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Traffic - Mr. Fantasy CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.62 | 174 ratings

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Moogtron III
Prog Reviewer
4 stars More psychedelic than progressive, but a great album nevertheless, because of its variety, and because there are some good songs on it as well (most notably by Steve Winwood). This is a classic psychedelically tinged pop / rock album, with elements of folk and jazz. Saxophonist / flautist Chris Wood is for a large part responbible for the original Traffic sound, because of his very original way of playing his instruments. Winwood's keyboard playing and soulful vocals, the use of echo and the (Mr.) fantasy lyrics do the rest.

I see that there are different versions of the album: a UK and a US version. I myself am familiar with the UK version. I see that the US version includes the first Traffic hit singles, like Steve Winwood's song Paper Sun, and Dave Mason's song A Hole In My Shoe. Nice hippie time hit singles: the use of the sitar and the dreamy lyrics show that it was 1967, and that the times they were a-changin'. Yes, the hit singles, which were the calling card for the group, were good, even though the rest of the band thought that Mason's song A Hole In My Shoe wasn't representative for Traffic, because of it being too poppy. Well, it's poppy, no doubt, but it's well written, like all of the early hit singles, including Smiling Phases.

The album itself, as showcased by the (original) UK recording: the highlights are Winwood's songs Dear Mr. Fantasy; No Face, No Name, No Number; and Coloured Rain. The Dave Mason songs couldn't stand the test of time. A House For Everyone is still cosy and has some creative sound effects, but Utterly Simple has cheesy lyrics and the use of sitar is only very funny and nothing more. Heaven Is In Your Mind and Berkshire Poppies are nice, charming songs. The latter has a (vocal) guest appearance of the Small Faces (sounding drunk or under the influence of... something to smoke).

The balance: three very good Winwood compositions, a few other charming songs and some songs that are not very well composed, but that let you experience a bit of the spirit of the times. So why do I give it four stars? Even if only half the album is good as it comes to compositions, it is an album full of creativity, of music that is so full of colours and shades, that you seldomly see the shortcomings. And the sleeve design is one of the best I ever saw. Yes, this is really an excellent addition to any prog music collection, even when it's not prog in the strict sense of the word. Very creative, enjoyable music, like a house with many corners to spend some happy hours.

Moogtron III | 4/5 |


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