The Daily Walk with Love
Traffic’s Traffic, their second studio album, peaked
at no. 17 on Billboard. AllMusic said
it “achieved a strong balance between Dave Mason’s
simple and straightforward folk-rock songs and Steve Winwood’s
complex and often haunting rock jams.” If forced
to a choice I would probably say that I prefer Dave Mason’s
style, but just barely. I regret that
Traffic ever broke up, they had a really great sound.
March 21, 2018
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This was a high point in the collaboration between
Steve Winwood and Dave Mason known as Traffic.
It was their second studio album.
The Daily Walk with Love, March 21, 2018, by Paul Evans. Video is Traffic_ Traffic (1968) full album, courtesy of YouTube, © 1968 Island Records, fair use claimed. Also on YouTube see Traffic_ Mr Fantasy (1967) full album (their first studio album); and Traffic-The Low Spark of High-heeeled Boys [Full Album] 1971, their fourth and final studio album and perhaps the one most people think of when they are thinking of the band Traffic; and John Barleycorn Must Die (full album, 1970, my own personal favorite song of Traffic’s). Featured photograph of Traffic courtesy of YouTube. Traffic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Rolling Stone has a nice biography of Traffic, which speaks of the original band thusly:
The original Traffic had two phases. At first it was a winsomely psychedelic pop band that blended blues, folk, rock, and R&B and was fronted by Steve Winwood and Dave Mason. This group recorded such FM-radio favorites as “Paper Sun” and “You Can All Join In.” After Mason left, the band became Steve Winwood’s vehicle for longer, moodier excursions that leaned closer to jazz and soul. This group was responsible for “Glad,” “Freedom Rider,” “Empty Pages,” and “Rock & Roll Stew.” Traffic was popular in both incarnations.
When the band formed in 1967, Steve Winwood was its best-known member because of his lead vocals with the Spencer Davis Group. Winwood left that band to found Traffic. He and his friends Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi, and Dave Mason wrote and rehearsed in a cottage in the English countryside….
You can also read biographies of Traffic by Steve Winwood on his website or by Dave Mason, which primarily describes Mason’s contribution to the group. Wikipedia says of Traffic and their history that:
Traffic were an English rock band, formed in Birmingham. The group was formed in April 1967 by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason. They began as a psychedelic rock group and diversified their sound through the use of instruments such as keyboards like the Mellotron and harpsichord, sitar, and various reed instruments, and by incorporating jazz and improvisational techniques in their music. Their first three singles were “Paper Sun”, “Hole in My Shoe”, and “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”.
After disbanding in 1969, during which time Winwood joined Blind Faith, (with Dave Mason coming and going from the band), Traffic reunited in 1970 to release the critically acclaimed album John Barleycorn Must Die. The band’s line-up varied from this point until they disbanded again in 1975. A partial reunion, with Winwood and Capaldi, took place in 1994.
There is an excellent piece about Traffic on NightFlight titled Jim Capaldi of Traffic: Recalling the band’s early years on “Night Flight”, which gives some idea of the popularity of Traffic, especially among counterculture people but also generally, when they say:
Tracks like “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Medicated Goo,” “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “Glad,” “Freedom Rider,” “Empty Pages” and “John Barleycorn,” among others, made Traffic a staple on FM radio from ’67 to ’74.
Their cogent hybrid of long-winded rock-blues-soul-jazz-folk jams was influenced as by west coast American psychedelic-acid rock bands like the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead as they were by their contemporaries, British organ-powered R&B rock bands, and by adding additional jazz elements of their own, Traffic also proved to be influential to the progressive rock groups that came after them, bands like Yes, Genesis and even progressive jazz artists like Chick Corea.
Please feel encouraged to visit Traffic’s Facebook page. My personal favorite among Traffic’s music is an adaptation of an early English folk song that I believe goes back to Renaissance times, which produced the 1970 album by the same name John Barleycorn Must Die (YouTube — 35:00, full album), is about beer and temperance, has influenced such jazz greats as Ramsey Lewis, and in my opinion is just sheer brilliance. Read more about this album if you wish on Wikipedia. After “The Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys in 1971, Traffic’s discography was completed with “Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory (1973), “When the Eagle Flies” (1974), and from the reunion, “Far From Home” (1994). If you really like Traffic’s music, consider purchasing some digital rights free mp3 albums by them on Amazon.com, or visit Apple music for Traffic in iTunes format.
Wikipedia says of the album presented here, Traffic:
In January 1968, after some initial success in Britain with their debut album Mr. Fantasy, Dave Mason had departed from the group. He produced the debut album by the group Family, containing in its ranks future Traffic bass player Ric Grech, while Traffic went on the road. In May, the band had invited Mason back to begin recording the new album.
Mason ended up writing and singing half of the songs on the album (including his biggest hit “Feelin’ Alright?”), but making scant contribution to the songs written by Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood. His flair for pop melody had always been at odds with the others’ jazz ambitions, evidenced by the dichotomy seen for the songs on this album, and by October he was again out of the band. He would return one more time for a tour and album in 1971 to run out the band’s contract.
Traffic was reissued for compact disc in the UK on 11 January 2000, with five bonus tracks, two from the soundtrack to the United Artists film Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and three from Last Exit. In the US, the remastered reissue of 27 February 2001 included mono single mixes of “You Can All Join In,” “Feelin’ Alright?,” and “Withering Tree.” The original album was produced by Jimmy Miller. The remasters were assisted in their production by Jim Capaldi.
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