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Traffic Mr. Fantasy album cover
3.62 | 212 ratings | 23 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1967

Songs / Tracks Listing

Original UK version (US version see under "Heaven Is In Your Mind" entry)
1. Heaven Is in Your Mind (4:16)
2. Berkshire Poppies (2:55)
3. House for Everyone (2:05)
4. No Face, No Name, No Number (3:35)
5. Dear Mr. Fantasy (5:44)
6. Dealer (3:34)
7. Utterly Simple (3:16)
8. Coloured Rain (2:43)
9. Hope I Never Find Me There (2:12)
10. Giving to You (4:20)

Total time 34:40

Bonus Mono Tracks on Island 1999 Remaster:
11. Paper Sun (3:26)
12. Dealer (3:13)
13. Coloured Rain (2:46)
14. Hole in My Shoe (3:04)
15. No Face, No Name, No Number (3:38)
16. Heaven Is in Your Mind (4:22)
17. House for Everyone (2:05)
18. Berkshire Poppies (2:59)
19. Giving to You (4:18)
20. Smiling Phases (2:44)
21. Dear Mr. Fantasy (5:33)
22. We're a Fade, You Missed This (0:53)

Total time 67:47

Bonus Tracks on 2000 Island remaster:
11. Paper Sun (4:15)
12. Giving to You (UK mono single version) (4:12)
13. Hole in My Shoe (2:54)
14. Smiling Phases (2:43)
15. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (single version) (2:18)

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Winwood / lead vocals (1,2,4-6,8), organ, piano, harpsichord, guitar, bass, percussion, arrangements
- Dave Mason / guitar, sitar (7), tamboura, shakkai (??), Mellotron, bass (5,6), harmonica, percussion, lead vocals (3,7,9)
- Chris Wood / flute, saxophone, organ, percussion, backing vocals
- Jim Capaldi / drums, percussion, lead vocals (1,6)

- Jimmy Miller / maracas (5), producer
- Steve Marriott / backing vocals & percussion (2)
- Ronnie Lane / backing vocals & percussion (2)
- Ian McLagan / backing vocals & percussion (2)
- Kenney Jones / backing vocals & percussion (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Chris Wood & CCS Advertising (design) with John Benton Harris (photo)

LP Island Records - ILP 961 (1967, UK) Mono
LP Island Records - ILPS 9061 (1967, UK) Stereo
LP Fontana ‎- 885 435 TY (1968, Germany) Different cover and title ("Hole In My Shoe")
LP United Artists Records ‎- UAS 6651 (1968, US) Different track-list, cover and title ("Heaven Is...")

CD Island Records ‎- 90060-2 (1988, US)
CD Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab ‎- UDCD 572 (1993, US) Remastered
CD Island Remasters - IMCD 264 (1999, Europe) Remastered to 24-bit and including full US-version Mono album "Heaven Is In Your Mind" as bonus tracks (12).
CD Island Records ‎- 314 542 823-2 (2000, US) Mono reissue w/ 5 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy TRAFFIC Mr. Fantasy Music

TRAFFIC Mr. Fantasy ratings distribution

(212 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

TRAFFIC Mr. Fantasy reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane

(first of a serie of ten)

However one may feel about this group and prog , these guys were very gifted players, inventive writers , had many break-ups and re-formations in the prog mode (they wrote the book and Yes were merely followers), and their overall discography holds enough lenghty and innovative interplay to be easily considered as prog.

Traffic started out as a psychadelic group (as did Procol Harum , The Nice , Caravan , Soft Machine and many more) so you will find here mostly short psych songs full of weird but very innovative ideas and eastern sounds. One must remember that groups back in 67 were not really given the artistic freedom of later groups just a mere two years later. Traffic were also releasing many non-album singles and the bonus tracks on this album are mostly just that - A-choice stuff and no third-choice-bottom-of-the-drawer alternate tracks. Giving to you , Paper Sun & Hole In My Shoe are pure delights.

Progheads will find heaven in the title track and Dealer , where the musicians are given space to expand and have the room for it (in terms of track lenght), and announces many great things to come. The only thing I can unfortunately denounce here is the lack of a proper bassist.

Although technically speaking this album should not have that fourth star (ideally 3,5 *) , the historical importance of such an album is all too sadly forgotten , so this might be my way of setting the record straight. MUCH RECOMMENDED but be aware that some of those tracks have not aged that well and might shock the younger progheads much like when I listen to 1930 jazz records.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars In my opinion, the 60s was a great decade, but particularly 1967 was a very good year for Rock music. Very good albums were released that year, many of them in the Psychedelic style. This first Traffic album is very good, and sometimes funny due to Psychedelia. It is not a perfect album. I think that many albums from the sixties have not corrected mistakes done by the musicians during the recording of the songs, and many groups were very good more by their energy and joy to play the music than for their technical skills playing their instruments. This is an example of this kind of albums. I think that a Producer like the late Jimmy Miller was of the kind of producers who gave a lot of freedom to the bands. Miller, was, IMO, like "a George Martin" for many bands like Traffic, Blind Faith, the Roling Stones, and others. So, this album has a lot of freedom, creativity, great songs, joy and fun. I forgive the mistakes because the songs are very good and the songs were recorded with good energy and feeling. Traffic, like The Doors, was, IMO, an atypical band, because they also lacked a full time bassist. So, Steve Winwood and Dave Mason shared the bass guitar parts, and Winwood sometimes also played the bass pedals of his organ. The songs: "Heaven is in your mind" is one example of a good song played with energy and with some out of tune vocals and mistakes in the bass guitar parts."Berkshire Poppies" it`s a funny song, maybe influenced by the use of some substances! It has a piano which sounds out of tune, really."House for Everyone" is a very psychedelic song by Dave Mason. "No Face, No Name and No Number", is, IMO, one of the best songs from this album, maybe the most Progressive in sound, due to the use of the Mellotron and Harpsichord , and with a "dreamy atmosphere" and surrealistic lyrics.The song "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is heavy,with lead guitars and very good drums. The origin of this song, as I read in an interview done with Jim Capaldi in his official website, was a poem written by him one night. He says that he left the poem in a table in the cottage where Traffic were living in Berkshire. The next morning, the poem was read by Steve Winwood and Chris Wood. They liked the poem, so they composed music for this poem. When Capaldi awoke, he found that the "Mr. Fantasy" poem had music! Capaldi also says that the cover designed by Chris Wood is related to the lyrics of this song."Dealer" is a song composed by Capaldi alone.It has an acoustic guitar arrangement which sounds a bit for me with influences from Spanish and Mexican traditional music, with the use of Latin percussion instruments.Maybe the lyrics are about a drug dealer. "Utterly Simple" is a song composed by Dave Mason, with Sitar and Indian percussion instruments, maybe influenced by George Harrison and Brian Jones, who sometimes also used the Sitar in their respective bands. "Coloured Rain" is one of the best songs from this album, with Winwood playing the bass pedals of his organ."Hope I Never Find Me There" is another good song composed by Dave Mason."Giving to You" is a "mad" instrumental piece, with some jazz influences, strange voices and some improvisation. IMO, it seems that from the start Traffic was divided. Most of the songs in this album were composed by Winwood, Capaldi and Wood. Mason composed alone three songs. The only song composed by the whole band is "Giving to You". Mason left Traffic several times and he also returned several times between 1967 and 1968. Traffic sometimes toured as a trio without him. In 1971, he returned to play with them (as guest) for the last time for some concerts in 1971. Some recordings from these concerts appeared in the "Welcome to the Canteen" live album.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yes I am also very happy Traffic have found their way to the prog rock site. This their debut, can you believe it is almost 40 years old ( one decade off half a century).Yikes I feel old already.

It is a very good beginning for this psychedilic trippy rock band that orginated from sunny Birmingham. Steve Winwood, the late Jim Capaldi just two of the basic ingredients in taking this band on to bigger and better things.' Dear Mr. Fantasy' definitely the highlight on this album but I also like 'No face, no name, no number'. Recommended as a good start to the Traffic reportoire.

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Historically this album is a little classic if you consider that it belongs to the first ones which include eastern influences in popular music. Traffic combines traditional instruments as "sitar" with conventional jazz rock improvisations. With this first effort, back in the 60's Traffic also tried to capture the psychedelic wave of the moment. The first track "Heaven is in your mind" is a gentle, melodic, emotional song which will become a standard of the band's repertoire. A lovely tune which is followed by a fine jazz rock improvisation ("Berkshire Poppies"). The others tracks carry on jazzy rock compositions, including brilliant guitar solos and tasteful keyboards' arrangements. A first original essay in a pre-prog genre, somewhere between jazz rock, folk psychedelic sounds and rudimentary pop rock ballads.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars TRAFFIC's debut is one of the more neglected gems of the British psychedelia, probably due to the fact it never scored a hit in America, at least in the format it was released in UK. But it is a masterpiece of songwriting and eclecticism in its own right.

Winwood, Capaldi, Mason and Wood created an amazing album of seemingly different influences and approach. Psychedelic keyboards, hard guitar solo a la CREAM, British folk and music-hall, jazz paranoia and Indian raga with overall Winwood's soulful voice make an album that can be enjoyed over and over. Mason gives important musical component with his guitar, bass and sitar, offering one of the best raga moments in rock music, "Utterly Simple", which beats the Fab Four's "Within You, Without You" by and large IMO. Each song has its place on this mature record, but the title track - allegedly drug-influenced imagination - "Dear Mr. Fantasy" (which was to be honoured by such giants as THE GRATEFUL DEAD on their last official live set "Without a Net" in 1989), beautiful flute ballad "No Face, No Name, No Number", and "Coloured Rain" with distinguished Wood's saxophone are the highlights. One can notice that the peculiar sound of TRAFFIC, with dominating organ, piano and woodwinds (sax and flute) and with ever diminishing presence of lead guitar and bass guitar, makes it a sort of precursor of the acts like VAN DER GRAFF GENERATOR, albeit coming from different attitude: VDGG were always more avant-garde and "classically" influenced than TRAFFIC, who sticked with R'n'B, folk and jazz scheme. However, Wood's saxophone at certain moments sounds almost as crazy as Dave Jaxon's!

This is a wonderful album, keeping in mind that this review refers to the original UK version, that is one of true "proto-progressive" rock albums of the great period 1967- 69, worth investigating by any serious fan of this genre.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The 40 year old teenager

"Mr. Fantasy" was Traffic's first album and is also one of their most popular. This is one of the albums which leads to their categorisation as a Prog Folk band, later releases moving in a more jazz orientated direction.

Prior to the release of the album in 1967, the band had enjoyed singles chart success with "Paper sun" and Dave Mason's "Hole in my shoe". Neither song was included on the original UK version of "Mr. Fantasy", Winwood feeling that the latter in particular did not represent how he envisaged the band sounding. They do both now appear though on the expanded CD remaster which contains the UK and US versions in full. The reason for the differences in the albums is that the US version was released some time after Dave Mason had departed for the first time. He had in fact left prior to the album's release in the UK, but the band were still credited as a quartet there. For the US version (initially called "Heaven is in your mind"), two of Mason's songs were dropped, while his "Hole and my shoe" was added along with "Paper sun" and another single "Smiling phases". The band however were presented on the sleeve as a trio.

It should be mentioned at this stage that around the time of this album's release Winwood was still a teenager, while the rest of the band were in their very early 20's. Even more astonishingly, Winwood had already been a member of the Spencer Davis group for four years before the formation of Traffic.

Perhaps as a reaction to the success of their singles the band, or at least three of the four them (Mason being the exception), appear to have made a determined effort here to create something with more substance right from the start. "Heaven is in your mind" mixes psychedelic influences with some bluesy instrumentation to create a relaxed West Coast sounding piece. The following "Berkshire poppies" indicates that Mason was not the only one prone to light hearted deviations, members of the Small Faces joining in to create an enjoyable but disposable drunken sounding ramble.

Mason's "House for everyone" is the only track of his which survived on both versions of the album, the song sounding rather like a Syd Barrett piece. The title track is an astonishingly accomplished and assured piece of pure proto-prog. Winwood is in superb vocal form as the track develops magnificently through passionate verses and striking instrumental passages.

"Utterly simple" is a "Norwegian wood" like slice of psychedelia, the mood continuing with "Coloured rain", which finds Winwood talking about when he was a "young boy"! "Hope I never find me there" includes some good old fashioned phasing from the period.

The album closes with "Giving to you", an instrumental jam credited to all four band members which offers an early indication the style the band will later adopt.

The current CD re-issue which contains both the US and UK versions in full, helpfully offers mono and stereo versions of the duplicated tracks. For the rest, the UK tracks are stereo, the US mono. Of the tracks which only appear on the US version, the three singles "Paper sun", "Hole in my shoe" and "Smiling phases" serve to render the album a much lighter affair. "Smiling phases" though is more representative of the band's intended direction, and was quickly picked up by Blood Sweat and Tears for an excellent cover version.

In all, a quite remarkable first album by Traffic, especially when we remember just how young the band members were at the time. Yes, it can seem a little rough round the edges, but we must also remember that this album is now over 40 years old! Recommended.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars TRAFFIC's debut was released in 1967 which really amazes me, I didn't know these guys started so early. Of course Stevie Winwood has already left his previous band SPENCER DAVIS GROUP, and yet he's still only 19 years old when they recorded "Mr.Fantasy". This is a mixed bag for me, but I must admit i'm not a big fan of Psychedelic pop tunes, especially the silly ones.

"Heaven Is In Your Mind" is a top three song for me on this record. Piano to open as drums and sax join in. Vocals follow. Piano is prominant throughout this excellent track. Tasteful guitar after 3 minutes to end the song. Nice. "Berkshire Poppies" brings in the silliness with piano.They're having fun anyway. "House For Everyone" is another top three for me. I just love the way this one sounds with sax, flute and those psychedelic lyrics. "No Face, No Name And No Number" is a ballad with some flute.

"Dear Mr.Fantasy" is my favourite off this record. I've always enjoyed listening to this one over the years. For me it's head and shoulders over the other tracks. Steve's soulful voice, the organ, the harmonica and raw guitar all combine to create magic. The guitar and drumming after 4 1/2 minutes are surprisingly aggressive. "Dealer" has this Mexican flavour to it. I like the flute. "Utterly Simple" i'm sure was influenced by THE BEATLES. Sitar is all over this Indian flavoured track. "Coloured Rain" is a song I can't get into, same with "Hope I Never Find Me There". "Giving To You" has this confusing intro which gives way to a flute / drum melody. Prominant guitar before 2 minutes,organ follows. Good song.

My favourite TRAFFIC album is "The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys".

Review by Moogtron III
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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I am a pretty old guy but to be honest my first contact with the band was their incredible single ''Gimme Some Lovin'' in 1971 (I still own it).

The band is course overshadowed by the legendary Steve Windwood: ultra talented musician and song writer. His bluesy influences can be felt during ''You Can all Join In''.

This album might well be influential on their later work but I can't really be laudatory about it. ''Traffic'' was of course not playing in the first division as a band in those days. And their debut is a mix of some good rock (''Berkshire Poppies'') and less appealing tracks.

I have often had lots of problems in judging albums from the sixties (although I am almost contemporary being born in 1959). It will be the same for this one: I could have great feelings for ''Procol Harum'' and the likes, but with this ''Mr. Fantasy'', there is hardly one song that is truly moving me (maybe ''No Face?'').

The title track though is remarkable: it is an explosion of guitar and the rock feel is just magic. Needless to say that this is my highlight from this album. It is also by far the longest track available. An excellent song indeed.

Still, I can't be as laudatory as many other reviewers about th ealbum as a whole. In my views it is just average: it holds no real great songs that will be remembered for the decades to come (correct me if I'm wrong).

Another fine tune is the very much ''Sgt. Pepper's'' oriented ''Utterly Simple''. A nice psychedelic track with some fine sitar. One of the good tracks available on this debut album. Like ''Coloured Rain'' which is my fave: great organ and passionate vocals.

I honestly can't go over two stars to rate this work.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mr. Fantasy is the debut full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Traffic. My version is the 1999 UK remastered CD with the original UK version in stereo and the mono US version ( which is called Heaven is in Your Mind)is included as a bonus. The album was originally released in 1967.

The music on Mr. Fantasy is a mix of psychadelic rock, folk, proto-prog rock and semi-jazzy elements. The musicianship is excellent and the addition of flute, sax, citar, mellotron, harpsichord and organ to the more regular rock instrumentation of bass, drums, guitar and piano really gives the music an interesting sound. The vocals are really strong and suits the music perfectly.

The style is very varied and reminds me of Family“s debut full-length studio album Music In A Doll's House (1968) and Audience self-titled debut full-length studio album from 1969. Mr. Fantasy possesses much of the same charm as those two albums IMO. The songs are rather short ( between 2 and 5 minutes long) and mostly vers/ chorus structured. All songs are of high quality. They may not be very challenging but they are memorable and well written. The progressive approach is mostly due to the use of unusual instrumentation and the way the instruments are played. The band are obviously willing to experiment within a commercial pop/ rock frame. I find all songs on the album worth mentioning but some stand out more than the rest. The opening track Heaven is in Your Mind, Dear Mr. Fantasy and the ending mostly jamming instrumental track Giving to You are among my favorites. The latter probably gives a good picture of how Traffic sounded live as I assume they jammed a lot more in that environment than they did on this very structured album.

The US mono version which is included as a bonus, features a different tracklist which includes some single tracks instead of some of the album tracks from the UK version. Dave Mason had left the band shortly after the release of the UK version which meant that the band removed some of the songs which were penned by him from the US version. Personally I prefer the tracklist on the UK version and the psychadelic pop/ rock songs which were included to the US version are not as interesting as the tracks which were removed from the UK version. The fact that the bonus tracks are in mono doesn“t help either. I much prefer the stereo sound.

Mr. Fantasy has been a positive surprise for me and I assume this is considered a quite influential proto-prog album and rightly so. 4 stars are well deserved. I really enjoyed this album.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars Traffic's first album was (and remains) their most eclectic and non-commercial release, combining great songwriting with diverse instrumentation and a blend of psych, folk, Eastern sounds and blues rock that had no parallel at the time, and very few since. The Incredible String Band was also mixing rock, folk and some Eastern influenced music around the same time, but the combination of Jim Capaldi's wild percussion, Chris Woods' solid flute work and spacey organ and Dave Mason's multiple talents on sitar, guitar and occasional Mellotron (among other things) offered an unmatched solid platform for young whiz-kid Steve Winwood's engaging vocals and guitar.

Despite the band having three keyboardists this is an album full of acoustic instrumentation and is surprisingly light on keyboards. Woods makes more of a contribution with his flute on tracks like "Dealer" and saxophone on "Coloured Rain", which also includes his organ work and at times sounds more like a Chicago tune than most of the other Traffic on this album and those that followed.

These are shorter songs than a lot of what would follow, which is not surprising considering the popularity of pop-psych at the time and given the connections every member had to the former Spencer Davis Group. By the time the band wound down seven years later the psych influences would be all but gone, replaced by African percussion and more commercial-leaning songwriting along with more mature jazz tinges that are almost non-existent here. In some ways those later albums were even better than this one since the considerable talents of the various members would be much more prevalent, but in 1967 this was pretty impressive stuff and close to being unique.

The U.S. release would have two Dave Mason tracks removed on its initial release ("Utterly Simple" and "Hope I Never Find Me There") since he had made his first exit from the band even before the record's release. The first of these is folksier than anything else on the album, while the second has both folk tendencies and ample use of the type of Eastern instrumentation and Mellotron more favored by Mason than by the rest of the band, although "Paper Sun" (a Capaldi/Winwood song that was not included in the initial UK version of the album) also features heavy use of sitar and tamboura. "Hole in My Shoe" did make the U.S. release and includes some child's spoken words and a heavy pop-psych feel, and this one makes me wonder exactly what it was about Mason's style that put Winwood and Capaldi off to the point where they asked him to leave after his second stint with the band.

The main attraction on this album is the timeless title track, credited to all but Mason yet widely acknowledged to have been mostly penned and arranged by Winwood while the band was ensconced in the Berkshire Downs communal home during the summer of 1967. Producer Jimmy Miller has reported the song was recorded during a memorable late-night session, and the song definitely has a solid, mature feel that isn't heard anywhere else on the record. This is the one I think of most when contemplating what this band could have accomplished had personalities and tensions not brought about their demise far too soon.

This album is a classic, and one that belongs in every serious progressive music lover's collection. The songs are a tad bit uneven and it can be difficult to get a strong sense of what the album was supposed to sound like given the large number of different versions that were released then and since. Still, most of the tracks hold up quite well today, especially "Heaven is in Your Mind", "No Face, No Name, No Number", "Dealer" and of course the title track. Not quite a masterpiece but pretty damn close. Four stars out of five without question and recommended as all but essential.


Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The album cover ensures that this would be a mind-bending trip through psychedelia, in which it is, to some extent. It's also soulful and and quite bluesy at times, thanks to variations of influences and divided opinions among members as to what style of music this band should be aiming for. It's an entertaining first listen, as I remember anticipating each following track as Mr. Fantasy possesses an eclectic mix of tunes that bounce between the serious, pretentious and just plain goofy fun.

The album starts off with a strong number in Heaven Is In Your Mind, which perfectly balances its trippy vibe and lyrics with Steve Winwood's impressive R&B-ish delivery at times. Quality stuff, and certainly has some good "space proggy funk" thing goin' on that gives it a unique flavour. Things then get silly for a bit, with filler-like material and Dave Mason's acid drenched happy-pop. Then the seriousness kicks back in and so forth...the album is all over the map in certain ways yet somehow cohesive in that there's actually some sort of flow to these songs; it never gets too "left field", even when you're hit with a barrage of sitar & tabla music (Utterly Simple).

Other great tracks besides Heaven Is In Your Mind include the classic title track with it's superb vocals and kickin' guitar solo, and Dealer, showcasing great acoustic guitar picking and flute soloing over a fast rhythm. I kinda like the jazzy instrumental Giving To You as well, again showing the diversity the band was capable of at this time. There is some filler, but the killer stuff really is killer.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Traffic are clearly a talented gang, but it took me a while to see the charms of Mr. Fantasy. The production isn't what it could be, and I think that affects things. The flow of their musical ideas is also odd at this stage in their career: they'll get a good thing going on a track but then abruptly shift gears so hard you get whiplash. For instance, the intro to House For Everyone makes you expect something spooky and foreboding, but then the vocal sections dive into fairytale whimsy, and the vocal parts and the instrumental stretches don't quite sit together. Add to that the way a lot of the band's whimsy (as on Berkshire Poppies) seems more forced and insincere than others of the era and the general patchiness of the songwriting and you've got an album which I struggled to like. However, between Winwood's organ playing and a generally better second side than the first side (a rare example of an album of this era being rear-loaded rather than front loaded), I've come to enjoy the psychedelic charms of this a little more, though I am glad that they shifted to a more focused approach over time.
Review by patrickq
2 stars Mr. Fantasy seemed like a no-brainer - - an album that had to be good. First, I'd been very impressed with Traffic's 1970 album John Barleycorn Must Die and its follow-up, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. I also liked Traffic's debut single, "Paper Sun," released a few months before Mr. Fantasy. There was also the fact that I knew of and liked the title track, "Dear Mr. Fantasy."

In opening the proceedings, "Heaven is in Your Mind" signals that this album would at least acknowledge the Motown affinity singer-pianist Steve Winwood had displayed on the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'." A good start - - but as it turns out, "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Heaven is in Your Mind" are the only strong tracks on Mr. Fantasy.

According to Wikipedia, Traffic recorded Mr. Fantasy between April and November of 1967. At the end of May, the Beatles' monumental Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, and it's hard to picture what Mr. Fantasy might've sounded like without the Beatles influence. The individual songs on Traffic's debut don't sound like Fab Four knockoffs, but from the stylistic approach (including having two divergent songwriters) to the diverse instrumentation to the juxtaposition of thoughtfulness (e.g., "No Face, No Name, No Number," "Hope I Never Find Me There") and amusing irreverence ("Berkshire Poppies" and especially "Hole in My Shoe," which appeared on the US release of the album), Mr. Fantasy is heavily Beatlesque. But unlike other late-1960s LPs sometimes considered "proto-prog,"Mr. Fantasy has not aged well.

Aside from the derivative feel, a major deficiency is the mismatch between Dave Mason's clever, from-the-head compositions, and the more from-the-heart songs jointly credited to Jim Capaldi, Winwood, and Chris Wood (or sometimes just to Capaldi-Winwood). Thus, the album is a collection of disparate songs rather than a synergistic whole ą la Sgt. Pepper. But ultimately, my issue with Mr. Fantasy is the quality of the material. "No Face, No Name, No Number" and "Coloured Rain" are decent album cuts, which leaves six sub-par tracks. Replacing three of these with the singles "Smiling Phases," "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush," and "Paper Sun" would probably have made for a three-star album.

If you're a Traffic enthusiast or a fan of any of the individual members, you probably already have Mr. Fantasy and/or the superior US variant Heaven is in Your Mind. For anyone else I'd suggest any Traffic compilation which includes both of the title songs: "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Heaven is in Your Mind," including the two-CD Traffic Gold, the single disc sets 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Traffic and Feelin' Alright: The Very Best of Traffic, and the four-CD Winwood collections The Finer Things and Revolutions - - The Very Best of Steve Winwood. Most of these also have "Smiling Phases" and "Paper Sun."

P.S. There are just over a thousand singles and albums inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Sixty-nine of these are rock albums released after 1966 (this includes punk, country rock - - any kind of rock). So we're talking about albums like Abbey Road, All Things Must Pass, Born to Run, Blood on the Tracks, Hotel California, Rumors, Tommy, and the White Album. Mr. Fantasy is also one of those albums. So take my advice with a proverbial grain of salt.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Traffic's "Mr. Fantasy" is an impressive debut album that showcases the band's eclectic and innovative musical style early into their career. From start to finish each track feels unique, with intricate instrumentation and captivating melodies that keep the listener engaged. The band's musical talen ... (read more)

Report this review (#2940505) | Posted by Prog Network | Sunday, July 16, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It is very rare these days music artist put out masterpiece and it“s best album as the first release. But it wasn“t in the 60/70ties, with Traffic also for example Family, King Crimson, Dr. John, Magma, Caravan and Comus did that! Also I think Pink Floyd, Wigwam, Faust, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2842297) | Posted by Mortte | Sunday, September 25, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is trippy, cool, fun, uplifting, and very proto-prog. It may be one the best hippy-pop albums ever made, and it is still enjoyable, and but little dated. Highlights are Heaven is In Your Mind (One of my favorite Traffic tunes), House for Everyone, Dear Mr Fantasy, The Dealer, and Co ... (read more)

Report this review (#271086) | Posted by mohaveman | Wednesday, March 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 'Dear Mr Fantasy' was a product of Steve Winwood's desire to distance himself from the hype of the pop scene and make a serious 'ROCK' record instead of the hip singles that he had been churning out with Spencer Davis and the angst of Dave Mason's desire for hit records ( only Mason wanted 'Hole ... (read more)

Report this review (#172580) | Posted by Karyobin | Friday, May 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A suite of 15 short tracks, more psychedelic pop than prog. Yet, when i listen to the flute, sitar and bass guitar i think to Aphrodite's Child's 666 album. For example, the last seconds of the track Dear Mr. Fantasy are the same than the first seconds of the track Altamont from the 666 album ... (read more)

Report this review (#161489) | Posted by motoprog | Sunday, February 10, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A fantastic exploration of psychedelia and the early beginnings of Prog rock. A must for a psychedelia fan or someone trying to understand the beginnings of Prog rock, and nicely silly - this was made by a band having a lot of fun (although were there too many psychedelics going on?). Worth g ... (read more)

Report this review (#151303) | Posted by PinkPangolin | Saturday, November 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A strange debut... too experimental... but quite original. Mainly dominated by a psychedelic madness, this album explores a lot of moods and styles, being influenced, simultaneously, by a kind of concept ą la Sgt. Peppers. Mason is flexing muscles on "Hope I Never Find Me There" and "House for ... (read more)

Report this review (#113990) | Posted by sircosick | Thursday, March 1, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What I know of this album is its UK version, and it's one of my favourite albums ever. Prog- Folk, here, is not the right definition, being the 1968 Traffic an amazing proto-prog- psychedelic band which could (and can) dare facing any other competitors (early Pink Floyd included) and influence " ... (read more)

Report this review (#99549) | Posted by paolo.beenees | Sunday, November 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Reading all other reviews of "Mr. fantasy", I thought: what's the problem with me? I love Traffic's music, but I don't like this album. This album seems old-fashioned; IMHO, the only Traffic album which falls into this category. Of course "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is a wonderful track, but it is the ... (read more)

Report this review (#38644) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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