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Traffic Sound - Virgin CD (album) cover

VIRGIN

Traffic Sound

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.58 | 17 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars When I decide to include TRAFFIC SOUND in Prog Archives, I did it mostly because their third album and one song from this release called Meshkalina that became the anthem of Peruvian Psychedelia, but only after listening repeatedly "Virgin" I rediscovered the band and their evolution.

I used to think that in TRAFFIC SOUND was still developing their definitive sound when they released "Virgin", but I must admit I was wrong, of course it sounds totally different to their next release called Traffic Sound (Also known as III or Tibet's Suzettes) but not because of the less experience, but because times change and the sound also.

In 1969 Europe was witness of Progressive Rock's birth, but in South America and especially in Perú (because Rock was almost illegal due to a Military Nationalist dictator), we were one step behind. Psychedelia was something new, according to an ex hippy uncle who is my mentor in Peruvian Rock, the kids of the late 60's had just left behind the first British Invasion and still most of the people was enjoying early Beatles, so "Virgin" is an advance for our (then) limited reality.

If I had to describe "Virgin" in one phrase I would say it's a 100% Psychedelic album one step beyond most of the other bands of this forgotten part of the musical world.

While their third and considered best album is very electric and close to Progressive Rock, "Virgin" is mostly an unplugged with some electric fugues. In the third album the clear star of the band is Jean Pierre Magnet and his amazing sax, in this one Willy Barclay with the acoustic guitar and Willy Thorne's piano take the lead. In other words is softer, less complex but a very coherent teamwork.

The album starts with the title song "Virgin", very melodic but strong with interesting changes, a solid piano and percussion using Latin instruments such as congas, giving a very special and delicate sound very characteristic. Around the middle of the track they go one step beyond including an incredibly beautiful and almost classical piano solo that shows us how much more close than most South American bands they were to Prog.

Yellow Sea Days is also soft and unplugged (20 years before MTV had that idea), but in this case Jean Pierre Magnet with his sensual sax is simply perfect giving a Brazilian atmosphere very popular in Peru back in the late 60's, another 5 stars track.

Jews Caboose is weird with capital W, sounds like a Jewish prayer sung apparently in Yiddish, but it's really in English and played backwards. I can't understand why they decided to include it, not because it's bad, just because it's absolutely different to anything else in the album, probably a joke about the first rumours of satanic music messages hidden in rock songs, very interesting.

Simple is another beautiful ballad but this time much more electric with an outstanding guitar work by Billy Barclay and Freddy Rizo Patrón, the vocal work by Manuel Sanguinetti backed by Thorne, Barclay and Rizo Patrón is perfect for a track that flows gently from start to end.

Now it's time for big things, as I said before "Meshkalina" is a Peruvian classic, incredible 100% Progressive song with really great lyrics about how Yahuar Huaca (An Inca ruler) got high using a product called Ayahuasca (Meshkalina) provided by a witch or sorceress.

The whole band is outstanding and eclectic, including a jazzy touch by Jean Pierre Magnet, clearly the peak of the album.

"Virgin" ends with "Last Song" a delightful track totally played by Willy Barclay, very close to classical guitar, reminds me of one of those Steve Howe's solos, but of course done a couple years before The Yes Album.

The rest of the songs are in the same line, late Psychedelia, early proto Prog' with a unique Latin sound.

Now the problem is how to rate it, because I gave 5 stars to III being that I consider it their most developed album, but "Virgin" is outstanding from a psychedelic point of view and shouldn't deserve a lower rating, but this is a Prog site and from this perspective I will give 4 very solid stars.

Every Prog' fan should own this album; there's no excuse to avoid it, not even for USA and UK progheads because all the lyrics (except Jews Caboose) are in perfect English. If you can't find it, there are two very good compilations available on any web store that could be a good substitute.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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