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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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on 9 June 2015
Classic. Great album. Though I wish people who put the extra's on CDs would put them on a separate disc. I can't help but think they fill up the space because it's there. Don't! It's a classic studio album and does not require x amount of demo versions/studio outtakes. That goes for all classic albums. Don't mess with them!
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on 12 February 2015
I can't decide if this is their best or perhaps Mr Fantasy... certainly for me, it is one of the two and it could depend on the mood I'm in as the other has some nice psychedelic songs on from Dave Mason. This is really the other side of where they were then (even though it's a 'comeback' album) so it's more straightforward pop/rock with a folky tinge on a couple of songs although it kicks of with the jazz-samba-ish Glad and then into the funkier Freedom Rider. That's about the best segue from one incredible pieces of music to another, that I've ever come across.

I was addicted to this (and Mr Fantasy) for about 9 months of last year and decided to get this version as it was said to sound better than the remaster I had...and I agree that it does... more natural in my opinion. This is the early Island Masters edition and it's in the running to be one of my all-time favourite albums (and bands!) Not too easy to describe the music though - I tried a little above - and it might take a few plays for it to start to come together for you... I had a compilation years ago and that was fine, but I recently found it's only the albums that make real sense to me now.

As ever, this is all held together by the fantastic Steve Winwood and if you're even slightly curious about this, why not give it a shot and it might surprise you to the extent that it makes you want to hear and buy everything under their name (and Winwood as well) just like me! :)
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on 2 April 2011
I got the original vinyl of this a couple of years ago and its good to hear that this Deluxe CD Edition tries hard to keep close to the warmth,rhythm and space of the original analogue sound, allowing the songs to breath and groove without any hint of digital compression.
So why only 4 stars then?
Well the problem is the second disc.
The various alternate takes are well worth a listen but at the expense of the full track listing from one of the 2 Fillmore East shows? I think not.
These shows are easily available and have superb sound quality -see Wolfgang's Vault to listen- and are always more interesting to fans than a slightly different take on familiar songs.Indeed,the improvisations and jams during Traffic live shows were surely one of the defining features of the band.
But yet again, unearthing rehearsals or alternate takes is the preferred option for the record company types who must source a lot of these so called "extras" e.g
the complete waste of space that the recent Rainbow and Queen re-issues represent.
This is much, much better than those but would have been perfect with a complete Fillmore Set!
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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.
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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.
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