Traffic is one of those bands I’ve come at bass-ackwards, being way too familiar with their jazz rock reunion iteration and not very familiar with the original psychedelic rock band. It’s a stupid way of approaching any band, but particularly one that changed its identity as much as as Traffic did.
That makes sense because Dave Mason is a presence on these records and wasn’t on the later ones. And everyone else is that much younger and, well, not wiser that’s for sure.
Though this record is full of what you might expect from peak psychedelia – horns, harpsichords, gang vocals, spoken word, sitar, tamboura – there is a pretty big problem, which is a distinct lack of songs. Its’ not that the songs are bad – they’re so-so – but rather that that it’s clearly the arrangements we’re supposed to impressed by. Winwood, who has been known to write the odd compelling song, has not provided much here. And it looks as though I don’t love Dave Mason’s songs (at least this early in his career). The title track is far and away the most compelling and memorable thing here, and they decided to stretch out because… I don’t know; a lack of material? they like to jam? who knows.
Maybe with enough listens I could get past the ornaments and hear something more in the songs but, for me, the songs are not there.
But, that being said, the arrangements are out there and interesting enough. And Traffic had the distinction of being one of the first rock bands to employ a wind player (other than a saxophonist) which gives the band a different flair.
It’s fine but better songs would make it much better.
- “Heaven Is in Your Mind” by Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood; 4:16
- “Berkshire Poppies” by Capaldi, Winwood, Wood;2:55
- “House for Everyone” by Dave Mason; 2:05
- “No Face, No Name, No Number” by Capaldi, Winwood; 3:35
- “Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Capaldi, Winwood, Wood; 5:44
- “Dealer” by Capaldi, Winwood; 3:34
- “Utterly Simple” by Mason 3:16
- “Coloured Rain” by Capaldi, Winwood, Wood; 2:43
- “Hope I Never Find Me There” by Mason; 2:12
- “Giving to You” (album version) by Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood; 4:20
- Jim Capaldi – drums, percussion, vocals, lyrics
- Dave Mason – guitar, mellotron, sitar, tambura, harmonica, percussion, bass guitar on “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Dealer”, vocals
- Steve Winwood – organ, guitar, bass guitar, piano, harpsichord, percussion, vocals, arrangements
- Chris Wood – flute, saxophone, organ, percussion, vocals, sleeve design