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Traffic - Far From Home CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.91 | 65 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The end of the line ("This train won't stop")

In 1994, founding members Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi reunited under the name of Traffic. Chris Wood had sadly passed away over 10 years previously, and Dave Mason was not invited (and probably would not have been interested anyway). Both Winwood and Capaldi had enjoyed a measure of solo success, with Winwood in particular having briefly flirted with superstardom through a series of dance friendly singles.

"Far from home" though, while bearing the clear trademarks of Winwood's solo work, also draws upon the influences which could be found on Traffic's releases through the years. Winwood is of course the dominant partner, playing virtually all the instruments with the exception of the percussion, and providing all the lead vocals. With the significant passing of time between the 1974 album "When the eagle flies" and this 1994 release, there is inevitably a noticeable maturing of sound and style here. For one thing, Winwood has long since discovered and exploited synthesisers. His familiar organ tones can still be heard, but they can be overlaid with the rhythmic sounds of synths, such as on the opening "Riding high".

It is hard to place this album among the myriad of styles covered by Traffic. It is certainly far more accessible than the band's jazz orientated work around the time of "Low spark.." and "Shootout..", but I hesitate to place it alongside their early Dave Mason driven pop songs. Perhaps the closest album in terms of style is "John Barleycorn..", although even here, the folk influences are largely absent now.

"Here comes the man" features a fine vocal performance by Winwood, along the lines of that on "Every mother's son". The track lacks the fine lengthy instrumental break of that song, but does nevertheless feature the familiar organ sound. The 8½ minute title track is the longest on the album. It takes us closer to the relaxed "Low spark of high healed boys" style, while remaining tight and rhythmic. The track features some striking guitar work by Winwood.

The standout track for me is "Holy Ground", an atmospheric Celtic influenced piece of pure magic. Winwood's voice never sounded better than it does here, the Uilleann pipes of Davy Spillane (who receives a composition credit) complementing his tones superbly.

The sequence of tracks from "Some kinda woman" through "Every night, every day" to "This train won't stop" could have been lifted directly from one of Winwood's solo albums. They are adequate if unexciting pop/funk/rock numbers with synth rhythms. The next track of note is the delicate ballad "State of grace". The song features some fine traditional organ sounds, with Winwood delivering the sort of composition which, for my money, suits his voice best. The acoustic guitar solo sounds a little contrived on the track, my preference would have been for the organ work to have been developed further, but a wonderful song anyway.

The album closes with "Mozambique", the last song to ever grace a Traffic album. In true Traffic tradition, this instrumental is something of a surprise, sounding more like an outtake from a Santana album than a Traffic original. Anyone who remembers the obscure hit single "Sultana" by Titanic will know what to expect here.

History now records that this was the last album of original material to bear the Traffic name. A further planned recording by Winwood and Capaldi in 2004 was aborted when the later was diagnosed with cancer, and sadly he passed away the following year. Both he and Winwood can be proud that they created a fine epitaph for a great band.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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