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Traffic - Last Exit CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

2.73 | 87 ratings

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2 stars I think this album gets too much credit from fans too often. The story was a typical one at the time: label is pressing for another record; the band lineup is in somewhat of a shambles due to personalities, drugs, egos - whatever; the creative force of the group is waning; and there is little to no time to record thanks to incessant touring. The solution? An album that combines previously-released material and live tracks with an ominous- sounding title that may have been intended to give the impression the band was on the outs (which in fact they were), although there is little evidence Island Records wanted to publicly disclose this information at the time.

Despite his name in the liner notes Dave Mason was no longer in the band and did not take any active part in the record's release. The opening "Just for You" is a Mason tune but one that he had recorded earlier as part of a solo release but which also included Capaldi, Woods and Winwood in supporting roles. Ironically while Capaldi and Winwood had pushed Mason out of the group the year prior due to their dislike for his more pop/psych leaning, folksy music, this song has the closest sound to what the band had released on their first two studio records.

The next two tracks are bluesy with slight jazz percussion tinges and extended flute/organ passages from Woods and Winwood. "Shanghai Noodle Factory" is basically a light, jazzy and probably improvised tune, while "Something's got a Hold of my Toe" is an instrumental co-credited to Mason and Winwood (the only such co-written song I'm aware of) that also smacks of an improvised studio jam session and doesn't really sound like Mason played on it at all.

"Withering Tree" is another previously released track that features a slightly gauche tempo and piano from Winwood that seems a bit hesitant at times. This was probably a track recorded around the time of their second release and left off that album (but was released as a b-side to the Dave Mason single "Feelin' Alright" after he'd left the group for the second time). "Medicated Goo" was released as a single along with "Shanghai Noodle Factory". This is basically a forgettable bluesy jam aside from a decent saxophone bit from Woods, has been covered quite a few times over the years by b-list blues-rock bands and became a touring staple of former American Idol Taylor Hicks.

The backside of the record includes two live tracks from a Fillmore West concert set (also without Mason). The first is a cover of the mid-sixties Anthony Newley standard "Feelin' Good" which has been covered ad infinitum by just about everyone in the music business from Nina Simone to Muse. This version includes a lot of brooding organ (presumably by Chris Woods), along with dissonant saxophone passages also from Woods. The sound quality could be better although this does appear to be a soundboard recording, and the ten-minute meandering length makes me think the band (and probably the audience) were tweaking on something when it was played.

Finally the album winds up with another live track from the same Fillmore West concert, this one also a cover ("Blind Man") written by R&B icon Deadric Malone who was running the black blues label Duke Records at the time. It's a natural live concert song but an odd choice for a band like Traffic, and certainly not something they would have included in a studio album especially had Mason still been with the band.

This is a record label release, not something the band was heavily engaged in creating or supporting. The intent of the record was to capitalize on the band's fame at the time and to put something onto record shelves while the group was in the process of breaking up but still owed the label more product. For these reasons I can't say it rates any higher than a fan collector-only piece, and therefore doesn't deserve more than two out of five stars. Not really recommended unless you come across an original vinyl, and even then only for its collectable value and not for the worth of the music.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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