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TRAFFIC

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Traffic biography
TRAFFIC were formed in Birmingham, UK 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 individually) offers a good summary of their work during this period.

Despite further line up changes...
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The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Remastered)The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Remastered)
Extra tracks · Remastered
Island 2002
Audio CD$4.30
$3.00 (used)
The Definitive CollectionThe Definitive Collection
Remastered
Island 2000
Audio CD$4.30
$3.05 (used)
John Barleycorn Must Die (Remastered)John Barleycorn Must Die (Remastered)
Extra tracks · Remastered
Island 2001
Audio CD$3.54
$2.68 (used)
Traffic (Remastered)Traffic (Remastered)
Extra tracks · Remastered
Island 2001
Audio CD$3.18
$1.74 (used)
Shootout At The Fantasy Factory (Remastered)Shootout At The Fantasy Factory (Remastered)
Remastered
Island 2003
Audio CD$2.23
$2.47 (used)
Traffic GoldTraffic Gold
Remastered
Island 2005
Audio CD$8.87
$3.00 (used)
Welcome To The Canteen (Remastered)Welcome To The Canteen (Remastered)
Remastered
Island 2002
Audio CD$2.83
$1.82 (used)
Mr FantasyMr Fantasy
Import · Remastered
Island UK 1999
Audio CD$4.99
$7.28 (used)
Heaven Is In Your Mind (Remastered U.S. Vers.)Heaven Is In Your Mind (Remastered U.S. Vers.)
Extra tracks · Remastered
Island 2000
Audio CD$7.98
$6.45 (used)
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TRIPLE: TRAFFIC [33 RPM Vinyl] Heavy Traffic, Last Exit/Traffic, On The Road USD $12.75 Buy It Now 31m 46s
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TRAFFIC Heaven Is In Your Mind - An Introduction To CD 11 Track Promo UK Island USD $7.66 Buy It Now 2h 27m
TRAFFIC Here Comes A Man CD 3 Track Lp Radio Mix Promo US Virgin 1994 USD $5.59 Buy It Now 2h 27m
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STATUS QUO Heavy Traffic CD 14 Track EUROPEAN Universal 2002 USD $7.20 Buy It Now 2h 28m
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Traffic The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys Original Sleeve USD $9.00 Buy It Now 6h 58m
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78 rpm ARTIE SHAW serenade to a savage / traffic jam USD $23.03 Buy It Now 7h 39m
Siah & Yeshua dapoED - The Visualz Anthology - CD (2008 Traffic TEG-4508-2) USD $14.30 Buy It Now 7h 42m
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TRAFFIC Traffic Remastered CD+ Bonus Tracks NEW USD $9.75 Buy It Now 8h 3m
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8h 53m
TRAFFIC- FEELING ALRIGHT VINYL 7" 45RPM p USD $1.92 Buy It Now 8h 56m
Traffic Steve Winwood Dave Mason - Welcome to the Canteen - DISC: VG+/VG OOP USD $3.99 Buy It Now 9h 16m
TRAFFIC S/T LP-1968 ISLAND 90059-1 12" POP BLUES ROCK R&B PSYCH STEVE WINWOOD VG USD $14.99 Buy It Now 9h 22m
Traffic from Paradise RICKIE LEE JONES (CD, 1993, Geffen) feat Lovett Kottke NEW USD $2.99 Buy It Now 9h 35m
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Why Am I So Happy by Spose (CD, Jul-2015, Traffic Entertainment Group) USD $8.27 Buy It Now 11h 42m
Afterwords by Edo.G/Street Wyze (Vinyl, Jul-2015, Traffic Entertainment Group) USD $18.57 Buy It Now 11h 42m
PUNK - THE RUMOUR - EMOTIONAL TRAFFIC - RED VINYL - PICTURE COVER USD $2.29 [1 bids]
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Traffic Last Exit 8 Track Tape TESTED USD $15.00 Buy It Now 11h 52m
TRAFFIC/MR FANTASY MONO ORIG UK ILP961 USD $258.00 Buy It Now 11h 58m
TRAFFIC/BEST OF TRAFFIC ORIG UK ILPS9112 USD $108.00 Buy It Now 11h 59m
U2/GRACE JONES/BOB MARLEY/TRAFFIC-ISLAND STORY-DOUBLE YUGO CASSETTE TAPE 1987 USD $14.99 Buy It Now 12h 12m
Best of TRAFFIC Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi LP VG+ USD $6.98 Buy It Now 12h 16m
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys by Traffic (CD, Jun-1990, Island (Label)) USD $5.99 Buy It Now 12h 16m
RICKIE LEE JONES - TRAFFIC FROM PARADISE - CASSETTE TAPE - GEFFEN (1993) USD $7.66 Buy It Now 12h 17m
TRAFFIC - The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys 6 SIDED COVER LP USD $19.99 Buy It Now 12h 27m
Traffic Jam Jazz Volume 1 by Various Artists CD USD $2.10 Buy It Now 12h 41m
Traffic Mr. Fantasy Japan CD Bonus Tracks USD $19.99 Buy It Now 12h 47m
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Traffic Jam Jazz Volume 3 by Various Artists CD (2001) USD $2.10 Buy It Now 12h 56m
TRAFFIC - PAPER SUN / GIVING TO YOU 7" - 1967 UK ISLAND 1ST PRESS MISPRINT USD $7.66 [0 bids]
13h 15m
Cassette x 4 Steve Winwood Traffic Jim Capaldi Fiece Heart Low Spark of High Hee USD $9.99 Buy It Now 13h 17m
Traffic Shootout At The Fantasy Factory 1973 Island 90027 Hard Rock LP VG++ USD $14.99 Buy It Now 13h 46m
DAVE MASON (TRAFFIC), IT'S LIKE YOU NEVER LEFT,1973,VINYL EXCELLENT CONDITION USD $13.80 [0 bids]
13h 51m
UNDERGROUND GOLD -LIBERTY V.A. LP- CANNED HEAT, TRAFFIC USD $12.95 Buy It Now 13h 58m
TOP POP STARS,1968,62 PAGES,JIMI HENDRIX,ROLLING STONES,TROGGS,TRAFFIC.S FACES++ USD $13.80 [0 bids]
13h 58m
TRAFFIC, HERE COMES A MAN b/w GLAD(live), 45 RPM RECORD! 1994, MINT- ! USD $4.95 Buy It Now 14h
THE HEADCASE LADZ / GET A LIFE DBL LP UK 2005 WELSH HIP HOP VINYL ZEBRA TRAFFIC USD $4.59 Buy It Now 14h 4m
TRAFFIC - HOLE IN MY SHOE. ( EX. UK, 1967, ORIGINAL, PINK ISLAND, WIP-6017) USD $4.59 [0 bids]
14h 9m
TRAFFIC-(LP)-JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE - "FREEDOM RIDER" RECORD CLUB REISSUE-80'S USD $11.99 Buy It Now 14h 44m
1970 TRAFFIC-"JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE" UAS 5504 STEVE WINWOOD GATEFOLD USD $4.99 [0 bids]
14h 54m


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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)

3.68 | 128 ratings
Mr. Fantasy
1967
3.41 | 40 ratings
Heaven Is in Your Mind
1968
3.41 | 101 ratings
Traffic
1968
2.69 | 64 ratings
Last Exit
1969
3.89 | 262 ratings
John Barleycorn Must Die
1970
4.03 | 236 ratings
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
1971
3.81 | 130 ratings
Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory
1973
3.29 | 86 ratings
When The Eagle Flies
1974
3.07 | 44 ratings
Far From Home
1994

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

3.36 | 52 ratings
Welcome to the Canteen
1971
4.08 | 62 ratings
On The Road
1973

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

3.76 | 9 ratings
Live at Santa Monica
1991
3.76 | 7 ratings
The Last Great Traffic Jam
2005

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

2.75 | 14 ratings
The Best Of Traffic
1969
3.00 | 1 ratings
Heavy Traffic
1975
2.82 | 2 ratings
More Heavy Traffic
1975
4.07 | 9 ratings
Smiling Phases
1991
3.91 | 3 ratings
Heaven Is In Your Mind. An Introduction To Traffic
1998
4.00 | 1 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
4.10 | 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
 On The Road by TRAFFIC album cover Live, 1973
4.08 | 62 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.

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 Traffic by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.41 | 101 ratings

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Traffic
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars While 1967's Mr. Fantasy was inspired by the psychedelic bands of the time, Traffic evolved rapidly and suddenly with the release of their second album the coming year. Folk rock entered the stage in a much more prominent role, mostly carried by Mason's song writing. What came from the self titled was doubtlessly more structured than the prior, and acclaimed similar positive critical reception.

Traffic takes a different approach on the composition, with a theme of split sides; one being the bouncy, folk Mason end where all songs are catchy and sing-song. The opposite end is led by the haunting Winwood, whose writing I've always preferred due to it's stylistic nature of more prominent coinciding elements. The music especially from Winwood ages much better than the 60's-born folk that Mason wrote. I won't deny that Mason struck gold a few times, although songs like the slightly annoying 'You Can All Join In', mostly meant as a sort of sing-a-long (living truly up to it's name) tone, can get degrading the more times you cycle through the album.

As for instrumentation, consistency is something the album does best. Sometimes vocals from Mason, Winwood and Capaldi can get a little strained to match the pitch of the song, but the actually instruments maintain the beat steadily and don't find much issue in jumping back and forth across the different styles presented each track.

This self titled from the late 60s is of course emblazoned with the stamp of the decade, but is less of a product of the times as Mr. Fantasy unduly was. Unique variation is something that is found in large amount with all of the tracks. Anyone, prog fan or not, could find this enjoyable in some way. Fun for the whole family!

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 Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.81 | 130 ratings

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Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In December 1971, Ric Grech and Jim Gordon left TRAFFIC, and Jim Capaldi went to record a solo album to Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama with the famous musicians from The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (drummer Roger Hawkins, bassist David Hood, keyboard player Barry Beckett, and guitarist Jimmy Johnson), plus The Muscle Shoals Horns. That first solo album was titled "Oh How We Danced", and six of the eight songs from that album were recorded in Alabama, while two other songs were recorded in London, one of which ("Open Your Heart") was recorded with TRAFFIC`s line-up of their previous album titled "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys". Some of the eight songs from that album also have appearances from Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, Reebop and Dave Mason. The album was released in April 1972, and at least in my country, Capaldi had a Hit Single with "Eve", the first song from that album which was (and still is) played in some FM Radio stations in my city. It seems that by that time Steve Winwood became ill with peritonitis, but when he recovered from that illness, Capaldi suggested to invite Roger Hawkins and David Hood to join TRAFFIC. They joined the band and started playing concerts, one of which was filmed and released as "Live at Santa Monica" in 1972. Later the band went to Jamaica to record a new studio album, titled "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory". which was released in February 1973.

This album is less inspired by Folk music and most songs are more inspired by Rock music in general, with Winwood playing some distorted guitars in several parts. This can be listened more clearly in the title track of the album which also has some very good Latin music influenced percussion playing from Capaldi and Reebop. "Roll Right Stones" has a very good electric sax solo played by Chris Wood (with some "wah-wah" sound effects) in the extended final instrumental section of this song. "In "Evening Blue" Winwood plays acoustic guitars and maybe this is the most "relaxed" song in this album. The next song, "Tragic Magic", was composed by Chris Wood (all the other songs from this album were composed by Winwood and Capaldi), and this instrumental song has a lot of influences from Jazz Rock music with very good saxophones played by Wood. The final song in this album, and maybe the best from this album, is "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired", a song with somewhat sad lyrics. Maybe Capaldi (the lyricist) was a bit tired of being working in the music bussiness, so he wrote the lyrics of this song. The music in this song is particularly very good, and this song includes very good lead guitar parts played by Winwood. In this album Capaldi did not sing lead vocals on any song, but his backing vocals are listened more clearly in "Roll Right Stones". Jimmy Johnson and Barry Beckett are mentioned with a "thanks to" in the credits section in the album s cover, but it is not clear at least for me if they also played in some parts of this album.

For their 1973 tours the band also invited Barry Beckett to join the band on keyboards, giving more freedom to Winwood to play guitar or keyboards as he wanted apart from singing lead vocals on most songs, and also giving freedom to Chris Wood who previously sometimes also played keyboards in some songs while Winwood played guitar or other keyboards. I think that this line-up of the band was one of the best they had, with the three members of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section being very good and experienced musicians, playing very well. This line-up recorded the very good live album titled "On the Road" in Germany in April 1973. Jimmy Johnson also joined the band but as sound engineer for the concerts. Unfortunately, all these very good musicians from The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section left the band in September 1973 (but they carried on working with Capaldi in some of his solo albums from the mid seventies). Capaldi then returned to play drums with the band, while their new bass player was Rosko Gee, from Jamaica. Reebop stayed with the band until mid 1974, with him apparently appearing uncredited in two songs from TRAFFIC`s next and then last album (titled "When the Eagle Flies", which was released in September 1974) before they split in December 1974.

This album, "Shoot at the Fantasy Factory" is very good. It also has a vey good recording and mixing, and like their previous album from 1971 ("The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys") it also has a very original cover design done by Tony Wright.

After a long time of not listening to some of TRAFFIC`s albums, it really was very good and enjoyable for me to listen to them again recently. TRAFFIC was a very good band, in my opinion, despite all the changes in personnel they had.

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 The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.03 | 236 ratings

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The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In 1971, the line-up of the band was expanded to include Reebop Kwaku Baah (congas, timbales, bongos) and Jim Gordon (drums). At that time, Jim Capaldi wanted to have a more prominent role in the band as lead and backing singer. So, maybe that was the main reason to have Gordon as drummer. Anyway, with Capaldi and Reebop the band had a more percussive sound, with both of them contributing very good things to the band. And in this album Capaldi sang lead vocals in two songs, a thing that only happened in this album while he was in the band.

This album is very well played, recorded and mixed. Maybe more than "John Barleycorn Must Die". Maybe they had more time to rehearse and to record this album in 1971, which was recorded after their "Welcome to the Canteen" live album wihich had Dave Mason as guest (he was guest in six dates that the band played during July 1971, but he left the band again after this happened). This new studio album was recorded in September 1971 and was released in November 1971. By December 1971, both Ric Grech and Jim Gordon have left the band.

In this album, the band again showed the influences from Jazz and Folk music.

"Hidden Treasure" (Winwood /Capaldi) is a slow acoustic song with good flute arrangements with Folk influences.

"The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" (Winwood /Capaldi) is a very good song with Jazz influences with good piano and organ solos by Steve Winwood and good sax solos by Chris Wood.

"Rock and Roll Stew" (Ric Grech / Jim Gordon) is a rocker with good guitars by Steve Winwood and sung by Capaldi. This song was played in concert by the band even after Grech and Gordon (the composers of this song) left the band.

"Many a Mile to Freedom" (Winwood / Anna Capaldi) is also a good slow song with very good arrangements.

"Light Up or Leave Me Alone" (Capaldi) is a very good Pop Rock song, sung by Capaldi. This song maybe was played better in concert, like the title song of this album. Having two songs to sing in this album maybe gave Capaldi more confidence to compose more songs alone and to record his first solo album titled "Oh How We Danced", which he recorded in December 1971 and was released in April 1972.

"Rainmaker" (Winwood / Capaldi) is mostly a Folk music influenced song with very good flute and sax arrangements by Wood. It shows how great was his influence as musician in TRAFFIC despite not writing songs for this album. It also has a very good final part with a very good violin solo played by Grech and some very good percussion arrangements by Capaldi and Reebop. Steve Winwood`s official website says that in this song the drums were played by Mike Kellie, member of SPOOKY TOOTH.

This album is very good. Also the cover design is very good and original. The same happened with the cover design of their next album, "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory", which was designed by the same person (Tony Wright).

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 John Barleycorn Must Die by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.89 | 262 ratings

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John Barleycorn Must Die
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After the release of their second album titled "Traffic" in 1968, Dave Mason was again "out of the band", and the remaining trio toured for a time unitl late 1968, when Steve Winwood left the band, and the band was over for a time. But Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, with Dave Mason and organist Mick Weaver (AKA "Wynder K. Frog") started playing together as a new band called MASON, CAPALDI, WOOD AND FROG (AKA "WOODEN FROG") until March 1969, when they split, only leaving a few BBC recordings. This band mainly played songs composed by Mason (which he also recorded later as a soloist) plus covers of a few Blues songs. Winwood left TRAFFIC to form a "Super-Group" with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech, called BLIND FAITH, which only lasted for an album and a tour, a band which never left the members very satisfied musically and personally despite the success of their album and tour. By September 1969, Eric Clapton was out of BLIND FAITH, and the remaining members of that band went to play for some months in GINGER BAKER`s AIRFORCE, a band which also included other musicians. After recording one album with them, Winwood left that band in early 1970 and started to recod a solo album with Guy Stevens as producer, using "Mad Shadows" as the working title for that planned album. Anyway, it seems that Winwood was not very happy working with Stevens as producer, and after recording a few songs / demos, he contacted Capaldi and Wood and started playing and recording with them again. So good were the results that finally they decided to reform TRAFFIC and to record this album titled "John Barleycorn Must Die", which was released in mid 1970.

The band had some changes in sound and style, but they still sounded as the "old" TRAFFIC, as Capaldi, Winwood and Wood were always (at least unitl 1974) the main members of the band, with only some changes in the other members of the band. Another change was that Wood, while in 1967-68 he was one of the main composers in the band with Capaldi and Winwood, from 1970 to 1974 he did not participate very much in the songwriting, leaving it mainly to Capaldi and Winwood.

This album from 1970 also shows new musical influences, like some Jazz influences in "Glad" and "Empty Pages", and some Folk music influences in "John Barleycorn", a traditional song which Wood brought to the band to record for this album. And one as a listener really can listen to this album as really being a half Winwood solo album / half TRAFFIC album, because Wood only appears in four of the six songs from the original release (he does not appear in "Stranger to Himself" and in "Every Mother`s Son"). Capaldi appears in all songs, but he only sang backing vocals in "Stranger to Himself", with all the instruments and lead vocals in that song being played by Winwood. The remastered CD released in 1999 also included two bonus studio tracks ("I Just Want to Know" and "Sittin`Here Thinkin`of my Love") with both entirely played and sung by Winwood, and they sound more as demos from his then solo album than as TRAFFIC`s songs (but with both being credited as songs composed by Winwood and Capaldi). Anyway, the album is very enjoyable as a whole, with all songs (except "Glad", which was composed by Winwood alone) being credited as composed by Winwood / Capaldi.

The remastered CD released in 1999 also included two songs (plus an humorous stage introduction done by promoter Bill Graham) recorded for a then planned but never released live album, recorded at the Fillmore East in New York in 18-November-1970. By April 1970 the trio was playing all the songs of the new album in concerts, but by August 1970 Ric Grech was a new member of the band, giving some freedom to Winwood (who played bass pedals in concert most of the time with the band, sometimes helped a bit by Wood while Winwood played guitar), and Grech appears playing guitar in "Who Knows What Tommorrow May Bring" and bass guitar in "Glad". "Glad" was originally followed in concert, as in the album, by "Freedom Rider", but in this bonus track the song is faded out before "Freedom Rider" starts.

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 The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.03 | 236 ratings

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The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by aglasshouse

5 stars Traffic's 1971 release of the oddly named The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys gives off an air of great stylistic qualities, and has deservingly been noted as the band's greatest achievement. Unlike Gentle Giant, another well known band of the eclectic progressive genre, Traffic's music tends to slow-dance over the line of folk rock, jazz, and of course eclectic rock. ,Low Spark b has many odd structures, which become very prominent as the album progresses. I found myself loving the album despite its thorough lack of tracks.

Medieval sounding bard music slips in (much like Gentle Giant did) quite often. In the opening track 'Hidden Treasure', with soothing sounds that bring you sights of far off places and a subtle air of adventure. Although I found the track to be the only one I can't particularly listen to over again, mostly due to being so bland in light of the rest of its brethren. However, the track's slow tell-tale lyrics and minor progression is simply a lead into the eleven minute eponymous piece that is described as the center of the entire album. 'The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys' is a track that seems much shorter than it actually is, mostly due to it's enjoyable yet sometimes repetitive nature. But smooth jazz it is so I won't delve too deep into it.

One small, mostly unnoticeable problem I had with Low Spark was the seemingly indecisive way Traffic chose the structure of the tracks. With every song there is a different listen, aside from a small similarity between the title track's climax and the straight up rocker of 'Rock & Roll Stew', but even then the latter being much more aggressive takes away any prior similarities that you'd hear while scrolling through the tracks. In my opinion, a variegated line up of tracks qualifies as an album that never gives you a dull moment.

On the point of the rockier tracks, the most distinguished being 'Rock & Roll Stew' and 'Light Up Or Leave Me Alone'. Having never been a fan of soft rock pretending to be greater than it is, the former of the two I've found to enjoy much more often. 'Light Up', especially during the later parts however does bring to the table alot of Who-like rocking, but because of this seems like a song stuck in the 60's. Enjoyable, yes of course, but not something I come back to very often. 'Rock & Roll Stew', living up to it's name, brings a great deal of mixed rock soup including some excellent funk. Combine that with the great vocals from Winwood and you have quite the delicious stew!

The slower tracks that the album retains are 'Many a Mile to Freedom' and 'Rainmaker'. The former sort of takes elements from the rest of the album, combining 'Hidden Treasure'-like softness and the subtle yet quietened rocking of 'Rock & Roll Stew'. This makes up for quite an adventure, especially one that I can sit through for seven and a half minutes and not complain about. 'Rainmaker' is perhaps my favorite song off of the album, being the one that first appealed to me while scrolling through the tracks. It bears a haunting melody and lyrics of a farmer reminiscing of his crops' unfortunate fate from drought. The theme of the song most likely derives to the tale of John Barleycorn told in the prior album, but I feel like this song takes the cake for most complex and best-sounding.

In an overall sense, The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys is an album that goes very under appreciated in the world of the general music population, and unjustly so. If you haven't thoroughly heard or never heard this album at all, then I think you should find the vinyl and give it a spin. It is quite enjoyable. 4/5 rounded to 5.

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 John Barleycorn Must Die by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.89 | 262 ratings

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John Barleycorn Must Die
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Memo_anathemo

4 stars Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood and Chris Wood created with 'John Barleycorn Must Die' a jewel in the crown of music. An album full of excellent songs full of progressive folk rock, and jazz passages. 'Glad' seems to me a bit full of jazz and soul, with good use of saxophone. 'Freedom rider' is a different song with more folk and proto progressive elements. "I Just Want You To Know" is a short piece included in the remastered version, acceptable. 'Stranger to Himself' is a rock piece combined with a bit of rhythm and blues. The title track 'John Barleycorn' is a folk piece full of acoustic guitars and a blend of high pitch voice with a low pitch voice. The last song 'Every Mother's Son' also contains good rock and jazzy sound. To summarize, a very good album.

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 The Last Great Traffic Jam by TRAFFIC album cover DVD/Video, 2005
3.76 | 7 ratings

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The Last Great Traffic Jam
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by BORA

3 stars Jam of sorts.

I am relieved that this performance is very different to the album "Far From Home" both recorded in 1994. The latter being more of a Winwood solo effort where he was practically replicating Phil Collin's Pop-Disco diva approach.

Here, the band sounds more like Traffic, although with a bit of a twist. A staple diet of the usual tunes performed live is not surprising and rather typical of the band. It works quite well too, considering that there are only two founding members left.

Sadly, former sax player, Chris Wood is long gone and his exceptionally deep approach to his instruments - something that made the band really special - is sorely missed. Wood's replacement, Randall Bramblett does a credible job here without attempting to step into "Wood's place as a frontman.

Well, it's jamming, but of a different kind. In place of extended instrumental stretching out, it's more like a repetitive, rhythmic workout that goes on and on. Quite enjoyable, no doubt, but much closer to Santana-sty'e grooves than typical Traffic. To the point where one could be excused for mistaking it for a Santana band "filling time" approach. So, it's not really the form(less) jamming I'd prefer, but more of a loosely structured work with some solos thrown in. Still good.

The actual production as opposed to the music is disappointing, though. The nervous camera work that keeps jumping from one person to the other is absolutely annoying. Ditto for the interruptions between numbers that repeatedly interfere the flow of "traffic", but perhaps appropriate to the title "Traffic Jam"?

This is a performance I'd rather listen to than watch as it's presented on DVD. On any account, the 1972 "Santa Mobica" performance is more preferred.

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 The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.03 | 236 ratings

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The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Another heterogeneous grab-bag along the lines of John Barleycorn, the appeal of Traffic's The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys. Once again apparently unable to choose between folk-rock, proto-prog, psyche and straight ahead rock, and responding to this indecision by dithering around between the various genres they'd flirted with rather than coming up with a really interesting fusion with them. The stylistic gear change between the folky opener Hidden Treasure and the jazzy, mellow title track could give listeners whiplash. On top of that, given that it takes up 12 minutes of the album, the title track could really do with a bit of polishing - as it stands, it's a plodding, repetitive mess, with instrumental breaks which don't quite justify the tedium.

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 On The Road by TRAFFIC album cover Live, 1973
4.08 | 62 ratings

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On The Road
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by the philosopher

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 build to enhance the atmosphere and theme to suck you into it. Steve Winwood shows his very disciplined wah-wah guitar skills very often and Chris Wood on the saxes shows he can hold up the high level of discipline. The addition of an Afro American percussionist is another great find to enhance the jams.The keyboard player Barry Backet does not often take the lead, but is an excellent co-worker. There are no long drum or bass solo's, but I think that is fine, because those often become boring if listened for several times. This double live record gets its material from the previous three studio albums (John Barleycorn - Shoot out the Fantasy Factory) and has no overlap with the "Welcome to the Canteen" live recording.

Traffic on the Road starts with the excellent Glad and Freedom Rider to fill the first side. Although I get the idea that the sax theme sounds better on the John Barleycorn record and the vocals on Freedom Rider were also better on studio the overall feel is great and better then ever before. The long jams doesn't bore me for a minute; this is just what the band does best. While I'm not so fond of the "Low sparks of high heeled boys" record I must admit that on this live recording also this starts to live for me.

This record shows Traffic at its best. This is an excellent addition to a rock collection and a good place to start with Traffic's discography.

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