George Starostin's Reviews



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First Last <> (11.08.99)

The most "boring" and "uninspired" rock band of all time?? Obviously, such a review comes from the most ignorant, indeed, unappreciative, critic of rock music. Perhaps you find being in your car stuck in "traffic" quite an inspiring situation. Stick to your class of music (the Cowsils???), and disappear.

[Special author note: well, I knew what I was risking with that intro paragraph. Personally, I find being in my car stuck in "traffic" quite a comparable situation to being stuck in Mr Fantasy. Anyway, let us hope the First is really the Last.]

Glenn Wiener <> (31.08.99)

Well, I bet you though that day was coming when I lambaste you about Traffic. The flute and saxophone sounds add a special flair to diversify the overall sound. Even the sitar sounds create have some merit. Rockers, ballads, and even some jazz man. On top of that these musicians can just flat out play. Whereas these are guys are not among my top 25 recording acts, I like their overall style. The rhythms that come from Jim Capaldi, Rebop, and Jim Gordon are mesmerizingly excellent.

Kevin Goldman <> (01.06.2000)

After reading the opening paragraph of your Traffic review: "Traffic holds my personal record as arguably The Most Boring Rock Band of All Time", "whenever I put on a Traffic record, be it their best or their worst, my expression always changes to gloomy and my mood to sleepy. Horrible, just horrible - not the music itself, rather the effect produced by any Traffic record as a whole". I really find myself unable to take the rest of your reviews seriously. From what you wrote I get the impression that you just don't like that _style_ of music, especially since you recognize the importance of Traffic in the late 60's music scene.

By the way, I am currently listening to 'Every Mother's Son' and I have no idea how you can even think that this is a rip off of a 'Like a Rolling Stone'?!?!??? If you are still confused, please look at the sheet music.

<> (14.11.2000)

Dude, you are welcome to your own opinions. I mean, hell, it's your website.

But I can't say I agree with them. Sure, some of their music sucked, but so what? Whatever you want to say about the band, say it, but Capaldi jams, and Chris Wood was a virtual god on the wind instruments. I made a complation tape of Traffic songs a few years ago and I have listened to it countless times. Funny, I never was bored wtih it once.

[Special author note: for the record, I could easily make myself a compilation tape of Traffic songs as well and would probably never have been bored with it either. Do we disagree?]

Brian Brennan <> (30.12.2000)

I appreciate some of your comments, because in the wrong mood, Traffic can certainly bring you down and start you wildly flipping throught the rest of your Album/CD collection for anything devoid of prog rock influences and not too many years backward into the psychedelic mire. No they never produced an Electric Ladyland, although Dave Mason did contribute substantially to that recording. And many of their songs now seem just plain silly if you run through their entire discography. But, much of their most memorable and truly affecting music was written under the influence of a conglomerate of mind-expanding drugs, and in the right frame of mind - will take you to a place altogether unfamiliar but strangely and seductively soothing. I'm thinking of "40,000 Headman", "Hidden Treasure", "Low Spark" and their underrated stoner anthems "Glad" and "Freedom Rider." from Barleycorn. I may have "dosed" a few too many times, but all these songs still remain unforgettable in my mind.

Kevin Baker <> (14.02.2001)

While Traffic is far from being a favorite of mine, and I dare say far from a great band, they're still a good band. Not being bored by jazzy woodwind experiments, I think Traffic is one the perfect "background" bands for doing homework or ridiculously LONG TAX FORMS YOU IRS SCUMBAGS I HOPE YOU ALL..... sorry. I just got carried away there. But Traffic does have a very unique vibe about them.  Maybe it's that woodwind fan part of me getting carried away, but I think they deserve a 2. Granted, I'd sooner kill myself than be stuck on a desert island with a Traffic album, but their uniqueness certainbly makes them worthy of a second (or third)) chance on your CD player and website. That said, I agree with your statement that John Barleycorn Must Die is horribly overrated. It's a good album, but in no way is it on a level the other great albums of the era.

Ronny Olsson <> (15.02.2001)

Oh dear! I've seen a lot of lousy websites during the years but this one is without doubt the worst! I can't understand how someone can do a website just to slag off a band like you have done with Traffic. What a waste of time! There are a lot of crap music I dislike but I would never do a website about it just to slag it off. And I don't give a damn about your opinions about Traffic. As I see it, Traffic is one of the best bands of all times. The members were great musicians and the band had an unique sound. I still like to listen to their excellent music.

Your site is nothing but an insult to Traffic fans all over the world. I would advise you to remove it and take out your frustrations about not being so successful as Steve Winwood or Jim Capaldi somewhere else. Why not run out on the street and bark after cars instead.

Joe <> (11.03.2001)

I think your comments on "Traffic" are tone deafness and frustration on your own part. You are trying to overanalyze and dissect music when you should merely try to keep an open mind and enjoy it. The level of pure enjoyment from an open mind  should be the rating. Not as you call the band's  : " tripping and pseudo-experimentation". What does that have to do with anything? By the way, your website is turgid and difficult to navigate.

[Special author note: oh boy, every possible cliche again. 'Dissecting music', 'tone deafness', 'level of pure enjoyment'... gee, it really gets boring. I dare say, though, that the site is not difficult enough to navigate so as to find out about the guidelines to comment writing - unless for Mr Joe, "difficult to navigate" means "having to follow a particular link at the very beginning of the page".]

<> (21.11.2001)

I believe that Traffic is one of the best rock bands ever. They have a very diverse and unique sound. Some of their music IS boring, but not all of it. Listen to Welcome to the Canteen, it kicks ass! They were so ahead of most bands of that era, and everyone is indeed intitled to thier own opinion.


Glenn Wiener <> (31.08.99)

The bands debut album gives the listener flashes of brilliance but not enough of a consistent effort. Different styles are explored and the sounds from the sitar, harpsichord, saxophone, etc.. are all quite unique. Especially during the time it was recorded. The problem here is that the song-writing lacks development. 'Utterly Simple' offers some pleasing sitar lines, but most listeners will quickly be turned off by it as a musical piece because it lacks a melody. The other Mason tunes although a bit better, are somewhat lacking of the same traits. I disagree with you about 'Dealer' though. This is a great piece of music as the blend between the flute, percussion, sitar, and even the vocals creates a special mood that takes me to a far away mystical place. Possibly the best track on the record, although 'Dear Mr. Fantasy' and 'No Face No Name and No Number' are in the same category. Some of the jams should be developed a little more but overall this is a strong debut with better things to come.

Ted Goodwin <> (30.04.2000)

Even speaking as a Traffic fan I'd say this album is often overrated. Still, I don't think it's as bad as you say. My favorites are "Coloured Rain" and "Dealer" (on which Capaldi possibly sounds better than on most of what he's sung since). "Utterly Simple" is the worst on the album (possibly the worst Traffic song ever), and, strangely, this was the 2nd time Traffic recorded it! (The 1st time was for a movie soundtrack.)

The really weird thing about this album is that there were FOUR versions of it. The version we know today is the "UK stereo" version. There was also the "US stereo" version and the original, very short-lived "UK mono" and "US mono" versions. OK, now, let me see if I can explain this succinctly:

Differences between "UK" & "US": "US" (which many fans consider better than "UK") had a totally different cover that presented Traffic as a 3-piece (and didn't account for Mason's contributions to the music at all). "Utterly Simple" & "Hope I Never Find Me There" were dropped, 3 songs from UK singles were added, and the song order was radically changed.

THEN we have differences between "stereo" & "mono" (besides the obvious). "Heaven Is In Your Mind" & "Dealer" were substantially different (the latter being actually better) in the earlier mono versions. "Giving To You", on "US mono", was minus the beginning/ending "jive talk" and had a few lines of vocals at the beginning. A THIRD version of "Giving", on "UK mono", had the jive talk but it was somewhat different.

Confused yet? And this is a SIMPLIFIED description of the differences. (Whose idea was all this "version" nonsense, anyway?)

Anyway, a recent reissue of Mr. Fantasy included both the "UK stereo" & "US mono" versions. The only never-on-CD-rarity-thingie that currently remains from the 4 versions is the UK-mono "Giving" with the different jive talk. (Big deal.)

mjcarney <> (26.08.2000)

Wow, I guess you really don't like this band, and really dislike this album (I haven't read all of your comments though).  I would agree with your one star rating on Traffic--I feel they are a relic of their time, but I must disagree with your review here.  Sure, you gave the LP a 7/10, but reading your commentary it seems like you wanted to give it a 3 or a 4 tops.  I feel that by doing this, you are definately doing this album some injustice (sorry the best word I could think of).  Sure there are some poor/boring songs--most notably with the terrible "Utterly Simple"--which showcases one of the worst uses of sitar on a rock song ever! Another poor track is "Dealer"--it just doesn't do ANYTHING for me.  But the rest is alright, and the highlights are terrific.  "Heaven is in your Mind" opens the album with one of the most unique choruses ever coupled with some cool musical backdrops.  "Berkshire Poppies" is very British, and a strong highlight.  It sounds very whimsical--Syd Barrett ish, and works reallly well.  My personal favorite on the disc is one which you really hate.  It is "House for Everyone".  I just love the whimsy feel on here, coupled with some great sound effects, brilliant moody lyrics.  I mean the music-box sound which opens the song is brilliant in and of itself, but when you add some good songwriting to it, it makes the song better.  I can see where the whimsy on this one can get be a little too much(I felt the same way for a while until it grew on me), but it is still my personal favorite on here and one of their better songs.  Finally, the last two highlights are "No Face, No Name, and No Number" and "Mr. Fantasy".  These two songs sound like "classic" Traffic--by classic I mean their typical "I feel allright"etc style.  They are pretty good, "Mr Fantasy" being my personal favorite of the two, but I much prefer their pyschedelic dabblings to their slow/bluesy/moody pieces.  Overall though, this album is pretty good.  I would rate it a 7.5/10. On good days it might get an 8/10, but I can't rate it that high-- just because I haven't listened to it in a while(4-5 months).  Still though of the Traffic I have heard this is my personal favorite disc--I have heard their 4 popular ones (this, JBMD, LSHHB, IFA).  The band clearly lost something when Mason left--or maybe its just because pysechedellic music was long gone by that point.  But simply if you are looking for a rather interesting and above average addition to your pyschedellic music collection, then check this album out in a heartbeat.  It might not be the best album you've ever heard, but it ain't too shabby either.

<> (03.02.2001)

First of all I have the American version of this called Heaven Is In Your Mind which has the same tracks but a different order. That said their are some great songs on here, I really like 'Paper Sun', 'Heaven Is In Your Mind' and 'Hole In My Shoe', 'No Face, No Name, No Number' is also a stand out track, I love the simple melody and the use of wood winds. Unfortunately they screw up some great songs to be "Experimental for the sake of Experimenting" and fail miserably. A prime example of this is 'Berkshire Poppies', I mean what a waste of a great song, if they had worked on a melody it could have been my favorite song, the refrain is pretty nice, you know the "day in the city/oh what a pity" but its not long enough to save the song, a complete disaster. This is a very mixed album but still worth picking up I'd give it an overall 9 because there are parts on this album that make me want to find Steve Winwood and kick him in the balls, then I find a moment of beauty and I can forgive him.

David Goodwin <> (04.09.2001)

I just got this album, so I don't yet have much to add (however, being a Barrett appreciator, I do like 'House for Everyone', and 'Dealer' is also my kind of thing).

However, in the arena of "Look how much a radically re-arranged cover version can change the qualiyt of a song," the Smoke's cover of 'Utterly Simple' transforms a piece of tuneless tripe into one of the best songs they ever did. Amazing what addings hooks and melody can do! (the Smoke are chiefly known for 'My Friend Jack', and 'Utterly Simple' was unreleased during their existence, only popping up on some later compilations...they're great, though, so it's worth tracking down).

Bob Josef <> (20.01.2002)

The Beatles succeeded at psychedelic music because they had their songwriting chops down before they started adding trippy lyrics and sound effects. And that's the problem with the first Traffic album -- they're not consistent writers, at least not yet. Which is why we get such silly filler as "Giving to You," "Utterly Simple," "Berkshire Poppies" (sorry, I find that track very annoying) and the second Traffic single, Mason's "Hole in Your Shoe" (which features an even more embarrassing sitar line than "Utterly Simple," believe it or not.), which was not included here.

But when they got it right, they did some beautiful music. I like "Dealer" a bit better than I used to, but it's rather diffuse; and "No Face, No Name, No Number" would be better if it didn't crawl along at a snail's pace. But "Heaven is In Your Mind," "Coloured Rain" and the title track are great, far more coherent pop songs which do capture the 1967 vibe well. And the first Traffic single, "Paper Sun," really should have been included here -- it's better than any song on the album. This is the only Traffic song where Mason's sitar works, complimenting perfectly Capaldi's whimsical fantasy lyrics and Winwood's voice and melody. "Smiling Phases," the "Hole in My Shoe" B-side, is a lot better than its flip, a strong R&B workout. Including it and "Paper Sun" would have bumped the album a couple of points. But as it stands, the album's missteps sort of cancel out it strengths.

Darren Finizio <> (18.08.2003)

i really adore this album and its kind of disturbing to read your review,but then all of your reviews are rather disturbing in that they only reveal your peculiar values and nothing else....i've always kept things open,what i don't like i may not understand and may come to love later...i can't understand the ideology of good,better,best...its rather sad and it makes me start to think that you might be better off picking up an instrument and playing it...oh,i forgot,you hate jazz:something,i feel, we americans should proudly call our own...all your talk of "hooks" and catchiness and self-indulgent is the kind of drivel that only a non-musician could use which is the prime reason i can't take your reviews've been listening to too much crap,the type that critics have been churning out for simply don't understand alot of things,like why musicians would want to stop singing a pop song and jam on their instruments (yes i was thinking of your "low sparks"review)..when you criticized my favorite song on the first and immaculate family album as being too dissonant i realised i was reading the reviews of a left-brainer,an aesthetic sophmore...its ashame you put so much work into all of this and everything is layed out so nicely...your condenscesion towards artists is arrogant and would be far more noble to be turned on by some sounds and share that with the public rather than try to be the next robert cristgau...stevie windwoods guitar playing sounds fine on "low spark",you on the other hand sound seriously limited/judgemental are not a music lover,your an intolerant and unappreciative whiner:i thank god that there are unassuming people in this world who listen to music with their hearts and their souls not their minds...


Ted Goodwin <> (30.04.2000)

I agree that this is Traffic's best album (although many Traffic/Winwood fans say John Barleycorn Must Die is their best -- I can just imagine what you'd say to THAT). I can't even seriously pick out favorites or least favorites -- the whole dang thing is good. This is certainly where Mason justified his presence in the band. (Mason had already left and come back at least once by this time.) I like the last 2 songs just fine (Chris' lonely sax on "No Time To Live" is AWESOME), although I have to admit that Jim's lyrics -- as on many Traffic songs to come -- were such that Steve couldn't really work with them, so he had to work against them instead.

I'd just like to note that it's Dave, not Steve, who's responsible for "Don't Be Sad". (A lot of Winwood fans think -- quite understandably -- that Steve sings the middle part of the song, but the credits say Dave does the whole lead vocal. Besides, the resemblance to Steve is more in the style than the actual voice, and given the dynamics of the personalities involved there ain't no WAY Steve would have sung lead on a Dave song.)

Glenn Wiener <> (23.01.2002)

Easily Traffic's most focused release if not their best. The songs do not extend themselves like the numbers on John Barley Corn and Low Spark. This CD does come close to the level of the previously mentioned CD's. However the near perfect side 1 of John Barley Corn and several tracks on Low Spark are noticeably more polished than the best tracks on this self titled release. None the less, David Mason's songwriting is what elevates this release ahead of the Mr. Fantasy. 'Crying To Be Heard' to my ears is one beautiful song. The vocal arrangement between Steve and Dave on the final verse is truly beautiful. Heck this song is one of Traffic's most introspective numbers. Probably the best track on the album although there are several other strong numbers. A few tracks have some moments that drag but overall this is a solid release. Your review is certainly on the money.

Bob Josef <> (28.01.2002)

Much better than the first one, definitely, although we disagree with the reasons. Mason certainly hit his peak as a songwriter. He discovered the difference between childish ("Hole in My Shoe," "Utterly Simple") and childlike with the delightful "You Can All Join" and the more mysterious "Vagabond Virgin." I really like Steve's high harmonies there, as well on "Feeling Alright?" -- you really don't get to hear him sing harmonies as opposed to leads otherwise. "40,000 Headmen" is also a pretty neat spooky tune -- Steve's best contribution -- but I think "Pearly Queen" and "No Time to Live" are rather ordinary R&B that he could have done earlier with the Spencer Davis Group. Still, I would tend to agree that this has to be Traffic's best overall album.

James Hitt, Jr. <> (29.06.2002)

I more or less agree with George about this album. It is rather boring, at least for me the first few times I listened to it. I put it aside for a few weeks after I bought it, and decided to give it another try, and it was worth it. It is a jamming album. Maybe not a masterpiece, but most certainly not offensive or repulsive in the least. "Glad" is quite a fun song with some real neat sax lines, and the piano sounds great. "Freedom Riders" likewise has some odd jazzy piano and sax playing, but not inaccessible at all. The vocal melodies are nice as well. I suppose this album can be summed up in being . . . not mediocre . . . but, just quite GOOD. Ha ha ha, I suppose this comment was not too vital, since I basically restated the same opinion as George, but oh well. I suppose one could just look at it as verification of his opinion as not being atypical, maybe?


Ted Goodwin <> (19.07.2000)

Well, I'm surprised that you reviewed this and pleased that you like the first half as much as you do.

A little background the various tracks: "Just For You" was originally released as a Dave Mason solo B-side in 1968, when he was out of the band the 1st time (between MR. FANTASY and TRAFFIC). It happens to feature Wood, Capaldi and possibly Winwood, and thus could conveniently be passed off as actual "Traffic" so as to add 2-1/2 minutes to this very short album. "Shanghai" & "Medicated" were new (as in post-TRAFFIC) tracks, the former recorded before Mason left (the 2nd time) and the latter after. "Withering" was previously released as the B-side to "Feelin' Alright". I believe the live stuff was recorded after Mason left the 1st time. I have no idea whence came "Something's", but besides being fun it's unique in being an actual collaboration between Winwood and Mason.

No one, including Traffic fans, seems to have a fondness for the two live tracks. I can't really defend them, but I have nothing against them myself except for that horrendous mix. These songs (or more precisely Traffic's arrangements thereof, which must have sounded almost nothing like the originals) were an integral part of the early Traffic's live repertoire, so I'm personally glad they got released in some legal form.

Although I think "Shanghai" pales next to virtually all of TRAFFIC, I applaud your assessment of it; never before had I thought of this song as having an actual MEANING. But I have to disagree with you on "Withering". Not only is it atmospheric and moody, but I think it's VERY original and distinguishable. (My only complaint is that "trees in the arms of eternity" is an awkward line to have as a lyrical climax; here as in many other cases, Capaldi's lyrics sound to me like they needed one more revision before being put out there. Actually, I suspect the problem was that Capaldi wasn't in the habit of making ANY revisions.) For me the most skip-over-able track is "Medicated" -- it's fun, but not all that interesting.

Funny you should propose adding the LAST EXIT singles to TRAFFIC, because a recent remaster of TRAFFIC did just that.


Glenn Wiener <> (31.08.99)

In my book, this is a MUST HAVE RECORDING. The mix between the instruments is at an all time high as Jim Capaldi contributes some excellent drumming and Chris Wood's brass embellishments are just beautiful. 'Glad' is probably one of my Top 5 instrumental pieces. The opening piano riff is catchy but the closing piano sounds are just as pretty as it creates a moody introspective heir. The only minor drawback is that just Steve Windowed sings on this record. Capaldi contributed some nice vocals on 'Dealer', 'Rock N Roll Stew', and 'Light Up Or Leave Me Alone' on other Traffic recordings. However, this is just a minor beef. I rate this work a 13 or even a 14 on your scale.

Since you do not have Low Spark Of Hi Heel Boys, I'll take the time to say that its another excellent recording probably worthy of about a 12. That is the album Rebop made his debut and his percussion contributions are worth noting. Like John Barley Corn, this album is a bit long and drags a little more than its predecessor. However, its excellent music especially when compared with what is considered jazz in the nineties. [This comment was indeed mailed before I reviewed that album - G.S.]

Anne <> (14.03.2000)

John Barleycorn Must Die is my favorite album of all time. You just have bad taste! :-} [And you just have a laconic disease. :-) - G.S.]

Ted Goodwin <> (30.04.2000)

There's an awful lot of people who love this album, and I'm among them. I guess it depends what you're looking for. Like virtually all Traffic albums it's not big on lyrical content, for one thing. But I have a hard time seeing "Freedom Rider" and "Empty Pages" as anything but great songs. The former, especially, has awesome chords to it, and seeing an online chord chart of the song just increased my admiration for it. I like all of "Glad", although it must have sounded a lot more original in 1970 than it does now. My favorite on the album is "Every Mother's Son", whatever you or anyone else may think of those long Traffic instrumental breaks.

Michael Roelofs <> (09.07.2000)

I agree with Glenn's assessment that Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die is a "must have."  This is the record that made me a fan of the band.  My take on the this album is about 180 degrees different from yours; for example:

"...The band sounds uninspired most of the time, spitting out the sounds as if it were a casual routine job and nothing more: the piano, organ and sax solos aren't interesting either technically or emotionally..."

Huh?  Wow.  For me John Barleycorn... is one, big inspired groove.  That's what I like about it; it does indeed sound "casual" as you put it.  But, that's a big part of its appeal for me personally.  It's not about technical flash, or "hooks;" it's about finding that particular, meaty, groove and sucking you into it.  The best example of this is the opener "Glad" - my favorite track on this album.

This might be a bad analogy, but ...Barleycorn... is a little like Dylan's Blonde on Blonde in that respect - it doesn't grab you by the `nads; rather, you conform to it, and grow an appreciation for it (or you don't, as in your case.)

Oh well, I guess that pretty much sums it up for me - it does rely heavily on a particular mood to make it work, and if that's not one's "cup of cider," it could be hard to appreciate this record. I really do like JBMD more that its predecessors - both initially, and on a long-term basis. This one still sees regular rotation in my CD player - the others don't. 

Glenn Wiener <> (14.07.2000)

Its good that you have had a change of heart on this recording. I think you are first beginning to appreciate the strong points in this collection. Still its hard to really compare this record to Paul McCartney's music as the styles do differ greatly. Paul McCartney's focus was short focused song-writing while Traffic's focus was casual rock/jazz jams. Although I appreciate JBCMD more than you, your opinion is more balanced in this re-write.

Dareell <> (07.05.2001)

It works for me after six beers and half a bag of pot,this record is a snooze fest sober.I myself pefer a little willie nelson.

Federico Marcon <> (05.09.2001)

Dear George,

you wrote in your review : " this could just as well be called a Winwood solo album. Wood and Capaldi make some contributions, but the song authorship and basic playing is all courtesy of Stevie; Wood and Capaldi did play something on the record, but for the most part it's just a one-man recording, with Winwood handling all the keyboards, guitars and - much too often - all the brass and percussion as well."

I have the remastered edition of this album and according to the notes, it seems that Wood and Capaldi did something more than "something".And all the songs, including the bonus tracks, are credited Windwood-Capaldi, apart for "Glad" credited only to Windwood.The fact the songs are credited also to Capaldi doesn' t necessarily mean that Capaldi contributed in the songwriting ( "I' M The Walrus" is credited also to Paul but you know it was written by John ), but it' s a bit strange this fact, because Stevie had always been credited for his "solo" songs, so if here also Capaldi is mentioned, I think he did something. Hi!


P.S. Stevie' s voice RULES!!!!!!!

Anthony Stewart <> (04.12.2005)

I just have to laugh at your summing up of Traffic, george. It is so perfect. They do that to me too. Worse than Traffic IMo is Clapton. One word: yawn...

But JBMD is a good album. I LOVE "Every Mother's Son" and I do not hear the organ line from "Like a Rolling Stone". I particlularly love the jam at the end. My main point though: on the very first Supergrass album (I Shoul Coco) a GREAT band btw, the last song is called "Sofa". They do an almost identical jam on that song. I can not help but think that they used EMS as inspiration for it.


Ted Goodwin <> (26.04.2000)

Yeah, this is a pretty decent live album. I think it's a stretch to say it's better than their studio albums, but then you and I don't agree on much that's Traffic-related anyway.

Traffic actually played concerts as a three-piece most of the time until 1970 (with Steve usually doing both organ & bass pedals while singing, as on the live side of Last Exit). The band on Canteen wasn't just meant to be the live band -- with the inevitable exception of Mason they were all on the next studio release.

I'd say "Dear Mr. Fantasy" (which you described nicely) is the best song on this one. "Medicated Goo" is pretty fun, too, and it's not hurt much by Steve's inability to remember most of the lyrics (I don't think he ever sang this one anywhere near correctly again after studio-recording it). But to me "40,000 Headmen" sounds like they're going "We can't stop this one until it's 6 minutes long... not yet... almost... OK, time's up." And "Gimme Some Lovin'" is just a mess here. Dave's rhythm guitar screw-up somewhere near the middle is especially embarrassing. And then the record company (UA in the U.S.) puts this track on a single (in 2 parts) and a compilation! (I think Traffic was on the outs with them anyway by this time.)


Glenn Wiener <> (01.03.2000)

Glad you got around to reviewing this disc. As previously stated, I enjoy this one very much as the jamming does not bother me. The guys just add some minor effects with the repeats of the major theme with the three songs you don't particularly like. Not everyone can appreciate those extras touches but to me its fine. I believe its Jim Capaldi singing 'Rock N Roll Stew' as the voice is similar to 'Light Up Or Leave Me Alone'. I could be mistaken. None the less the drum work is pretty phenomenal on this disc. Even though we disagree on Traffic, I feel your reviews of them are among the most amusing on your site.

Ted Goodwin <> (02.03.2000)

I have a bit of a hard time knowing what to think of this one. I think I like the individual songs better than what they add up to. I actually like the excessive, pointless jamming on a lot of Traffic songs, but I have to agree that it takes up too much of this album's space. Even the relatively short "Light Up" goes on too long (though its length here is nothing compared to the excess of the ON THE ROAD version). "Rock & Roll Stew" started out being too long -- at least 6-1/2 minutes -- but on the album it was faded out at 4:19 and the extended mindless jamming was relegated to a single B-side. That is definitely Capaldi singing "Stew", by the way -- possibly the best vocal of his career. I originally had no idea it was him because the singing sounded so different from "Light Up". I've heard the entire title track on the radio many times, never an edited version (though there was a single edit released). My favorite track: "Rainmaker" (can't really tell you why, though). Some bonus trivia: The lyrics on "Many A Mile" are not by Jim Capaldi but by one ANNA Capaldi (his wife at the time, I guess).

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (01.10.2000)

Yes, the title song to this (which I find admirably free-form and generally across-the-board brilliant, though the talented Jim Gordon is not quite a jazz drummer) definitely was played in its entirety on American radio in the early '70s, at least in New York, as were things like Dylan's "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," Hendrix's "1983," Genesis' "Firth of Fifth," Renaissance's "Ashes Are Burning," and many long Zappa and Mothers tracks. It's pretty clear that Winwood and Traffic don't grab you all that much, so I won't bore you with objections. (You are aware, though, that Barleycorn in fact started as a Winwood solo album, with him deciding to call the other guys back halfway through?) I think you'll take a lot of heat for calling Mason a better lead guitarist than Winwood; if Mason's ever played a solo as smart and beautiful as the one on "Many a Mile to Freedom" (possibly my favorite Traffic song ever, along with "Freedom Rider"), I sure ain't heard it! And I also don't get the denigration of Capaldi's words. They're not Dylan but they're generally highly evocative and sincere, somewhat reminiscent of certain songs by Spirit. (The words to "Fresh Garbage" could've been on a Traffic cut and those to "Stranger to Himself" on a Spirit cut.) Want proof? Check some of the lesser words on Winwood solo albums, then see how Capaldi livens things up on the Far From Home album decades later. And while you're not the first person to lose interest in this band when they settled into the jamming mode (that distinction goes to Dave Mason, who was often quoted to that effect in those days), I find it funny that the one song here that even big Traffic fans like me think kind of goes on a bit to no point -- "Rock 'n' Roll Stew" -- you think really works. (Have to admit, it does have more good, gutsy guitar work from Winwood, and Capaldi's vocal is great.)

Kevin <> (18.12.2000)

Hello Im a 17 year old male who has grown up with classic rock all my life. I have abandoned modern rock music for there lack of creativity and easy 4 chord progression's that put me to sleep.

I have read lots of your reviews and for the most part agree with you. I thought your review of the beatles Abby Road was very well stated. The only thing that i have a problem with is your reviews of Traffic albulms. I really feel that Traffic is a unique band with it's own brand of pop/jazz music that really hasn't been duplicated.

To say that John Barlycorn must die isn't a classic is like turning your back on the foundation of rock music. winwoods finger picking style and quick Chord progression's make the song work and flow. Although the flute is just copying the guitar riff over again, it makes for a great sound.

I really differed with your opinion of the Albulm low spark of high heeled boys I mean if you listen to all that shit they put out with Dave Mason in the band, like the entire Dear Mr. Fantasy albulm then you can see he is not needed. There weird Sitare and off beat percussion's where not something that i enjoyed, and the Albulm Low Spark sounded so controlled to me.

I agree that Winwood lacked the abilty to solo all that well and he isn't a steller guitar player. But he is a amazing muscian, and they wheren't one of those hard core rock bands out to blow your mind with amazing guitar solo's. They had that Jazz sound and Sax's solo's things that not a real lot of pop bands brought to the table. I feel that, that part of the band is at least worth noteing.

Not to mention that the song 'Low spark of high heeled boys' is absolutly great. I mean the lyrics bring out this clash between good and evil with a beaten man trying to express his desire's to go on. The melody's where very catchy and i really feel it was a great song.


Ted Goodwin <> (18.04.2000)

Frankly, even most Traffic fans aren't sure what to make of this album. The title track is the best, without question, but the rest is more problematic. Personally I found that "Roll Right Stones", "Evening Blue" & "Tragic Magic" sounded less dull and awkward, and more enjoyable, once I'd gotten familiar with their twisted little paths. "Roll" may seem overlong at about 11:45, but in fact the song was 2 minutes longer on the original (semi-rare & never on CD) U.S. release of the album. I think of the song as one that just takes its time getting where it's going (it hits the 2nd verse at around 5:20, for example) and for that reason the shorter, generally available version is still "too short" for me. "Uninspired" I just really don't like (although for some reason I like live versions of it I've heard). To me the music is dull (even by the standards of one to whom the most mindless Traffic music is interesting) and the words (wherein Capaldi is at his most trying-to-say-something-but-saying-nothing) sound like they should lead to some sort of conclusion but never do, least of all at the end of the song.

P.S. (9/2003): The 2003 Remaster of SHOOT OUT restores the missing 2 minutes to the end of "Roll Right Stones". It also restores a little bit to the end of "Uninspired" that I hadn't noticed was missing. For some strange reason none of this is pointed out in the liner notes or anywhere else I'm aware of.


Ted Goodwin <> (02.03.2000)

I disagree with most of your assessment of Traffic, although I at least understand it in the context of your musical tastes. But I do beg to differ about Eagle being "even worse" than Shoot Out. Shoot Out was Traffic's lamest album, period, although being a Traffic fan I still like most of it. In my opinion Eagle is twice as good as Shoot Out. "Graveyard People" is one of my favorite songs musically, Traffic or otherwise. I must admit, though, that Capaldi's lyrics make me wish the album didn't include a lyrics sheet -- I'd rather have vaguely wondered what Steve was saying than to have actually found out, especially on the title track (where he strangely, but appropriately, treats the lyrics with the disrespect they deserve).

P.S.: Do yourself, and Traffic fans, a favor and don't review Last Exit or On The Road.

David Albert <> (08.08.2000)

I don`t get what`s so bad about When The Eagle Flies. I value it as a good "farewell-album" and I like every song, there is no weak one, maybe "Dream Gerrard" is a bit too long, but includes great solos, too. What is so bad about "Love", a quite impressive song, just as "Memories Of A Rock`n`Rolla" or the title track and the rest of the song. Beautiful melodies and decent arrangements. "Something New" is a solid rock song. I mean there are no genius moments there, but all in all a rating of 9 would fit !

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (01.10.2000)

Okay, definitely a typical last album, but it still has its moments, including the ones you mentioned. I still don't understand the gripe about Capaldi's words, which I particularly like for "Graveyard People" and "Walking in the Wind" (that last possibly the final Traffic classic, and I think the long slow fade perfectly fits the mood). And anyone who can listen to Winwood's heartbreaking vocal on that brilliantly zen-rock last verse of "Memories..." without being deeply moved can't be much of a rock 'n' rolla himself!

Memo to George: The Stones "I Got the Blues" is an almost perfect combo rip of Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long" and "Try a Little Tenderness." "Memories of a Rock 'n Rolla," by contrast, is much less derivative because Winwood has a more musically sophisticated grasp of American R&B than anybody who was ever in the Stones (though Ian Stewart might come close) thanks to his mastery of piano chords. (Ray Charles was one of his idols, y'know.) Check out old Hendrix interviews for more on Winwood's credentials as an R&B/blues/jazz-influenced keyboard player.


Ted Goodwin <> (30.04.2000)

This falls in the category of "albums I like for some reason even though I would never claim that they're particularly good". It's better than a lot of Mr. Winwood's solo stuff, but in many places I find myself thinking "Steve, I KNOW you can do better than that". At least Capaldi's lyrics are no worse than ever. Oddly, my two least favorite tracks are ones you said good things about. As much as I actually like the longer tracks and the grooves they get into, "Holy Ground" is just not something I care to spend 8 minutes listening to. And the lyrics to "Some Kinda Woman" really need some fire and passion to hold them up, but Steve makes them utterly toothless. (There is a CD-single remix version of the song, though, that manages to bring some fun out of it.)

That said, I enjoy "Riding High", "This Train Won't Stop", and, yes, even the whole ridiculous 8-1/2 minutes of the title track. Also "Mozambique", although I would have liked to have heard less formula and more stretching out on that one.

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