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Traffic - Last Exit CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.73 | 87 ratings

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2 stars They were all guilty of being a little quick on the trigger when they decided to call this "Last Exit" because there would be many more Traffic albums to come before it was all over. But at the time things looked pretty hopeless and the record label, in an attempt to recoup some of the funds they had invested in the band, emptied the vault and assembled enough recordings to call it an album. There's not even a list of musicians to accompany the photos on the original LP cover, just a note that it was produced by Jimmy Miller and the Traffic logo with one of its sides breaking away. Surprisingly, though, there are a few really good songs included.

Dave Mason's "Just For You" could easily pass for a Moody Blues song from the same era with its tablas and Indian styled orchestration but it's nothing to write home about. "Shanghai Noodle Factory," on the other hand, is a rockin' R&B number that I've always enjoyed. It's got an interesting mix of acoustic guitar, organ and flute layered on top of drummer Jim Capaldi's steady groove. Steve Winwood delivers his usual great vocals (not just here but on every song) and the extended interplay between the guitar and flute is excellent. "Something's Got a Hold of My Toe" is no more than an uninspired electric guitar-driven jam that would never have seen the light of day if they hadn't been scraping for filler. "Withering Tree" is a Winwood/Capaldi tune dominated by the piano that lyric-wise could be an allegory for the group's sad status. It shifts between a waltz and a straight 4/4 but it, too, is quite forgettable. "Medicated Goo" is funky fun and a highlight of the record. Chris Wood's punchy saxophone lines help to drive the song and the guitar leads are tastefully done. The tight, soulful harmony vocals are a treat. The last two tunes were recorded live at the Fillmore West with just Steve, Jim and Chris alone on stage (Winwood supplies the bass on the pedals). "Feelin' Good" is actually an adaptation of a song from a Broadway musical that I guess seemed appropriate as far as looking ahead with the chorus of "It's a new dawn/it's a new day/it's a new life for me/and I'm feelin' good." Despite Wood playing some well-intentioned sax licks and Winwood knocking out a piercing organ solo you can tell they were doing their best to just get through the gig. "Blind Man" has a blues feel to it and they manage to throw in enough twists and accents to keep it interesting but you can tell by the audience's half-hearted response that they weren't getting what they had shown up to hear.

It's hard to recommend this to anyone but a true Traffic aficionado even though it has two of their best songs from the Dave Mason years. At least it didn't tarnish their legacy completely and, as we all know, they eventually reformed further down the road and more than made up for "Last Exit" by creating some truly memorable albums.

Chicapah | 2/5 |


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