and liked the title track, "Dear Mr. Fantasy."

In opening the proceedings, "Heaven is in Your Mind" signals that this album would at least acknowledge the Motown affinity singer-pianist Steve Winwood had displayed on the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'." A good start - - but as it turns out, "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Heaven is in Your Mind" are the only strong tracks on Mr. Fantasy.

According to Wikipedia, Traffic recorded Mr. Fantasy between April and November of 1967. At the end of May, the Beatles' monumental Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, and it's hard to picture what Mr. Fantasy might've sounded like without the Beatles influence. The individual songs on Traffic's debut don't sound like Fab Four knockoffs, but from the stylistic approach (including having two divergent songwriters) to the diverse instrumentation to the juxtaposition of thoughtfulness (e.g., "No Face, No Name, No Number," "Hope I Never Find Me There") and amusing irreverence ("Berkshire Poppies" and especially "Hole in My Shoe," which appeared on the US release of the album), Mr. Fantasy is heavily Beatlesque. But unlike other late-1960s LPs sometimes considered "proto-prog,"Mr. Fantasy has not aged well.

Aside from the derivative feel, a major deficiency is the mismatch between Dave Mason's clever, from-the-head compositions, and the more from-the-heart songs jointly credited to Jim Capaldi, Winwood, and Chris Wood (or sometimes just to Capaldi-Winwood). Thus, the album is a collection of disparate songs rather than a synergistic whole à la Sgt. Pepper. But ultimately, my issue with Mr. Fantasy is the quality of the material. "No Face, No Name, No Number" and "Coloured Rain" are decent album cuts, which leaves six sub-par tracks. Replacing three of these with the singles "Smiling Phases," "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush," and "Paper Sun" would probably have made for a three-star album.

If you're a Traffic enthusiast or a fan of any of the individual members, you probably already have Mr. Fantasy and/or the superior US variant Heaven is in Your Mind. For anyone else I'd suggest any Traffic compilation which includes both of the title songs: "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Heaven is in Your Mind," including the two-CD Traffic Gold, the single disc sets 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Traffic and Feelin' Alright: The Very Best of Traffic, and the four-CD Winwood collections The Finer Things and Revolutions - - The Very Best of Steve Winwood. Most of these also have "Smiling Phases" and "Paper Sun."

P.S. There are just over a thousand singles and albums inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Sixty-nine of these are rock albums released after 1966 (this includes punk, country rock? any kind of rock). So we're talking about albums like Abbey Road, All Things Must Pass, Born to Run, Blood on the Tracks, Hotel California, Rumors, Tommy, and the White Album. Mr. Fantasy is also one of those albums. So take my advice with a proverbial grain of salt.

 The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.07 | 309 ratings

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The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by TheCrimsonPrince

5 stars This was the release the band was building up to their whole career. For me, their earlier albums are all-over-the- place, but this is where they succeed in finding their sound.

The band leans more towards rock than prog, ditching the symphonic overtones and heavy instrumentation even in their longest song. Each song is slow and bluesy but not dragging; Light Up Or Leave Me Alone, notably.

Hidden Treasure and Rainmaker are my personal favorites, but who could forget their most recognizable hit, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys? Traffic's lyricism hits its peak on this 12 minute track, but you can interpret it however you like. I lose it whenever the piano solo comes up - it is the pinnacle of jazz-rock blended with eclectic rock.

 John Barleycorn Must Die by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.91 | 341 ratings

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John Barleycorn Must Die
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by TheCrimsonPrince

4 stars This album is one of Traffic's greatest records, with such classic songs like Glad and the title track. Steve Winwood's wit shines once again. However, one major grievance I have with this album is that some of the tracks are poorly mixed, especially Glad. Some of the songs are great, like the two I mentioned plus Stranger to Himself, but the others are just good. Every Mother's Son is a bit boring, notably, but other than that, Traffic remain consistently entertaining and jazzy throughout. The most I can say about this album is that there's no moment that stands out, because all of the songs sound relatively similar - still, consistency matters.
 John Barleycorn Must Die by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.91 | 341 ratings

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John Barleycorn Must Die
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'll bet that there are plenty of serious prog-rock fans who haven't heard John Barleycorn Must Die in its entirety. I'm guessing this because there are so many "classic" albums I've never listened to closely. Plus, while Traffic is respected by many, it has quite a few degrees of separation from the big names - - Pink Floyd, Genesis, Jethro Tull, etc. There really isn't an obvious "gateway band" leading to Traffic. Stomu Yamash'ta, maybe?

I got this cassette around 1990 from a radio contest. I was the correct caller, and maybe had to answer a question. The winner got to stop by the station offices and choose a couple of cassettes. (My other choice was an Elton John tape: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, I think.) The version of John Barleycorn Must Die I'm reviewing is the first US CD issue (Island, 1990). I would describe the sound as flat, or compressed in its dynamic range, compared to what remastered CDs from the 1970s usually sound like. Nonetheless I'd say the production is good (most of the album is remastered on a box set I have, and these tracks sound good).

Traffic is listed under the "eclectic" subgenre, but of course that doesn't describe the music. In terms of progressiveness, John Barleycorn Must Die is roughly equal parts progressive folk and jazz rock. And given that Steve Winwood is the bandleader and main vocalist - - drummer Jim Capaldi provides harmony vocals on two songs - - there's some soulfulness as well. Guitarist/bassist/singer Dave Mason, who had appeared on the group's previous albums, is not on John Barleycorn Must Die.

Winwood plays all of the keyboard, guitar, and bass parts on the album except for the some of the organ parts on "Empty Pages," played by Chris Wood. Wood also plays all of the wind and reed instruments. Capaldi plays the drums on every song but "Stranger to Himself," on which Winwood is the drummer. The playing is solid throughout, with Winwood and Wood displaying some virtuosity, especially on "Glad."

The only weakness, in my opinion, is with the quality of some of the songs themselves. Side one of the original vinyl, the jazzier side, is made up of excellent compositions: "Glad," "Freedom Rider," and "Empty Pages." The centerpiece of the second side, "John Barleycorn," is a centuries-old English folk song arranged by Winwood to good effect. But the remaining songs, "Stranger to Himself" and "Every Mother's Son," are relatively bland. I'm reminded of the title of a 1972 Winwood-Capaldi composition: "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired."

But while they are certainly the weakest songs on John Barleycorn Must Die, "Stranger to Himself" and "Every Mother's Son" nonetheless are each a good fit, a logical part of a cohesive album.

Overall, a very good album, and one I would recommend to any fan of progressive rock.

 Far From Home by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.07 | 53 ratings

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Far From Home
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by aglasshouse

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.

 Welcome to the Canteen by TRAFFIC album cover Live, 1971
3.41 | 60 ratings

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Welcome to the Canteen
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by thwok

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 interesting. One of the best things about this album is the fact that they play a variety of songs from different albums.

I only have two relatively minor complaints. The first is that Reebop's contributions, as skilled as he is, are not essential IMO. I much prefer the original "Gimme Some Lovin" to this rearrangement. The other is regarding the order of the album. It's unbalanced, with all the longer songs at the end. It must have been a frustrating problem in the early 70's. These days, of course, it's easily fixed. On the whole, Welcome to the Canteen is an excellent live album by one of the most unique and skillful bands of the 1970's.

 On The Road by TRAFFIC album cover Live, 1973
4.11 | 78 ratings

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On The Road
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by aglasshouse

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 year. Like any progressive rock band Traffic has to live up to other amazing live performances by other bands of it's caliber. Welcome to the Canteen wasn't terrible two years prior but it's undoubtedly pushed aside by the fantastic jam that this is.

With a very small track-list of only four songs, The performance does lack slightly on the variety they could have had if they had played from their earlier albums. But the epics are the ones to come first which is always pleasant. 'Low Spark' is obviously the main event here; the icing on the cake if you will. With a run time that goes about five minutes or so over the studio version, Traffic really does play their hearts out over this one. Their playing on it is unbroken and contrasts very well with the original, albeit with some more jazz and psychedelic tidbits in the longer time-span. The band does rock pretty hard as well with 'Shoot Out' where the tempo's quickened to a beating pace. Again, flawless performance with Winwood's fantastic playing. '(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired' was spiced up a little to the point where it seemed more like 'Sometimes I feel so inspired'. Even 'Light Up or Leave Me Alone', perhaps my least favorite track on Low Spark was made great with a longer run time for more experimentation and rocking capabilities. Truly marvelous.

A great staple on the progressive live performance scene if I've ever seen one.

Thanks to easy livin for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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