...After disbanding in 1969, during which time Winwood joined Blind Faith, 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, although a partial reunion, with Winwood and Capaldi, took place in 1994...Read more
Traffic was a rock band from Birmingham, England, in the late 1960s and led by Steve Winwood, with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason, after Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group.
The four musicians often played at a club called The Elbow Room in Aston which is where the name 'Traffic' was conceived after observing passing cars. With Mason and Capaldi eager to form a new group, Winwood agreed to join the partnership along with Chris Wood and so the four members retreated to a secluded cottage in Aston Tirrold, Berkshire to rehearse and record their early work.
Their debut single was 1967's "Paper Sun", a UK hit. "Hole in My Shoe", the second single, was an even bigger hit, and set the stage for a rivalry between Winwood and Mason, the group's principal songwriters. Their debut album was Mr. Fantasy which, like the singles, was a hit in the UK but not in the US or elsewhere. Their second album, Traffic, was released in 1968. The band began touring the US, but Mason was fired and Winwood announced the band's break-up. Winwood formed Blind Faith but after that band split in 1969 he began working on a solo recording which eventually turned into another Traffic album, John Barleycorn Must Die, their most successful album yet.
After some personnel changes (including the return of Mason), Traffic released The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, an American hit that didn't chart in the UK. Once again, personnel problems wracked the band as Capaldi began a solo career. Still, Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory was another hit, as was When the Eagle Flies (1974 in music). Capaldi's solo career began to heat up, and Winwood finally launched one of his own, recording the smash hit album Arc of a Diver. Winwood's solo career peaked with the album Back in the High Life. Traffic did not record again until 1994, when they released Far From Home. After re-uniting, Capaldi and Winwood toured widely but were unable to regain their former stature.
Traffic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 2004.
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John Barleycorn Must Die (1970) UICY-93644 418MB
Times had changed by 1970 ... Dave Mason was off to a full solo career, Chris Wood had joined Ginger Baker's Airforce, and Capaldi was not so sure what he wanted to do, but had not yet decided to quit the drums and be a singer.
This is how this album begins, with only Stevie Winwood in the studio, having already penned a couple of songs -"Every Mothers Son" and, only included in this remastered version, "Sittin' Here Thinkin' of My Love"- and ready to record a solo album.
Anyway, that was the plan but was not what ended up happening. Instead, whatever the real reason was -several stories are told- soon enough Capaldi and Steve's brother, Chris Wood, joined him and this became Traffic third studio album.
Although Mason was gone -his contribution to Traffic's original sound and the two gems they recorded together can never be acknowledged enough- Winwood had enough music, feeling and ideas to carry the load and make "Barleycorn ..." a classic in its own right.
It can be said that although this is very much a Traffic album, it is more heavily dominated by Winwood's musical vision and playing than its predecessors.
There are two strong musical courses, running through Winwood's veins, coming naturally to a crossroads here, the ever-present Jazz/R&B that Winwood had been feeding off since the Spencer Davis Group's days, and his connection to the English Folk tradition.
Actually, when you think that it was recorded over thirty years ago, it is even a more astounding example of how "ahead-of -its-times" Traffic was and, even more conclusively, what a tremendous composer Winwood had already become at 22.
Traffic, as a whole, and this album in particular are, to this day, one of the beacons of popular music that has ever been recorded, even today.
2. Freedom Rider
3. Empty Pages
4. I Just Want To Know - bonus track
5. Stranger To Himself
6. John Barleycorn (Must Die)
7. Every Mother's Son
8. Sittin' Here Thinkin' Of My Love - bonus track
9. Backstage And Introduction [live] - bonus track
10. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring [live] - bonus track
11. Glad [live] - bonus track