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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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TRAFFIC Videos (YouTube and more)


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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)

3.62 | 212 ratings
Mr. Fantasy
1967
3.41 | 62 ratings
Heaven Is In Your Mind
1968
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Spencer Davis Group and Traffic: Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1968
3.43 | 163 ratings
Traffic
1968
2.76 | 98 ratings
Last Exit
1969
3.94 | 399 ratings
John Barleycorn Must Die
1970
4.12 | 380 ratings
The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
1971
3.68 | 209 ratings
Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory
1973
3.26 | 139 ratings
When The Eagle Flies
1974
2.91 | 65 ratings
Far From Home
1994

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

3.43 | 75 ratings
Welcome to the Canteen
1971
4.10 | 92 ratings
On The Road
1973

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

3.78 | 12 ratings
Live at Santa Monica
1991
3.79 | 10 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 | 15 ratings
Smiling Phases
1991
3.92 | 5 ratings
Heaven Is In Your Mind. An Introduction To Traffic
1998
4.00 | 5 ratings
Feelin' Alright: The Very Best of Traffic
2000
3.44 | 6 ratings
The Collection
2002
2.38 | 4 ratings
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Traffic
2003
4.23 | 13 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
 The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 380 ratings

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The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Boi_da_boi_124

5 stars Review #139!

The fquacking best English jazz-rock album ever! So very good, from beginning to end. The title track is one of my all-time favorite songs, and every others ongoing is just as wonderful! Magical, my favorite Traffic, followed closely by 'Shootout..'. So awe-inspiring, so delicate yet hard-rocking, so wonderful, so groovy, so "every pleasant emotion that the human can experience"! This album is so eclectic in styles, moods, and lyrics, jumping from fun Latin flavor undertones to somber and beautiful. While songs like 'Rock and Roll Stew' are just lovely and light-hearted, the title track is pure jazz-prog madness! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Prog on!

 The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 380 ratings

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The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The classic world of progressive rock was a time of innovation. I believe 1973-1975 to be where the genre really hit its stride, with the usual big 5 bands of ELP, Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and Yes innovating the genre's engines for groups in the future to use in their own ways. However, the early EARLY days of the genre, say 1967- 1971, was a time of exploration, setting sail to new horizons that'd be mastered over the decades. Many bands got their foot into the door during this time, namely the big 5 I commented on, as well as Gentle Giant, Magma, Caravan, and today's subject, Traffic.

Whilst finding fame with The Spencer Davis Group, Steve Winwood and Chris Wood was discontent with their musical output within the group, and wanted to find more of a footing with a full fledged band. That is when they decided to leave The Spencer Davis Group, and form Traffic, with Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason. Over the years, the band has created music, from psychedelic rock, to the early stylings of progressive rock. The band would find their footing in the industry with John Barleycorn Must Die, which was at a point when the band was going into a more progressive rock outlook, as opposed to the late 60s psychedelia. While the success of John Barleycorn was great for the band commercially, it certainly made them more aware of the music industry and the troubles of being a part of it, and thus, that is where the boys in high heels come in.

Admittedly, this is the only Traffic album I have listened to, so I cannot quite compare it to other records from their discography. However, first impressions with the band for this record are very positive. It took me quite a bit to kinda get this record, but what Traffic delivers on here is a very great deal.

The record is a charming, but quite bitter sounding ordeal, with instrumentation that feels like a smooth combination of Chicago-esque jazz rock with a pastoral prog sound that groups like Genesis and Mike Oldfield were enjoying. It is certainly a surprising, but very enjoyable combination of sounds for me, especially with the title track and Rainmaker. I also noticed a bit of appreciation towards more 60s style psych pop, with the shorter tracks of Light Up Or Leave Me Alone and Many A Mile To Freedom, which give this already flavorful experience into one bursting with colors.

I also quite like the lyricism on here. While I am not one who cares much for lyrics, the poetry on these tracks hold a special kind of magic that rivals that of Pink Floyd's Animals, with lyrics describing the toxic music industry with the uses of boys in high heels as their flamboyancy dies out, or with the stress of being a rock star going back and forth from country to country. It is like Wish You Were Here, but from a jazzy prog rock lens. While the album isn't the first to bash the industry, they really take charge at it, and it certainly creates for a truly progressive experience to the ears.

I kinda have only one problem with this record and that is it feels a bit top heavy, with the A side feeling a lot better than the B side. Though, admittedly, this is a minor inconvenience, since even the B side has some really great tracks. Though, again, it does leave this album slightly disjointed, and compared to stuff like the title track and Hidden Treasure, the B side certainly does feel a little weak in comparison. Who knows, maybe I will warm up to the B side and this album will change into a masterpiece in my eyes.

A fun record to be sure. Certainly gets me interested in whatever Traffic has to offer. Recommend this one to those who are looking into the classic time period of prog rock, as it is an excellent record to listen to, especially on a rainy Sunday morning.

 Mr. Fantasy by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.62 | 212 ratings

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Mr. Fantasy
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Prog Network

3 stars Traffic's "Mr. Fantasy" is an impressive debut album that showcases the band's eclectic and innovative musical style early into their career. From start to finish each track feels unique, with intricate instrumentation and captivating melodies that keep the listener engaged. The band's musical talent is also evident throughout, with impressive guitar work and tight rhythms that create a sense of unity and cohesiveness. "Mr. Fantasy" is not only a testament to Traffic's musical prowess but also a reflection of their creative vision and willingness to push boundaries. The album's production is crisp and polished when compared to other albums being released at the time, enhancing the overall listening experience. With its diverse range of musical influences and captivating performances, "Mr. Fantasy" is a must-listen for fans of psychedelic rock, progressive rock, and those seeking an interesting musical journey.
 John Barleycorn Must Die by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.94 | 399 ratings

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John Barleycorn Must Die
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by AJ Junior

5 stars After a short period of disbandment, Traffic came back with the monster release "Jonh Barleycorn Must Die" inspired by the ancient Irish folk tale/folk song. In my opinion, this album is Traffics' masterpiece even topping the prior "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys." This is an all-time prog, folk, and blues classic and deserves more attention from prog fans. It is often dismissed as a folk album but it is just as much prog as it is folk thanks to Steve Winwood's intoxicating keys.

The album opens with "Glad" one of the best tracks on the album right from the start. A lot of awesome organ and piano work from Winwood here, which is a common theme in the rest of the songs. The last two minutes of the song turn to a minor tone ending it off on the perfect note just to go into "Freedom Rider," my personal favorite song on the album. With a sax riff and thumping bass line, the song begins, with Winwood's impeccable voice joining it soon. The song features some incredible flute work from Chris Wood that goes well with the organ and piano that end the song in a grandiose fashion.

"Empty Pages" is a more classic Traffic tune that Winwood wrote. It is a very funky/bluesy song, even including a nice "Doors-esque" electric piano solo that sounds like it could be straight off of LA Woman. "Stranger to Himself" was originally intended for Winwood's solo project that became JBMD, and is a good song as well. Very strong folksy guitar tied together with Winwoods' powerful vocals and Jim Capaldi's unique percussive undertones. It ends with a nice electric guitar solo.

The title track "John Barleycorn (Must Die)" is one of the greatest folk performances of all time, and is a highlight on the album. The guitar work goes perfectly with Winwood's solemn vocals and Chris Woods' flute licks. Great song and would've been better as a closer, but they decided to make "Every Mother's Son" the closer. It was another song that was initially written for Steve Winwood's solo album. I like the idea of the song a lot and it even has a great organ solo in the middle, but I feel like it drags a bit and doesn't end the album with enough clarity (although it is by no means a bad song).

At the end of the day, this album is a folk-prog classic, up there with the likes of Jethro Tull and the other folk-prog greats. By far Traffic's best album and Steve Winwood's magnum opus. Highly recommended to all prog listeners, and is very accessible to even non-prog listeners.

 Mr. Fantasy by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.62 | 212 ratings

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Mr. Fantasy
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Mortte

5 stars It is very rare these days music artist put out masterpiece and itīs best album as the first release. But it wasnīt in the 60/70ties, with Traffic also for example Family, King Crimson, Dr. John, Magma, Caravan and Comus did that! Also I think Pink Floyd, Wigwam, Faust, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, Amon Düül II released masterpieces as their first album, although not their best albums. Those were the years when came a huge amount of great music! Of course Traffic members werenīt beginners, Steve Winwood had been in very successful Spencer Davis Group, other members had also earlier bands, but not as known. Anyway Traffic got success in the UK from the beginning and later also in the US. I believe when Winwood, Mason and Wood jammed together with Jimi Hendrix would not decrease their popularity.

Album starts with gently beats in "Heaven In Your Mind" that is Winwood, Capaldi and Wood composition. Soon comes really melodic vocals from Winwood & Capaldi. Chorus words "guiding your visions to heaven and heaven is in your mind" could not descripe this terrific opener better! In "Berkshire Poppies" mood changes fully: it starts with clumsy waltz, that soon goes into unbridled momentum! Musically very funny piece, but lyrics seem to be quite serious telling that time typical story of escaping the system. Next "House For Everyone" is absolutely one of Masonīs best songs! Starting as somebody is putting music box on you can easily imagine some mechanical dancer beginning to rotate. Very great melodies in this too! "No Face, No Name and No Number" is the most beautiful ballad piece from Capaldi & Winwood in this album. Next "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is the most known song from this album, but I think itīs weakest after "Giving To You". Of course itīs good rocker with great guitar solo from Steve, but really not give a right picture of the album

But in the vinyl B-side greatness continues: "Dealer" is again very melodic piece from Capaldi. Next "Utterly Simple" is again Mason track and the most psychedelic song in this album, where Mason even plays sitar. Direction changes more rock into "Coloured Rain" that has again great vocals from Steve and very intensive solo part. Masonīs last song "Hope I Never Find Me There" is again very melodic and almost as great as "House For Everyone". "Giving To You" is very cheerful jam-piece and ends this awesome album just so well!

I believe this is not five star album to puritan prog lister, but to me who love terrific psych rock as much as great prog this really is!! Somehow I had to listen this many times before I understood itīs genius! Really this isnīt the most trippy psychedelic album, itīs more full of great melodies and really awesome singing and playing! To me all three first Traffic albums and "Low Spark Of the High Heeled Boys" are masterpieces (yes, even Last Exit, I really love also itīs B-side), but all their other seventies albums are four stars albums. So you can thing this band is so dear to me! One reason why I love so much those three first album is Mason, who also composed very great songs, later I think Winwood and Capaldi didnīt have enough ideas. The other story is their nineties comeback album "Far From Home", I have listened it maybe twice and what I remembered, it really hasnīt got that warmth as their old material. Traffic was very succesfull in itīs time, but these days to me it seems itīs little bit forgotten comparing other great bands of those days. I really hope young people, who have found splendor of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Doors, Cream, the Who etc. will also find this band, because it is as terrific!

 On The Road by TRAFFIC album cover Live, 1973
4.10 | 92 ratings

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On The Road
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by A_Beloucif

4 stars "On The Road" is the second live album by "Traffic", recorded in Germany, and released in 1973 following their studio album "Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory", it features American session musicians of "The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section" keyboardist Barry Beckett, bassist David Hood, and drummer Roger Hawkins. Side one, taken up by the first track "Glad /Freedom rider", the first two pieces of "John Barleycorn Must Die" joined in one 21 minutes long epic, and honestly, the vocals there start weak. Side two holds picks from the previous release "Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory", the instrumental "Tragic Magic" and "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired", with the title track "Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory" on side three, it's a stretched version humdrum, with no attempt of improvement to the already-drab studio version of tracks, (Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory it's a good mediocre album for me, not bad). After there are picks from "The low Sparks of High Heeled Boys", with "Light up or Leave Me Alone" on side three, and the eponymous track "The Low Sparks Of High Heeled Boys" occupying the fourth side, I think this is where energy kicks in, particularly in vocals. "On The Road" holds a nice choice of songs, and good instrumentation, from my favorite albums, with good quality, clear sound, good performance, and production, I like Barry Beckett's work on piano and organ, especially on "Glad /Freedom Rider" and "The Low Sparks of High Heeled Boys", and also Chris wood's work on saxophone and flute, I also like the simplistic, colorful sleeve. As a live album, it's fine
 Far From Home by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1994
2.91 | 65 ratings

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Far From Home
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by DangHeck
Prog Reviewer

1 stars Not sure what album y'all were listening to...

Despite being curious what in the hell Traffic were doing literally (exactly) 20 years after their last, When the Eagle Flies (1974), I decided to go in on this blind. An hour-long excursion into some oldheads' latterday expressions, with at best mixed (yet fairly positive) reviews, this only does so much to excite a guy... Traffic, as band, is now strictly Winwood and Capaldi. Certainly wouldn't have suggested that they needed much else, given that simple roster. [Oof.]

And here we are! The '90s! Hahahaha!!! This starts off with "Riding High", very much that commercial Winwood thing... You know what I'm talking about. Well performed, but cheesy as hell. This feels like the albums' legacy (now that I've finished listening).

With the Traffic designation, not too surprised what I'm hearing. "Here Comes A Man" is a sort of classic RnB-inflected track. Unsurprisingly, it's well done. What else can (or should) be said? Perhaps this: Steve is pulling all the strings on this one (organ, guitar and flute!). So, really at best, we get well-performed, long-form RnB-inflected Prog-lite/AOR jams. I'm not mad at it (see the track "Far From Home")... But...

"Holy Ground" was... just bad... and... what followed uhhhh... Thank God for the final track to at least pick things back up. I guess. [I'm fairly confident that there is no reason for this album to exist.]

True Rate: 1.5/5.0

 Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.68 | 209 ratings

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Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Beautiful Scarlet

3 stars Traffic, a very 70s band with very 70s vocals unloads on Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory a barrage of lengthy rock accompanied by ethnic percussion

Track 1, Shootout At The Fantasy Factory kicks off right away with the song. There are instrumental breaks that go on for quite some time, stretching the song to an unnecessary duration.

Next up is Roll Right Stones which begins much calmer, doo doos and piano. That's pretty much all there is to this 12~ minute long song, unbelievable.

Evening Blue starts with acoustic guitar that is joined by vocals and in due time the rest of the band. There's a saxophone bridge, it's okay.

Tragic Magic opens with Reebops percussion which has keyboards/bass join the rhythm as Saxophone takes lead. I find this song is also to long but it's definitely a better song then the preceding numbers, mayhap I dislike the singer? Anyways, Tragic Magic is solid fusion.

Sometimes (I Feel So Uninspired) starts right away with singing and subdued drums that are joined by piano, saxophone and bass. The vocals are less rock, more r&b it's nice although it's quite stretched.

Overall this album is pretty much a clone of the previous album and every song sounds the same for its entire length, very boring considering how long the songs are, way to much repetition.

 Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.68 | 209 ratings

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Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This was pretty much the first time a Traffic album had sounded much like the previous Traffic album - it's even got a very similar cover conceit - but alas, this second incarnation of the band was already losing steam. The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys had a similar style of jazz-tinged, smoothly delivered light prog, but that had hooks in it which remain fresh in the memory long after the album's done; Shoot Out is pleasant to listen to at the time, but lacks the same staying power.

Roll Right Stones is a similar attempt at a long song with regular repeated refrains as the title song from Low Spark, but there's diminishing returns at play here; the instrumental Tragic Magic has some fun contributions from Chris Wood which help things a little, but the obvious joke about the title of closing number Sometimes I Feel So Uninspired really rings true: even Steve's singing feels unenthusiastic about proceedings. It's not a terrible album - I won't skip any of the songs if they come up on shuffle - but it's not a memorable album.

 Traffic by TRAFFIC album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.43 | 163 ratings

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Traffic
Traffic Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Traffic's second album finds them appreciably tightening things up compared to the rather more rough and ready Mr. Fantasy. The production values are notably better, the songwriting is more disciplined, and the band don't seem to be falling over themselves to prove their psychedelic credentials. What emerges here is technically proficient folk-tinged, blues-tinged rock music which hasn't yet hit the extended jamming of later albums but which is a reasonably entertaining listen in its own right, as well as pointing the way to more ambitious works to come. The overall effect is like a soft rock counterpart to early Led Zeppelin circa Led Zeppelin III, since they are working on waving similar influences into rock music but coming from a smoother, gentler, more pop-based foundation.
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