44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2011
This album found the Traffic trio of Winwood, Capaldi and Wood at their creative best and represents a peak in their musicianship as three players whose chemistry really found it's collective muse here post their initial disbandment. For me, not only is this one of the best albums of it's era but it's one of the best of any era.The re-mastering on the first disc of the original John Barleycorn album re-release does a great job of seperating the instruments and the clarity of Chris Wood's flute and sax and Steve Winwood's guitar, piano and organ work really does provide a new dimension for the stand out tracks within this fine album. It has always been a really innovative piece of work with Glad merging mellifluously into Freedom Rider as the opening two tracks but some of the bass muddiness on the original release has been overcome here particularly on Empty Pages and Every Mother's Son.Steve Winwood's virtuoso organ playing on the latter has never sounded better than it does here in a travel song that takes you on a real musical journey with lyrics that match the quality of musicianship "The back door to the universe, That old moon dust..." "Stranger to Himself" features excellent lead guitar work by SW which sounds better than ever. As for the title track itself, these three guys could be playing in your living room the sound is that good and it's a great version of the traditional English folk song with outstanding acoustic guitar and vocals from Steve and Jim Capaldi with flute work by Chris Wood that is quite exquisite.The Berkshire Downs and Cotswolds countryside permeates through the music as a tangible influence upon the sound created between the three players.
It's great to have the Traffic Live material from November 1970 on disc two,when Ric Grech joined the others having recently left Blind Faith along with Steve Winwood, although the sound quality here is not as sharp as the Studio re-master but that's probably to be expected from a concert that was recorded 40 years ago. Some good alternate versions & mix tracks accompanying the live material.
All in all an excellent package and a job well done here in this release. Cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness that Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi are no longer with us but that must be some jam they are playing up there bringing that high spark to the wild blue yonder.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2004
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2011
Well anyone who loves this album obviously won`t be disappointed. What makes this DeLuxe Edition the business is that we have the LP on one disc & all of the extra tracks on disc 2. So you can listen to the album or the extras. Manufacturers take note. This is the way to make a DeLuxe Edition. Oh you won`t be disappointed by the extra tracks either.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2011
I would hate myself if I would sound as someone who has the intention to let down this most excellent edition of so dear album to all of us. My comments regard the second disc i.e.. Fillmore East concert. The tape was in circulation among collectors for ages so a lot of Traffic fans knew it very well, including myself, and it was hard to imagine the reasons to exclude five tracks from the concert tape: Pearly Queen, Heaven Is In Your Mind, John Barleycorn, Means To An End and Dear Mr. Fantasy, all great performances. The whole concert lasts around 70 minutes, so it would fit the second disc, while the outtakes could fill the first disc that lasts mere 35 minutes. Something else bothers me even more: two live tracks were "shorten" about one minute each, in both cases some solos were cut short which is really a shame because I could not find the reason for that.
Again, I love Barleycorn-era Traffic and I would recommend everyone to treasure their every album, including this edition, but I could not help myself not to mention this.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2011
I first purchased this album way back when it was first released. The music was excellent but you could not say the same about the pressings in Australia. I've had two pressings over the years and the sound quality was non existent. Other people that I know who owned the record agreed that the Australian pressings were lousy. So it is rather remarkable how clear and vibrant this remastered cd release is (and the bonus extras are superb, especially the alternate version of the title track). Five of the tracks also appeared on the "Chronicles" box set some years ago and these were also a big improvement. Highly recommended.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2004
The original 1970 disc "John Barleycorn Must Die" is one of those albums that marks the end of Sixties music for me and I have always thought of "Glad" as the song that really allowed Traffic to justify their name and really jam. I truly cannot think of a better instrumental number from this period (the end of "Layla" does not count). Having a live version of this song as a bonus track on this reissue CD really hammers that point home, especially listening to Chris Wood on Electric Sax. The most amazing thing about this album is that while you have the opening track "Glad," perhaps the best example of jazz influence in rock and roll, you also have the mournful folk ballade "John Barleycorn," with the voices of Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi entwined over and around an acoustic guitar. You would swear these songs had to come from different albums. This time around the band takes the time to explore their songs, with four of the songs lasting longer than six minutes; in 1970 this was really considered pushing the envelope. The other thing that strikes me about Traffic is that they really knew how to start a song, especially on "Glad," "Stranger to Himself," and "John Barleycorn." The pair of bonus tracks ("I Just Want You to Know" and "Sittin' Here Thinkin' of My Love") are both live tracks from an unreleased live album recorded at the Filmore East in 1970. They are just gravy, because this was already a five star album which went gold and made it to the Top 1O in the United States.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2014
Traffic, a British rock band who recorded with various line-ups between 1967 and 1974 are in glorious form on this 1970 release. The 3 players who came on board for this venture were Steve Winwood (vocals, Hammond organ, piano, electric guitar, bass), Jim Capaldi (drums, percussion, vocals) and Chris Wood (saxophone, flute and percussion). The instrumental opener, 'Glad' demonstrates the classy virtuoso talents of the trio and segues masterfully into the first of the vocal tracks, namely 'Freedom Rider'. 'Empty Pages' is no less impressive and the relatively short 'Stranger To Himself' is an excellent rock workout. The title track 'John Barleycorn (Must Die)' is unlike anything else here; a lovely, traditional folk song delivered with subtlety and panache. 'Every Mother's Son', which closes the album, is another Traffic classic - powerful and soulful, not surprising given Winwood's supreme abilities both as a singer and musician. If you enjoy rock music with a progressive/blues feel, Traffic should tick all the boxes and provide you with 40+ minutes of excellent entertainment. Highly recommended.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2010
After another line-up of Traffic split in 1969, Steve Winwood played with the Blind Faith. After that, early in 1970, he planned to record a solo album. Yet, seeking musical partners tuned in the same way as himself, was a bit uneasy. That's why he gratefully accepted co-operation of his old Traffic friends, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi, and after all the album, John Barleycorn Must Die, was issued as as the 3rd Traffic's LP.
The trio (S. W. - keyb, g, bg, perc, voc; C. W. - keyb, saxs, fl, perc; J. C. - ds) was in a wonderful shape that year. The 6 original tracks are a tremendous blend of various musical styles and influences, yet holding perfectly together on one album. The majority of tracks (4-7 min each) allows space for solo improvisations. The instrumental opener ("Glad") starts off with a rhythmic piano and woodwind riff, which might be, by current categorization, assigned even to funky jazz-rock. However, the composition spreads into sax and then keybord improvisations, the piano in the end sounding nearly like a classical one, almost impressionistic style. Track 2 ("Freedom Rider") begins with a sax motif (which might have been an inspiration for the sax jingle of the TV series on Hercule Poirot :-). A lovely flute solo is featured as well. In track 3 ("Empty Pages"), a melodic folk-like tune, Winwood's vocal (commonly somewhat strangled) sounds, especially in the refrain, almost like Phil Collins. Probably no guitars are employed in these 2 compositions (tracks 2 & 3). In contrast, one of the additional tracks that were included into this remastered reissue (track 4 - "I Just Want You to Know"), is a short tune based on vocal harmonies and then it features a lovely guitar solo. Track 6 is the outstanding title composition - an English folk ballad, "John Barleycorn Must Die." As noted on the cover, the first record of this song appeared in 1465 in the age of James 1st. It is said to be about "the effort of people to give up the alcohol distilled from barley." Track 7 ("Every Mothers Son") has appeared on some compilations of progressive rock of the time. It features a catchy legato guitar figure and later, this composition transforms into folk-rock'n'blues keyboard improvisations, with perfect, time-to-time even exalted Winwood's singing (of course, Winwood is no Freddie Mercury, but his voice is very functional and suitable for this kind of music). Tracks 7 & 8 were recorded only by 2 people - Winwood played everything except for drums.
The sound of this remaster is quite nice; to me, only the additional track 4 sounds somehow flatter. The 2 bonus tracks are very pleasing (the total time of the extended issue is no more than 39:31 min), and depite that in general, I quite dislike spreading the added material in between the original one, on this album, it is quite feasible (the extra material being track 4 and the last track 8): in case you don't have the original recording in your ears, you would not recognize the "E.T." among the old material. The cover is the original - very decent. It is an older painting provided by the English Folk Dance & Song Society; it depicts a faggot of barley(?).
Whom to recommend this music: to anyone who likes the progressive rock music with lots of improvisation of the turn of 1960's and 1970's. If you like Clapton, Blind Faith etc., and the British folk, you won't be dissapointed. This record is superb, 5 stars.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2011
This is a rather excellent remaster of "John Barleycorn Must Die". That's a rare thing in itself.
It is true that the CD2 doesn't really match the new clarity of this classic, but anyone who likes this LP should think seriously about buying it in this version. I think I have 4 versions of it now. Bloody record companies.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2008
I got into this one as a Winwood fan working backwards from his current material. I cannot add too much to the other reviewers comments but would echo that it's a superb work and, if you've heard other late sixties and seventies acts, you can hear how they were inspired by Traffic.
One very minor gripe with this package is that a bonus track (track 4) is slotted in the middle of the main work without any explanation as to why in the sleve notes - was this track orginally pencilled for that slot on the album? I prefer to listen to such re-issues as the artist originally intended with the bonus material on the end as an option.