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Traffic Trio At Their Creative Best
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.