...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.
Mr Fantasy (1967) UICY-93640 210MB
Mr. Fantasy is a fantastic piece of arty, psychedelic rock. Apart from the sitar-by-numbers of ‘Utterly Simple’ (George Harrison, it ain’t) and the instrumental ‘Giving to You’, everyone’s a winner. Even the bizarre, crowbarred-in psychedelic-pop of ‘House For Everyone’.
Produced by Rolling Stones regular, Jimmy Miller, Mr. Fantasy kicks off in fine style with the dramatic ‘Heaven is in Your Mind’ and then slips effortlessly into the knockabout music hall sing-along of ‘Berkshire Poppies’, featuring the Small Faces on backing vocal and general horsing about duties. Elsewhere, the aching loss of ‘No Face, No Name, No Number’, the titular phased and fuzzed-up freakout ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ and the sinister ‘Dealer’, all score top marks.
By the time the album was released in December of 1967, Mason had left the band following internal strife regarding the direction they were taking - He was for the more whimsical approach as apparent on his songs ‘House For Everyone’, ‘Utterly Simple’ and ‘Hope I Never Find Me There’, whereas the rest of the band were pursuing a much harder edged sound. He rejoined in time for the second album, which rejected psychedelia in favour of a more mainstream, slightly progressive feel. A progressive feel that would bear fruit on the following two albums, John Barleycorn Must Die and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.
The Island remastered release of Mr. Fantasy also features a mono version of the original album with a slightly amended track listing and the singles, ‘Paper Sun’ and the LSD spiked imagery of ‘Hole in my Shoe’ as bonus tracks.
All in all a solid blast of psychedelic rock, injected with a sense of a fun that was notably absent from later, more serious Traffic recordings.
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MANY THX TO THE ORIGINAL RELEASER
1. Heaven Is In Your Mind
2. Berkshire Poppies
3. House For Everyone
4. No Face, No Name, No Number
5. Dear Mr. Fantasy
7. Utterly Simple
8. Coloured Rain
9. Hope I Never Find Me There
10. Giving To You
Bonus tracks [mono single mixes]:
11. Paper Sun
12. Giving to You
13. Hole in My Shoe
14. Smiling Phases
15. Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush