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TRAFFIC

Traffic

Eclectic Prog


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Traffic Traffic album cover
3.43 | 131 ratings | 16 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. You Can All Join In (3:40)
2. Pearly Queen (4:21)
3. Don't Be Sad (3:25)
4. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring (3:15)
5. Feelin' Alright (4:20)
6. Vagabond Virgin (5:22)
7. Forty Thousand Headmen (3:14)
8. Cryin' To Be Heard (5:12)
9. No Time To Live (5:20)
10. Means To An End (2:35)

Total Time: 40:24

Bonus tracks on 1999 remaster:
11. Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (2:45)
12. Am I What I Was Or Am I What I Am (2:36)
13. Withering Tree (2:57)
14. Medicated Goo (3:39)
15. Shanghai Noodle Factory (5:03)

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Winwood / vocals (2,4,7,9,10), organ (2,3,7,8), piano (5,6,9), harpsichord (8), guitar (1-4,7), bass (1,2,5,6,9)
- Dave Mason / lead (3) & acoustic (1,5,6) guitars, harmonica (2,3), bass (8), organ (9), vocals (1,3,5,6,8)
- Chris Wood / flute (2,6,7), tenor (1,5) & soprano (3,8,9) saxes, bells (7), drums & percussion (10)
- Jim Capaldi / drums, percussion (4), keyboards, vocals & alto clarinet (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Gered Mankowitz and Richard Polak (photo)

LP Island Records ‎- ILPS 9081T (1968, UK)
LP Friday Music ‎- FRM 9081 (2012, US) Remastered by Joe Reagoso & Kevin Gray

CD Island Records ‎- 422-842 590-2 (1987, US)
CD Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab ‎- UDCD 629 (1995, US) Remastered (?)
CD Island Remasters ‎- IMCD 265 (1999, Europe) Remastered with 5 bonus tracks

Tracks 11, 12: From the film soundtrack 'Here WE Go Round The Mulberry Bush'
Track 13: B-SIde of 'Feelin' Alright?' Single
Tracks 14, 15: Island Single

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

Buy TRAFFIC Traffic Music


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TRAFFIC Traffic ratings distribution


3.43
(131 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
16%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
38%
Good, but non-essential (36%)
36%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

TRAFFIC Traffic reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
4 stars (second of a serie of ten)

Traffic's second album gets the same rating for the exact same reasons - Historical importance. Of course slightly less than their debut but it has better overall musicianship. Traffic was one of those first groups professing a pastoral look and music and retreating to the countryside to write and re/inspire , much like later bands will do (Zep with Bron-Y-Aur and Genesis and Mc Phail cottage).

This album has the Feelin' Allright hit but also many other things bound to please early-prog fans - I am thinking of the absolute masterpieces 40,000 Headman and No Place To Live. Much of the other tracks are still in the psychadelic mode of the times and may take a few listen to get used to if you are only discovering the band.

Although not described here, this album comes also in a re-release package with many bonus tracks (mainly non-album singles but the odd alternate take) , most of it of much importance and value. Again as with the debut , this is likely to please older progheads but younger ones should approach this with the historical facilities in mind.

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This second Traffic`s album is more "disciplined" than their first album, in the playing of the instruments and in the arrangements. Maybe it is their best album recorded with Dave Mason. It also has less influence from psychedelia, with a mixture of the most Progressive things in Traffic (represented, IMO, by Winwood, Capaldi and Wood) and the mostly Pop Rock vision of Mason. But there is a balance of both influences. They sometimes influence each other with good results. Also, the recordings are better, still with some mistakes done by the members of the band playing their instruments, but still playing and singing with feeling and joy, and some improvisation in some songs. Again produced by Jimmy Miller, who gave them a lot of freedom.The album starts with Mason`s "You Can All Join In", which is a happy Pop Rock song. I think that Mason also had in his style some Folk Music influences. "Pearly Queen" (composed by Winwood/Capaldi) is more heavy. "Don`t be sad" (Mason) is another happy Pop song."Who knows what tomorrow may bring" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood) is a "light song" but a rocker in some way. "Feelin`Alright" (Mason) is a very good Pop song, played with acoustic guitar. Maybe this song was one of Mason`s most known songs, as it was also recorded by other artists like Joe Cocker and Three Dog Night. Maybe it is his most known hit. "Vagabond Virgin" (Mason/Wood) is a song played with acoustic guitars, flute and percussion. I think that Capaldi`s style of percusion and drums playing gave Traffic an important contribuiton to their very original music style. The same is for Chris Wood`s flute and saxes style of playing. "Forty Thousand Headmen" (Winwood/Capaldi) is another song played with acoustic guitars and percussion. It is one of the best from this album. "Cryin`to be heard" (Mason) is less Pop and better integrated with the style of Winwood, Capaldi and Wood.There is a very good harpsichord arrangement in this song.Mason and Winwood share lead vocals in this song. "No Time To Live" (Winwood/Capaldi) is a bit "dark" song with existential lyrics, very good sax atmospheres by Wood and some percussion atmospheres (with added echo) played by Capaldi. This song is also one of the best from this album. The album ends with a more happy song, "Means To An End". Some of the lyrics in this album are very good. The original L.P. release of this album had a 10 page booklet with photographs. The cover design was done by Jim Capaldi.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars 40,000 Headmen alone justifies this release but over and above that not much really to write home about. Sure Traffic were still negotiating a 'road map' to bigger and better things which were just around the corner but their second offering lacked IMO more than their debut. Looking back it is for a collector an important piece of work but as a direct album from a quality compositional output, I would have to say for Collectors only.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It is well known that Dave Mason from the beginning wanted to pursue his own ideas, clashing with Winwood et al. over the concept of the band. On the debut album this seemed to be overcome by mutual burst of energy and fresh ideas. But already on this, their second album, one can notice the discrepancy between Mason's attempts to go for mainstream rock and more ambitious projects of other three members. The resulting album sounds much better than the debut in terms of production, but lacks enough strong compositions. The best moments here are small masterpieces of musicianship: heavy blues of "Pearly Queen", folksy acoustic ballad of "40000 Headmen", popular soul hit "Feelin' Alright" and psyche-ballad with wonderful sax "No Time To Live", but the rest is pretty much negligible. Still, this is a good album although not on par with what TRAFFIC could offer.
Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The category of progressive folk is contradictory by its own nature. To be adventurous and innovative in a form of music that is inherently conventional and somewhat prescribed a group has to be a little schizophrenic and perhaps that's what this album is. And I mean that in a good way. Some history first. Teen prodigy Steve Winwood had spent four years with Spencer Davis, crafting hit after hit of pop/R&B radio staples. Weary of that treadmill, he assembled Traffic in order to pursue a more original style of music heavily influenced by folk's story-driven lyrics and unenhanced instrumentation. This was risky business because that approach wasn't in the forefront of current trends at the time. The closest anyone was coming to traditional music was Dylan on "John Wesley Harding" and The Band on "Music from Big Pink" but both leaned more towards American country. "Mr. Fantasy," Traffic's first release, had been more topical (it was a trippy, psychedelic excursion) but it did succeed in putting them on the map by reaching #8 on the US charts. They now had an audience they hoped would be ready for a new approach.

"You Can All Join In" typifies the optimistic mood the band wanted to establish from the get go. While many songs of the day proclaimed dire warnings and preached about dangerous omens, here Dave Mason urges us to count our blessings as he sings "Love you, it's nothing new/there's someone much worse off than you are." It's lighthearted and infectious from start to finish. "Pearly Queen" has a deceptively peaceful beginning but then it tears into a driving blues riff with a strong backbeat from Jim Capaldi. This time it's Winwood who tells us to lighten up with "then one day/I met an Indian girl/and she made me forget/this troubled world we're living in." This one's more along the lines of their previous album with a psychedelic guitar lead panned from side to side and a raga-type ending. "Don't be Sad" continues to encourage us with Mason warbling "I just want to see you get through" as a harmonica and soprano sax play around the chords gleefully. One of my all-time favorite songs, "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring," is next. It has a cool, funky groove accented by some percussive organ taps from Winwood and you just want it to go on and on. His understated Hammond B3 solo is perfection. "We are not like all the rest," he sings. No kidding. And it's all just him and Jim Capaldi on this tune.

"Feeling Alright?" is one of the most recognizable Traffic songs and it's only two chords. Unlike Joe Cocker's rockin' version, this one sounds like they're playing it in your living room and having a ball. It's actually a lament over a breakup and Mason's droll, what's-the-use delivery is a treat. The piano, congas and tenor sax create a delicious jam combination as it fades away. "Vagabond Virgin" is another cosmic ditty, this one about a young prostitute. It's the weakest song on the album but Chris Wood's excellent flute solo keeps it from becoming laborious. What can I say about "40,000 Headmen" that isn't obvious? It tells an entertaining fantasy story and creates an indelible atmosphere. (With music this good, who wouldn't choose blindness over being deaf?) "Cryin' to be Heard" is a stirring call for compassion that beckons you not to get "wrapped up in your little world" and features a fine harpsichord performance from Steve. "No Time to Live" is yet another masterpiece. Wood's haunting soprano sax permeates the tune as the piano creates a beautiful, dramatic aura. Winwood turns in his best vocal here as he sings in anguish "I've given everything that was mine to give/and now I turn around and find/that there's no time to live." It's an amazing song. The finale is Steve playing everything but drums on the lively "Means to an End." Maybe he's addressing Mason (who was only around for about half the sessions) when he sings "like Peter you disowned me" for this turned out to be the last complete studio album from the original foursome. But, despite their bickering, they still managed to make a classic album.

From what I can tell this band (along with The Pentangle) was the instigator of prog folk. Traffic incorporated sax, flute, harmonica, piano and drums with acoustic and electric guitar to create a progressive brand of unpretentious, straightforward music with this album. Their songs appealed to a whole generation in the late 60s and early 70s that still craved the simplicity they had found in artists like Dylan and Donovan but wanted something new they could latch onto. It seemed like every college student at that time had a copy of this LP in his stack of records. And no wonder. It's a near-masterpiece gem.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Make your own words up if you want to, any old words that you think will do"

Less than a year after the release of their debut album "Mr. Fantasy", Traffic return with this fine self titled release. Dave Mason (who left the band after the debut had been recorded but before its release) was already back in the fold, restoring the band to a quartet.

Mason's influence on this album is strong, with him writing (co-writing one) no less than 5 of the 10 tracks. As could reasonably be expected, his songs are generally lighter and more pop orientated than the Winwood/Capaldi material, although for this release it is interesting to note that some of the latter pair's compositions here were potential hit singles.

It is Mason's irresistible sing-a-long "You can all join in", a sort of precursor for T-Rex's "Ride a white swan", which occupies the all important opening slot. The song, whose title would be used for an early Island Records sampler on which it appeared, is a quirky folk tinged affair, which was released as a single in Europe and briefly in the UK. The song is a strange choice for such a prominent position on the album, as it implies that the band were looking to revert to a lighter, chart seeking orientation.

The following track "Pearly queen" also appeared on the "You can all join in" sampler, but in the form of a cover version by Art. Here, it represents Steve Winwood's first vocal contribution to the album, the song being a pretty basic Hendrix like pop rock number.

Mason is afforded a notable amount of time centre stage, perhaps a precondition of his return to the band. On his reflective "Don't be sad", he and Winwood alternative on lead vocal, a policy which could have been exploited further had Mason chosen to stay.

The direction the band would pursue on later albums is pointed towards on "Who knows what tomorrow may bring". This rather funky song was written by Winwood, Capaldi and Wood, but Wood and Mason are credited as playing "nothing" on the track, Winwood providing all the vocals and instruments with the exception of Capaldi's drumming. Mason's "Feelin' alright" actually has the feel of a Winwood composition, the song being successfully covered by Grand Funk Railroad and Joe Cocker among others. Mason though reverts to type with the whispy 60's pop of "Vagabond Virgin". Even here though the piano and flute interludes are forward looking.

The band's prog folk side, which can be difficult to pin down at times, comes to the fore on "40000 headmen" (full title "Roamin' thro' the gloamin' with 40,000 headmen"). Mason's final composition, "Cryin' to be heard", is straightforward pop ballad with soft harpsichord backed verses and louder organ backed choruses.

"No time to live" is more indicative of the band's future direction, the reflective vocal performance of Winwood combining well with the soprano sax of Chris Wood. Interestingly, it is Dave Mason who actually provides the Winwood like organ backing. Only Winwood and Wood actually play on the final track "Means to an end", with Wood taking on the drumming! The song has the sound of something from Winwood's later solo albums, with a distinctly funky rhythm.

The Island CD remaster has five bonus tracks. The first two of these are taken from a film soundtrack for "Here we go round the mulberry bush", the title track providing Traffic with a hit single. These two tracks are actually much older than the album itself, being the first songs Traffic recorded together. "Withering tree" is a non-album b-side, while "Medicated goo" and "Shanghai noodle factory" formed the A and B sides of what was at the time thought to be a posthumous Traffic single.

In all, a fine second album by Traffic. It may not contain the initial excitement or inspiration of "Mr. Fantasy", but we must still bear in mind that this album dates from 1968.

Review by Moogtron III
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album is a masterpiece. So why do I give it four stars instead of five? Simply because it is a masterpiece of pop / rock, but not of progressive music: this is probably Traffic's most traditional sounding album.

But a wonderful album it is! Both Steve Winwood and Dave Mason write 5 songs for the album, and they're all good. You wouldn't expect this album to be essential when you listen to the opening song of the album, Mason's 'You Can All Join In', starting with the words: 'Here's a little song you can all join in with; it's very simple and I hope it's new. Make your own words up if you want to; any old words that you think will do.' That doesn't sound like the opening track of an ambitious album. Sure, the song has a hook, and it is a feel good song, but it sounds a bit throw-away. But you might be surprised by the album, like I was!

Both Winwood and Mason are in peak form as songwriters on the album. As I said in other words, the album is the least progressive of all of the Traffic albums. What we see on the album instead is the art of writing a good pop song, the art of good tunesmiths. For that it gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Is that all there is to it? Is that enough to give the album even four stars instead of three: ten solid songs? No, because Traffic gives you more than you expect at first hearing.

First of all: the album might be the most traditional sounding album of Traffic, but the band still is more creative than your average pop band: one of the secret ingredients is Chris Wood. His sax and flute playing is still imaginative, as on the first album, and even though he proves himself to be a skilled traditional player as well: on this album it is often because of Chris' almost fuzzy way of playing that the album starts getting adventurous. This is a pop /rock album, yes, but with strong hints of jazz and folk and psychedelic music and Chris Wood is for a big part responsible for that.

Second: drummer Jim Capaldi may not be a drummer which gets mentioned often in polls, but he is an excellent and very original lyricist. His lyrics for this album are almost sensational, for a part bohemian (about vagabond virgins and a pearly queen with gypsy blood in her veins), for a part surrealistic (about 40 000 headmen and three small ships that were sailing and you name it), but always adventurous. Jim Capaldi is one of the best lyric writers of the hippie age, and even beyond that. Dave Mason, who was more at home in writing about personal relationships, proves himself on this album that he can also write lyrics in Capaldi's style. The lyrics on the album are really the cream on the cake!

The third and most important reason: there's a climax to be heard in the album. After six good songs we hear three excellent songs. Dave Mason's 'Crying To Be Heard' is breathtakingly good! The melody line, the organ playing, the very open, spacious sound, the tempo changes, the dynamics (soft / loud), the energetic instrumental outburst at the end, the exciting fantasy lyrics about rain being the tears of someone who desperately wants to be heard... The song has proto-progressive elements, and what's more: this is Mason's masterpiece for the band, and one of the best sixties pop songs ever written, rivaling songs like 'Expecting To Fly' from Buffalo Springfield. Maybe it's even the best song ever written by Dave Mason.

Two Winwood songs in special stand out as well: 40 000 Headmen and No Time To Live. The piano / organ intro of the latter, simple as it is, might very well please a lot of prog fans. Without being a virtuoso, Winwood was a master on the keys. Both of the Winwood songs are much more complex than a simple pop song, especially when it comes to the melody lines.

Traffic's more or less progressive phase would start at their next studio album, John Barleycorn Must Die, but Traffic's eponymous album should be heard as well, and will remain interesting after many listening sessions. It's one of the best albums they made, and for me, personally, it's even my favourite Traffic album.

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars ''Traffic'' has been moved from the prog-folk to the eclectic genre a while ago but I really don't understand this move. Eclectic style means complex, intricate music which is something I cannot find in ''Traffic'' records.

A country-Western tune to open, some average psyche one with ''Pearly Queen'' aren't jewels of progressive music to say the least.

My perspective here, which has been the same with some other great bands from the sixties, is that if the album is not great there are NO reasons to grant them with four or five stars because of their ''historical'' importance. An album is great or not: period. And I can't feel this one belonging to the pinnacle of prog music.

Can anyone on this site be thrilled with ''Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring''? I can't.

Of course, there is the hit ''Feelin' Alright'' available: but I can't really relate the track with the eclectic genre to be honest. This is still a very good song indeed.

Most of this album do share some folkish atmospheres (''Vagabond Virgin'') but even during those ones, I couldn't feel the same passion than with Tull for instance. OK, there is a nice psychedelic feel during ''Forty Thousand Headmen'' and some fluting as well, but in comparison of the whole album, it sounds a bit ''short''.

My favourite song from the whole is ''Cryin' To Be Heard''. It offers some superb keys and strong vocals as well. This is maybe the most ''prog'' related song of the whole. Of course, if you like some bluesy-soul stuff, a song like ''No Time To Live'' might be a great moment for you; but I don't share the same bill. At all.

IMO, this is an overrated album. Two stars is my rating. I can't add anything else for historical reasons.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Traffic is the second full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Traffic. After leaving the band for a while Traffic sees the return of Dave Mason to the lineup. It wouldnīt last long though but long enough to record Traffic.

Traffic is quite the departure from the eclectic and adventurous Mr. Fantasy (1967) album which featured great emphasis on unusual rock instrumentation and an obvious will to experiment within the commercial pop/ rock frame. The music on Traffic is much more in the sixties blues/ rock/ soul vein and while this isnīt necessarily a bad thing I think itīs a hard pill to swallow after the excellence of the great debut. The music sometimes remind me of the bluesy/ soul songs by Procol Harum. When that is said the music is very well written and executed. I canīt deny that itīs a quality release. The production is also very professional and well sounding too. There are few excursions into folky and psychadelic territory but they are few. An example of the folky elements can be found in the song Vagabond Virgin.

Iīll be honest and say that Traffic wasnīt exactly what I expected and Iīm slightly disappointed by the lack of adventurous material on the album. A 3 star rating is still deserved for a quality release. Iīd recommend checking out Mr. Fantasy before this one though.

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Buoyed by the success of 'Mr. Fantasy' Traffic set to work on a follow-up in the summer of 1968, minus Dave Mason who had departed before the first album even hit the record store shelves. The band hadn't done much in the studio for over a year, although Island Records had managed to keep their name alive with a patched-together single and touring schedule.

As with most things Traffic, there is some confusion (or perhaps revisionist history) surrounding this album. Steve Winwood remembers it being recorded at Island's studios in London, while Mason claims to have happened upon the band while they were struggling to piece together enough material to finish their sessions at the Record Plant in New York City. Mason is known to have spent time that spring in Hedra Greece (where he wrote "Feelin' Alright") before returning to America so either scenario is plausible. In any case the band seems to have welcomed him back, for his contribution of half the songs on the album if for no other reason. But as with the band's debut he would be gone just as the album was released and the band toured the U.S. without him save for a single performance in New York just as the record went to press.

The songs on this album have the same sort of bipolar feel as the first one, most likely thanks to Mason's penchant for simple chord progressions and catchy hooks while the others preferred more complex arrangements. Relatively-speaking of course, since really most of the music Traffic released prior to 1970 wasn't tremendously complex and tended to lean on the light psych nuances of pop and rock music of that era. There is also a fair amount of blues influence in the guitar work on tracks like "Pearly Queen", the opening "You Can All Join In" (a Mason tune) and my personal favorite "Don't Be Sad" which was a single waiting to happen and also a Mason tune that included some ambitious harmonica from Mason aligning quite well with Chris Woods' saxophone work and a comfortable Mason/ Winwood guitar pairing.

As is the case with much of the band's discography there are a handful of mellow folksy touches on some of the slower, piano and organ-driven tracks here, such as "No Time to Live", "Forty Thousand Headmen" and the twangy boogie closing track "Means to an End". Gone are many of the more exotic instruments Mason provided on the debut though, which for me are an unfortunate omission.

This is probably the least impactful record the band would release during their tumultuous career, which of itself is an interesting statement since it still manages to outshine much of the work of their contemporaries at the time. The individual players were all top-notch musicians, a fact that makes one wonder what would have been possible had they been able to stifle both personality conflicts and competing artistic interests. In the end this is a very decent record, and one that certainly any fan of the band will have in their collection and will likely have found memories of. But considered in the overall context of music of that era and more importantly, when considered against what the band was capable of, I'd have to say it merits a rating of no more than three out of five stars and a modest recommendation. What was to come would be far more interesting and worthy of attention.

peace

Latest members reviews

4 stars While 1967's Mr. Fantasy was inspired by the psychedelic bands of the time, Traffic evolved rapidly and suddenly with the release of their second album the coming year. Folk rock entered the stage in a much more prominent role, mostly carried by Mason's song writing. What came from the self ti ... (read more)

Report this review (#1444584) | Posted by aglasshouse | Friday, July 24, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For me, Traffic is not the typical band in the "prog rock genre", definitely not the early incarnation with Dave Mason on board. On this album, as well as the debut, we found a band more connected to the underground or "psychedelic" movement. But one can notice a more straight approach on the ... (read more)

Report this review (#249845) | Posted by Dr Pripp | Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A solid album, I am fond of this one. More consistent, mature and better written than their debut, in my sense, and I like this one more, though I have not sat down to listen to that album in its entirety. Gone are the silly psychedelic flourishes and inconsistencies on Mr. Fantasy. Every song o ... (read more)

Report this review (#164888) | Posted by listen | Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Somewhere in the middle of the psychedelia of Mr. Fantasy and the jazz-folk of John BarleyCorn Must Die, is this release by Traffic. While it is a little bit light on the prog, iit is noteworthy release in that features a prominent contribution from Dave Mason. Although Mason is indeed a renown ... (read more)

Report this review (#137890) | Posted by jimidom | Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a lost gem in prog-folk rock history. Starting with Mason's "You can all join in", a folky track with good guitar, although I think here is one of the few dull moments in the LP, because after this... Ąwhat a beautiful song! "Pearly Queen" has everything you can desire in a song: nice ... (read more)

Report this review (#105588) | Posted by sircosick | Thursday, January 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album focuses alot more on Dave Mason that subsequent works would. Winwood and Capaldi still have about half of the songwriting credits though. This album introduces us to a less psychadelic, more folkish Traffic. How anyone could rate it under 4 stars is beyond me. Songs like "You Ca ... (read more)

Report this review (#33757) | Posted by Tenorsaxman89 | Friday, May 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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