UNEQUALLED, KNOCK-OUT LIVE ALBUM! A "TIMELINE" REVIEW... PLAY 1...Jazz and R'nB - what?? It doesn't sound like Traffic, I expected pop, like "Hole In My Shoe", etc. PLAY 2...No I don't get it. The tracks are too long... I don't know what's it's all about. (Have I been done?). PLAY 3...I'll play it again - you never know. Hey! I like "Low Spark" and "Glad/Freedom Rider"! (I get those two anyway!) PLAY 4...Yes, "Low Spark" and "Glad/Freedom Rider" are excellent. Wait! ...tracks 4 and 5 are al-right now! I get it! PLAY 5...Yep! Cool album, I love it all! It's terrific, what incredible musicianship, what an incredible achievement live! PLAY 6...And for the next 40 yrs...visionary...genius...perceptive...worthwhile...appreciated...I never tire of it! (etc, etc).
WARNING! IT MAY TAKE SEVERAL LISTENS TO FULLY APPRECIATE THIS MORE MEANINGFUL, BETTER ALBUM! (*Get 2003 remaster).
As live albums go this is one of the best. I've got most of Traffic's other studio albums on vinyl (and CD) and listen to them regularly (especially John Barleycorn). I'd never heard this one before so I bought it a couple of months ago (Oct 08) and alongwith Hawkwind's "In Search of Space", this is one of only two albums on my desktop as a shortcut.
It's on my desktop, it's in my car and I wish I'd known about it years ago.
If you have any doubt as to whether to buy this or not - go for it. For the sake of a few quid, this could easily become one of your favourite albums.
This somehow came into my possession early seventies, I never bought it. In moments of desperation on a sad Sunday, I'd sometimes play Glad/Freedom Rider but.....really....... I knew of the incredible promise in the first Spencer Davis album (Dimples, all that stuff), incendiary singing from Steve Winwood, and the follow-up "Autumn 66" with arrangements of a quality and sophistication that very few pop bands were reaching at the time. Real, real music. Again, absolutely stunning vocal stuff, we are talking Sam Cook, Ray Charles here. Then we get this pile of *****. How on Earth did it get to that from such promise? Again, a pick-up band, Winwood seems unable to hold a band together for more than five minutes. Noodling lyrics, nothing to say except "he's tired", poor compositions, he misses all his bends on the tortoise-like guitar playing and wants to disguise this by playing through distortion and then he's chosen a £20.00 fuzz box to do it. Hours of this. I don't know or care what happened to my edition of this record. Have it if you like it, I say it's abysmal and doubly wretched from those beginnings.
This album is a must for any music lover let alone admirers of Steve Winwood & Co. The playing and recordings are superb with the Traffic nucleus of Winwood, Capaldi and Wood being augmented by the mighty Muscle Shoals rhythm section and Reebop. This is one of the best bands ever formed at the top of their game. Steve Winwood has never been better before or since and that's saying something. His guitar work is fantastic as are his keyboards and vocals. Chris Wood's sax is sparse, searching and uniquely wonderful. The drumming as someone mentioned before in another review is sublime especially on "Low Spark". A thing of beauty and a joy forever, beg, steal or borrow it now!
Listening to On The Road was like reacquainting with an old friend. Some weaknesses, flaws, but overall a blast from the past. I just wish Traffic had stepped up a bit more. At times they seemed so laid back and poorly rehearsed. They were a great band but somehat overlooked except by a few. And as for Dave Mason, what did he do wrong? His songs may have been too commercial for Winwood but he made his contribution early on and seems to get no recognition, let alone inclusion such as at the celebration for Jim Capaldi.
Don't buy this cd thinking its part of the Traffic remaster program. its the old terrible island masters version the sound is truly terrible. If you want the very good remaster go to amazon US. I don't even think they have bothered to release the remasterd version in the UK.
I bought this album in 1973 after reading a rave review in the Times. It's still an album I play regularly. For fans of music today, 18 minute tracks probably seem a little self indulgent. However, this and Birds of Fire by the Mahavishnu Orchestra got me into jazz.
The band is excellent, as well as Traffic it features Barry Becket (keyboards), David Hood (bass) and Roger Hawkins (drums) who were in demand session musicians at the time. They were part of the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section whpo could be heard on dozens of hit singles, including tracks by Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, The Staple Singers, Cat Stevens, Duane Allman, Joe Cocker, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart and Willie Nelson.
I love the musicianship and songwriting. I played my favourite track "Sometimes I Feel so Uninspired" to my music teacher in 1974 and I think he was impressed - to me it still sounds remarkable. This is a great album.