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Traffic - Live at Santa Monica  CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.77 | 11 ratings

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3 stars When concerts mattered

I'm pretty cynical about the state of modern live performance, where completely scripted shows and completely scripted fans court each other in the dance of predetermined expectation. To find authentic improvisation, surprises, and the spirit of music which comes from a loose set list and true immediacy, you must look well below the arena level these days. It wasn't always like that. Back in the "good old days" (I can feel the eyes rolling from the younger guys) bands at the arena level were capable of a true concert experience. Then the quality of the show was not determined necessarily by planning and professionalism, but by the moods of the members that particular day and perhaps what chemicals they had recently ingested. Whether this is good or bad for art is a personal judgment. I'll take the classic era concert experience over today's scripted one any day of the week.

This period show from Santa Monica, CA, captures the classic Traffic line-up in a ceremonious mood, and sees them delivering many favorites of the fans: Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, Dear Mr. Fantasy, John Barleycorn, Light Up, and Rainmaker. While Traffic were never a visual astonishment to view in the way The Who or Zeppelin were, they made up for it by providing a very atmospheric and narcotic listening experience. Like the Grateful Dead there are tasteful longer jams, and with Traffic come jazzy and prog-folk flavors, and lovely improvisations while still holding the melody and base of the album track together for the fan. In other words, they don't trash the studio cut in their live presentation. Steve Winwood steals the show in my opinion with his understated but nearly perfect vocals and piano. Chris Woods delivers solid saxophone and flute work. The video is very professionally shot with good clarity and great coverage of the members through close-ups and many different angles. Of course it looks tame by today's standards of lightning fast edits and light shows, but in reality this kind of presentation is preferable to those wishing to see the music created, as opposed to simply head-banging. There are some minimally psych-trippy special effects but thankfully they are kept short. The sound quality is decent for the period, but again, don't expect today's standard. Without question this is treasured document for fans of Traffic, to have a quality concert experience from their prime. Not to be missed. For me personally, three stars, as I'm not a huge fan of this band. I appreciate it, but I don't love it. Those who do will surely rate this 4-5 stars.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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