Traffic logo The Smiling Phases Compendium:

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The Smiling Phases Compendiums are a synthesis of information posted in the Smiling Phases mailing list. It's a summary of what SP contributors found interesting, what they asked and others answered, and what has come together through combined efforts. Some material is a re-iteration of the original SP postings, but many are newly written and some include additional tidbits for completeness or clarification. Topics covered elsewhere on the Smiling Phases and official Steve Winwood sites are generally omitted here, as are reviews, commentary, and favorite / least favorite songs. This synthesis is intended only to aid researchers, and authorship is attributable only to the original contributors of the referenced and linked SP postings for each topic.

The Smiling Phases Compendiums are compiled and edited by Stephen Smith, mostly from original postings by the many contributors to the Smiling Phases mailing list. See the linked SP references for the original postings in the Mailing List Archives.

Information is grouped into linked topics within each page. Source postings are referenced by SP volume and posting. For example, SP 58-04 refers to post 4 in SP volume 58.

Pre-Traffic bands
Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (1968)
Mr. Fantasy (1967)
Traffic (1968)
Last Exit (1969)
Best Of Traffic (1969)
Members' outside projects - 1969
John Barleycorn Must Die (1970)
Live / November 1970 (unreleased, 1970)
Welcome To The Canteen (1971)
The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys (1971)
Shootout At The Fantasy Factory (1973)
On The Road (1973)
When The Eagle Flies (1974)
Far From Home (1994)
Non-album singles and other releases
Traffic symbol
Lead vocal roles
Jim Capaldi
Chris Wood
Dave Mason
Rick Grech
Jim Gordon
Life in the cottage
Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason Tour 1998
Magical Mystery Tour film (1968)

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Pre-Traffic bands

Steve Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group to form Traffic with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason. These other original members were in a series of related bands before coming together in Traffic. The link between Steve Winwood and the other original members of Traffic seems to be his connection to Jim Capaldi. Jim's and Steve's fathers played together in dance bands in Birmingham during the war years.

Dave Mason played in the instrumental group Jaguars. The band released one single, "We'll Live On Happily" / "Now You Wonder Why", which appeared on the compilation The Story Of Oak Records.

Mason and Capaldi were joined by Luther Grosvenor (guitarist, later of Spooky Tooth) and Poli Palmer (keyboards, later of Family) in a group called The Hellions, with Mason as their vocalist. They released several singles: "Daydreaming Of You" / "Shades Of Blue" (1964), "Tomorrow Never Comes" / "Dream Child" (1965), "A Little Lovin'" / "Think It Over" (1965), and "Hallelujah" / "Shades Of Blue" (1966). The "Hallelujah" single was released under the name Revolution, without Mason or Capaldi. "Hallelujah" was a gospel song, which can also be heard on Sequel's CD Midlands Beat Groups Of The 60s, but the flipside was beatier. "Dream Child" can be heard on Visions Of The Past, Volume 3, and "Tomorrow Never Comes" appeared on the Sequel compilation Quick Before They Catch Us.

Chris Wood was in a band called Locomotive, which was was fronted by Norman Haines and also included Chris Mercer and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Chris may not have recorded with this band, but some of their recordings seem to be available. One of their singles, "Mr. Armageddon", appeared on Not Just Beat Music 1965-70 and on The British Psychedelic Trip, Volume 2 (or Volume 1 of the corresponding CD series). Another single, "Rudi's In Love", is available on See For Miles' 20 One Hit Wonders. The recent Shoestring CD reissue of their album We Are Everything You See comes with 12 bonus tracks, including all their non-album singles.

The Hellions became Deep Feeling with the addition of Gordon Jackson on vocals and guitars. The group also included Chris Wood. Jackson made solo recordings in the late 1960s which included Traffic members. Deep Feeling was a very popular experimental rock group in Birmingham, which prominently featured vibes and flute. Mason seemed to be the nominal, if temperamental, leader of that group. The group is not known to have recorded an album. Steve jammed extensively with the band, though, inspiring the formation of a new group that would always be moving in new musical directions, Traffic.

Capaldi and Mason did some duties as Spencer Davis Group roadies as well. Capaldi contributed a drum track to the reworked US version of Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'", which really propelled the recording to a more exciting level.

See the original postings: SP 41-08,
SP 14-04 .

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (1968)

Prior to the Mr. Fantasy album, Traffic recorded three tracks for a film called Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush: the title song, "Utterly Simple", and "Am I What I Was, Or Was I What I Am". RPM Records re-released the soundtrack on CD in 1997.
See the original postings: SP 06-08,
SP 47-05,
SP 80-07.

Mr. Fantasy (1967)

The version of "Utterly Simple" on Mr. Fantasy is a different recording from the earlier version on the soundtrack for Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush.
See the original postings: SP 137-05.

Most reissues of Mr. Fantasy have been the original UK version, but the original US version differed substantially. The US version, United Artists UAS 6651, included "Paper Sun" (short version), "Hole In My Shoe", and "Smiling Phases", but omitted "Utterly Simple" and "Hope I Never Find Me There". The last 45 seconds of "Paper Sun" was placed at the end of the record as a separate track called "We're A Fade, You Missed This". Between all of the tracks were snippets of music from "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush". Interestingly, Dave Mason was not in the photos or listed as a member of the band, and both of the omitted songs were his. The three songs added were earlier singles. The Canadian version of the album, Reaping, was the same as the US version less two tracks. The US version was reissued on CD by Island 3D in the UK about 1993, but with "Paper Sun" intact (long version) and without the snippets. "We're A Fade, You Missed This" and the other three US version tracks appeared on the US promotional sampler CD Traffic Control, Island PR-2300-2.

The full track listing of the US version was, on side one, "Paper Sun", "Dealer", "Coloured Rain", "Hole In My Shoe", "No Face, No Name And No Number", "Heaven Is In Your Mind", and on side two, "House For Everyone", "Berkshire Poppies", "Giving To You", "Smiling Phases", "Dear Mr. Fantasy", "We're A Fade, You Missed This".

The front cover is a photo of Steve, Jim and Chris sitting cross-legged in a triangle on a small sheep-skin rug. Steve is up front with Chris behind him on his right and Jim behind him on his left. Steve wears an Indian style white shirt, which contrasts with Chris' and Jim's outlandish mod clothes. Chris wear a flowered shirt, neck scarf and suede vest, and Jim has a reddish-orange paisley shirt. The back cover is a photo of all three standing in a triangle in sculptured English garden, Capaldi on right holding 2 sticks like canes in his hands, Winwood in center with left hand in coat pocket and right hand clenched like he could be holding a cane and Wood on left smirking with one hand on his chest and the other holding a branch.

See the original postings: SP 02-12,
SP 21-07,
SP 26-08,
SP 40-02, SP 40-07, SP 40-09,
SP 44-09,
SP 45-01,
SP 47-05,
SP 139-06.

The original UK mono version of Mr. Fantasy differs slightly from the stereo version on some tracks. The guitar solo at the end of "Heaven Is In Your Mind", probably played by Mason on the stereo version, is different and probably played by Winwood on the mono version. On "Giving To You", the chatter at the beginning of the mono version is "I said it's like, er, stop makin' it man, it's like, er, it's er, er, you know what I mean, er, jazz", while the stereo version has "is is is, you know where it's at, I mean, you know, I mean, I mean you know where I'm at, but I mean jazz".
See the original postings: SP 29-04,
SP 37-04.

Winwood related the story behind "Mr. Fantasy" in a Rolling Stone magazine interview by David Dalton from 5/3/1969: "Actually how it started was that Jim did a drawing during the time when we were thinking about cover ideas for the first LP. And Jim drew a picture of this guy who was Mr. Fantasy with hair like the Statue of Liberty, he had on a long robe and he was playing a guitar with strings coming from his fingers, and by the side of it Jim had written: "Dear Mr. Fantasy, sing us a tune / Something to make us all happy / Do anything, take us out of this gloom / Sing a song, play guitar make it snappy". Just these four lines scribbled out at the side, just a single poem for the front cover. And then Jim flaked out and Chris and I stayed up all night and then got the thing together. And we set a live mike on a stage in the studio. We tried sitting in the little boxes and cans, but it just didn't work for this number. It wasn't half so strong after we'd done it. It was time that gave it a lot of meaning."

In the book Stevie Winwood & Friends... (Music Sales Corp., also Collier, 1970), Winwood provides a little more insight: "["Dear Mr. Fantasy"] was done on impulse with practically nothing worked out, because it was almost jammed. The initial spirit of the whole thing was captured on record - which is very rare. That was one of the things, because it is not specifically an outstanding melody or an outstanding chord sequence or anything. It's basically quite simple. They're very simple lyrics and they're repeated three times."

See the original postings: SP 37-09,
SP 45-06.

Traffic (1968)

Some songwriting credits on the Traffic album changed between the original LP and the more recent CD reissues. The credits for "Vagabond Virgin" changed from Mason/Capaldi to Mason/Wood, and the credits for "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring?" changed from Winwood/Capaldi to Winwood/Capaldi/Wood.
See the original postings: SP 137-05.

Last Exit (1969)

Dave Mason left Traffic while they were recording the tracks for this album. His song "Just For You" also appeared as the b-side of his first solo single, "Little Woman" (Island, 2/1968), in the same version. Mason played acoustic guitar on "Shanghai Noodle Factory" and "Withering Tree". His style is very different from Steve's and is easy to recognize. The bass parts are more difficult to identify, but Winwood probably played on "Shanghai Noodle Factory" and Mason probably played on "Withering Tree". With a few exceptions like "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Means To An End", where there are two guitars, Mason played most of the lead guitar in Traffic. On "Something's Got A Hold Of My Toe", Mason probably played lead guitar and perhaps bass as well. The screeching sound on "Withering Tree" is Chris Wood's flute, with some tinkly cymbals tagged on. "Medicated Goo" was recorded as a trio, since Mason had left Traffic by that time, and he is not on the live tracks, "Blind Man" and "Feelin' Good".
See the original postings: SP 38-09,
SP 40-04,
SP 47-05.

Some of the writing credits on the album appear to be unusual. Jimmy Miller has co-credits on three songs: "Shanghai Noodle Factory", "Something's Got A Hold Of My Toe", and "Medicated Goo". He wrote lyrics on "Medicated" and probably on "Shanghai" as well. On "Something's", Jimmy may have simply come up with the title, or (less likely) maybe the tune was written around some words of his but no vocal got recorded. Another odd songwriting credit on this album is Fallon on "Shanghai Noodle Factory", although the Smiling Phases compilation only credits Winwood / Capaldi / Wood. Fallon is apparently Larry Fallon, a producer, arranger, and songwriter on various albums since 1968.
See the original postings: SP 42-02,
SP 44-09,
SP 137-05,
SP 156-11.

The original recording of "Feelin' Good" is on the soundtrack CD Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd (1965). The song was written by Anthony Newley, the darling of the London stage scene in the 1960s, the Bert Bacharach of the UK.
See the original postings: SP 42-02.

"Blind Man" is a Bobby Bland song. He may be one of the authors also, using a pseudonym as he did on all of his songs. There are many covers of this song, mostly in the blues genre. The credited writers, Scott and Malone, may be the same two who wrote "Turn on Your Lovelight", one of the Grateful Dead's most popular covers. "Blind Man" was written by Deadric Malone and Joseph Scott.
See the original postings: SP 43-01, SP 43-07,
SP 137-05.

"Shanghai Noodle Factory" is inexplicably listed as 7:58, rather than the actual 5:04, on later LP and all CD copies of Last Exit. Also, the album was originally released with two different covers. The alternate cover had a large Traffic logo with inset photos.
See the original postings: SP 137-05.

Best Of Traffic (1969)

The original US and UK releases of Best Of Traffic had slightly different tracks. The US LP included "You Can All Join In" while the UK LP included "Smiling Phases". Most US copies have the short version of "Paper Sun" while others have the full version.
See the original postings: SP 138-07.

Members' outside projects - 1969

Traffic briefly disbanded when Steve Winwood left to join Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Rick Grech. The other members of Traffic joined with Wynder K. Frog, whose real name is Mick Weaver, to form Mason Capaldi Wood & Frog. Frog was a vocalist and exceptional organist. They played together for about a year until Steve started work on a solo album called Mad Shadows. When Capaldi and Wood became involved, the album became Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die, and Mason Capaldi Wood & Frog was abandoned. There are no known recordings of that group, though they did play live dates in the winter of 1968-1969. The name Wooden Frog may also have been used, and they may have played material which was later released on Dave Mason's Alone Together. Wynder K. Frog's second album, Out Of The Frying Pan (1968), was reissued on CD in 1996.
See the original postings: SP 31-06,
SP 32-05,
SP 34-04,
SP 47-05.

Chris Wood also played on the first Fat Mattress album, which was self-titled and released in the summer of 1969. The group was formed by Noel Redding, formerly of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. At that time the British music press was equally hyping the new offshoot groups Fat Mattress and Led Zeppelin, formed by Jimmy Page of the Yardbirds. Fat Mattress survived through just two albums that sold very poorly.
See the original postings: SP 32-04.

John Barleycorn Must Die (1970)

"John Barleycorn" is the main song of a soundtrack for a very successful Italian movie called "Nirvana" by film maker Gabriele Salvatores.
See the original postings: SP 51-06.

An SP subscriber described a magazine article that featured photographer Richard Polak, who took the photograph on the inside gatefold sleeve of John Barleycorn Must Die. The photo was an experiment with infrared film, which was new at that time. The picture published in the magazine is orange, yellow and green. Another photo in the magazine is a shot that he took but didn't use for John Barleycorn Must Die. According to the article he was Traffic's court photographer. A check of album covers revealed that he is credited on Traffic and The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys. Polak also photographed many other 1960s and 1970s icons and did the shoot for the Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus.
See the original postings: SP 120-08.

Chris Wood brought the English traditional song "John Barleycorn" to the group, in the version recorded by a group called the Watersons. Elaine Waterson also recorded the Christmas song "Christmas Is Now Drawing Near At Hand", which Steve did in 1997.
See the original postings: SP 115-06.

United Artists LPs of John Barleycorn Must Die, with the burlap background on the cover, reflect times of 6:30 / 6:02 for "Glad" / "Freedom Rider". Island LPs and CDs with the new gray background show times of 6:32 / 6:20. The Smiling Phases collection finally got it right at 6:58 / 5:27.
See the original postings: SP 138-07.

Live / November 1970 (unreleased, 1970)

After John Barleycorn Must Die, a live album from the 1970 tour was slated for release as Live / November 1970. Although LP covers and promotional posters were printed, and still circulate, the album was never released. It was rumored that SW didn't like the quality and ditched the tapes. The track listing was, on side one, "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring" (7:20), "Glad" (11:45), and on side two, "Pearly Queen" (4:55), "Forty Thousand Headmen" (4:35), "Dear Mr. Fantasy" (6:02), "Can't Find My Way Home" (4:33). The album cover was published in an Island advertisement, and the title was even listed in the Schwann catalog. The poster measures 24 by 36 inches, and its design consists mostly of the Traffic symbol against a black background, with photos of Steve, Jim, Chris and Rick Grech inset into the openings of the symbol, "Live Traffic" across the top, and United Artists' "UA" logo in the bottom corner.
See the original postings: SP 30-01,
SP 47-05,
SP 48-08.

Welcome To The Canteen (1971)

The original Island LP of Welcome To The Canteen did not credit or even mention Traffic other than the group's symbol in the back photo. Instead, it was billed as the individual players Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason, Chris Wood, Rick Grech, Reebop Kwaku Baah, and Jim Gordon. The original Island CD (CID 9166) credited Traffic on the spine but the individual names on the disc. Subsequent Island CD reissues credited only Traffic. Some releases credited "Traffic, etc.".
See the original postings: SP 37-07,
SP 47-05,
SP 138-07.

The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys (1971)

An article in Trouser Press in 1977 attributed the phrase "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" to actor Michael J. Pollard. Pollard recently appeared as the crazy-looking guy in the Visa commercial who can't forge one of their new high-tech cards. The article said that he coined the phrase in a state of altered consciousness while working on a film in Morocco, for which Traffic was supposed to record a soundtrack. Others attribute the phrase to an old Western novel. In an interview published in the British music paper Sounds 4/22/1972, Ray Telford asked Jim Capaldi how "Low Spark...." was chosen as an album title. Jim responded that the title was from Michael J. Pollard while they were in Morocco. One day Michael simply wrote "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" in a book of Jim's. Michael was "really hung up on Dylan and The Band & Jesse James and all that scene". Jim thought it was a great line and wrote the song. Not from a real Western, but coined by a Western fan."
See the original postings: SP 47-04, SP 47-05,
SP 66-01.

On the first two tracks of The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, "Hidden Treasure" and "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys", the bass is tuned high by at least a quarter-step. The most noticeable place is the two notes at the end of the phrase, where the piano is at its highest. The effect adds to the musical tension, and the group may have felt it was too interesting to fix.
See the original postings: SP 21-13.

A song called "Hard To Find A Friend" was rehearsed for the album and was commented on in a Rolling Stone article, but was never released.
See the original postings: SP 32-06,
SP 52-02.

Jim Capaldi and Tony Wright, the artist for the cover of The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, described the making of the cover on a site to sell lithographs.
Jim Capaldi:
I remember the "Low Spark" session vividly. I had written the lyrics for the title track and had given them to Steve. On the way to the studio he said he'd written something that was so so. When he sat at the piano and first played it through it took a while to sink in, but you instinctively knew that you'd just heard a classic. We got the track down, and it was time for the vocals. While Steve was singing, Chris Blackwell noticed that we intended to repeat a verse because I didn't have enough for a last verse. Chris said there definitely should be one, and I agreed. I wrote the last verse while I was sitting outside the recording studio and Steve was singing inside. I went into the studio and slipped the new lyrics on the music stand, and Steve just ran it off, and that was the take. Then we were listening through, and all getting very excited because by now we'd become very familiar and very intoxicated with the track. That's what it does to you.
I wanted the album cover to reflect this very special and unusual piece of music. It was unanimous that the cover would have to be the title track. So I was thinking about this while doodling with a chinagraph pencil on the control desk. The thought to me that although people had for a time tried everything imaginable on album covers, they were all basically square in shape. I had been drawing a cube as millions of people must do every day. But looking at it, I realized that if you were to chop two opposite corners off an album jacket diagonally, and draw in the relevant lines you would be holding a cube in your hand. Chris Blackwell gave it to Tony Wright. When I saw what he'd done with it, I was totally knocked out. The rest is history.
Tony Wright:
It was the first cover I designed. When Steve saw it he said, "It looks like Traffic's music sounds".
See the original postings: SP 67-08.

The title track on The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys has always been listed incorrectly as 12:10, but the Smiling Phases collection correctly lists it as 11:35. The original LP track order was "Hidden Treasure" / "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" / "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" / "Rock And Roll Stew" / "Many A Mile To Freedom" / "Rainmaker". On the CD, "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" was moved from track 3 to track 5. "Rainmaker" is the only Traffic track to feature Rick Grech's violin.
See the original postings: SP 138-07.

Shootout At The Fantasy Factory (1973)

All of the tracks on Shootout At The Fantasy Factory were written and recorded in about a week. The final instrumental part of the title track appears to be in 9/8 time (or 17/4 according to others), illustrating the accomplished musicianship of the group. As with The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, the original LP cover and many reissues had six sides since the lower left and upper right corners were cut off.
See the original postings: SP 02-02,
SP 04-02,
SP 139-04.

The original US release of the Shootout At The Fantasy Factory LP, with Island's sunray labels, differed slightly from all subsequent releases on LP and CD, affecting most of the tracks. The original UK LP, Island ILPS 9924, does not share these differences. For example, "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" has a longer time and more guitar at the end, the title track has more flute, and "Roll Right Stones" is longer. On all other US LP and CD releases of this album, "Roll Right Stones" fades out two minutes early, although the time is consistently listed as the full 13:44. The sunray label LP reflects track times of 6:01 / 13:40 / 5:00 / 4:07 / 10:01 rather than the actual 6:04 / 13:44 / 5:16 / 6:40 / 7:31. The cover has the catalog number at the bottom of the spine, while later LP covers have it at the top and have smaller lettering on the spine. The track time on the reissue US LP Island 7 90027-1, bought new in 1985, is roughly 11:30, while the corresponding US CD Island 7 90027-2, bought new in 1989, reflects 11:47.
See the original postings: SP 47-05,
SP 139-04,
SP 141-09,
SP 143-11.

On The Road (1973)

On The Road was originally released in two formats, one LP and two LPs, both with the same cover design and humorous road sign sleeves. For the 2-LP and current CD versions, the track listing is "Glad" / "Freedom Rider" / "Tragic Magic" / "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" / "Shootout At The Fantasy Factory" / "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" / "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys".

For the single LP, the track listing is "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" / "Shootout At The Fantasy Factory" / "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" / "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone". "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" was edited on the single LP from 17:35 to 15:10, with the missing 2:25 cut from the break between the first and second verses.

"The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" is faded out several seconds early on later releases of the album, but not on the edited single LP version or earlier pressings of the 2-LP version. The song is faded on the US 2-LP release Island ISLD 2, bought new in 1980, but not on the US CD release Island 7 90028-2, bought new in 1989. An early release of the 2-LP album with the non-faded version has Island's black labels from the late 1970s. The US version of ISLD 2 has light blue/gray labels with an orange sun behind the Island logo on LP 1, and darker blue/gray labels with a yellow sun behind the logo on LP 2. The UK version of ISLD.2, bought upon release in 1973, has a gray label featuring the Traffic logo next to a traffic light in a street scene with London taxi and double-decker bus, with the non-faded version of "Low Spark...". Each record of that UK release is also numbered, ISLD 3.1 with further identification Mat 3.1 A / Mat 3.1 B and ISLD 3.2 further identification Mat 3.2 A / Mat 3.2 B.

See the original postings: SP 139-04,
SP 141-09,
SP 142-02,
SP 143-11,
SP 144-05.

When The Eagle Flies (1974)

The CD reissue of When The Eagle Flies was slated for release on CD (as CID 9273) by Island UK in August 1988, after all of the other Traffic CDs, but was never released due to legal problems. The legal problem may have related to Winwood's defection to Virgin. In addition, Chris Blackwell may have been unhappy with the sound quality. Thousands of CDs were actually pressed, and some copies were exported to Japan and possibly elsewhere. An Island Masters reissue (IMCD 142) was eventually released some years later and is still available.
See the original postings: SP 47-05.

One story behind "Dream Gerrard" is that Vivian Stanshall was reading a poem by Gerard de Nerval, a French Oriental poet, while at Winwood's home. Winwood picked it up and started plonking on the piano.
See the original postings: SP 47-06.

A 1974 photo of Traffic from Island, autographed by Winwood, showed all five members of the group in the same pose as the cover drawing on When The Eagle Flies. Reebop was at the far left of the photo, but apparently dropped from the drawing. At a 1974 show in Manchester, UK, Reebop's large drum and percussion sets were on stage, but he never showed up. Traffic's last concert was at the Reading Festival in the UK, in August 1974.
See the original postings: SP 42-05.

Rosko Gee is seen in the cover drawing of When The Eagle Flies and in two photos in the Smiling Phases collection, but his name has never appeared on a US Traffic album.
See the original postings: SP 139-04.

Far From Home (1994)

Far From Home, Traffic's reunion album after 20 years, was recorded at Woodstock, Kicoole, Ireland, and the CD was released on 5/3/1994 as Virgin 39490. All songs were written or co-written by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi.
See the original postings: SP 01-02.

Traffic performed "Here Comes a Man" on the David Letterman show in 1994.
See the original postings: SP 44-05.

The 1994 Traffic tour consisted of two distinct sets of dates, since on some dates they opened for the Grateful Dead and on others they headlined. The time allotted Traffic during the Dead shows was limited, resulting in a "greatest hits" mode for these shows. In the headlining shows, Traffic placed a greater emphasis on the new album. A casual poll revealed that by the end of the 1994 tour, perhaps in England in September, they had played all of the songs from the new album, to varying degrees, except "Far From Home", "State of Grace" and "This Train Won't Stop". The number of new songs played at any given concert varied from only two to four. "Pearly Queen" seems to have opened every show, followed by "Medicated Goo". Other old songs played consistently included "Rock And Roll Stew", "Empty Pages", "Forty Thousand Headmen", "Glad / Freedom Rider", "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys", "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone", "Dear Mr. Fantasy", "John Barleycorn" and "Gimme Some Lovin'", roughly in that order. Songs that dropped in and out of the set included "Walking In The Wind", "Rainmaker" and "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired". "Holy Ground" was added at only two shows in England at the end of the tour, Birmingham 9/26/1994 and Manchester, and a soundcheck. Davy Spillane played Uilleann pipes on the song, reprising his performance on the album. Traffic's set list was similar to shows at the peak of their popularity in the early 1970s, as the following sets show.
Boston Music Hall 10/14/1971 (Boston, MA): "Medicated Goo", "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone", "Glad / Freedom Rider", "Hidden Treasure", "John Barleycorn", "Rock And Roll Stew", "Many A Mile to Freedom", "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys", "Gimme Some Lovin'".
RFK Stadium 7/16/1994 (Washington, DC): "Pearly Queen", "Medicated Goo", "Glad / Freedom Rider", "Rock And Roll Stew", "Rainmaker", "Mozambique", "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys", "Dear Mr. Fantasy", "Gimme Some Lovin'". Traffic opened for the Grateful Dead on this date.
See the original postings: SP 09-04,
SP 47-05.

Non-album singles and other releases

An alternative take of "Feelin' Alright", lighter and folkier than the version on Traffic and with flute instead of sax, was issued on the Dave Mason compilation Scrapbook (1973, 2 LPs).
See the original postings: SP 29-04.

The version of "Giving To You" which appeared on the b-side of the US single "Paper Sun" / "Giving To You" is a completely different recording from the version on Mr. Fantasy. A United Artists promotional copy of the single reflects catalog number UA 50195, "Paper Sun" is the "Plug Side", "Paper Sun" master ZTSP 123998, and "Giving To You" master 123999 (length is given as 4:10). There is about half of a verse with lyrics at the beginning of the song, then it goes into the instrumental part as on the LP. There is none of the jive talk (eg, "But, I mean jazz...") that opens and closes the LP version. Some of the flute, guitar and organ motifs are similar, but it's definitely a different take altogether, rather than just a different mix. Others feel that the difference is in the vocal only, and that the instrumental portion is the same as on the album. The lyrics are:
"Moving and grooving through country so soothing,
My mind taking five now and then,
Relaxed at the wheel I'm beginning to feel,
That life is worth living,
And living is giving to you."

The b-side of the US single "Rock And Roll Stew Part 1" / "Rock And Roll Stew Part 2" is a continuation of the jam that fades out on the album version. The jam goes on for three or four minutes. The single was released on United Artists.

See the original postings: SP 02-13,
SP 29-05,
SP 32-07,
SP 47-05,
SP 110-12,
SP 113-12,
SP 135-08.

Traffic symbol

The Traffic symbol, with its four interlocking arrows, appears on all of the band's albums. Various explanations have been offered concerning the origin of the symbol.

- Trouser Press 1/1978, which featured Winwood and Traffic, included a story behind the logo: "According to Steve, it was the creation of a lady called Carol Ruskin and the band adopted it because they liked it and there was really nothing more to it than that. A simple explanation that could be true, however a few facts should be pointed out. Among other things it's a Celtic representation of the Wheel of Fortune, something which crops up in several songs including "No Time To Live" and "Dealer", and it's also connected with the Hindu swastika, the three legged Isle of Man design and is later to be found on Irish crosses. Also Myrrdin, later to metamorphose into Merlin the councilor and magician of medieval Arthurian fantasy, claims the symbol."

- The symbol was created by a friend of the group, based on the Celtic Wheel of Fortune. The symbol used on the Smiling Phases site was scanned from a 1973 hand-drawn version by Steve Darlington, who did lots of them. The symbol originally pointed counterclockwise on the early Traffic albums, but Island reversed it on The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys and some subsequent albums.

- The symbol is an ancient Druid symbol. Traffic had a fascination with Druids since the cottage was near Stonehenge. They also wrote about another ancient civilization, the Roll Rights, and various stone monuments in "Roll Right Stones."

- One interpretation of the symbol is an expression of movement in many directions converging together, like the movement of automotive traffic on a freeway, ergo the name of a band that wanted to keep things moving. Jim Capaldi is responsible for drawing the symbol.

See the original postings: SP 26-11,
SP 27-01,
SP 45-06,
SP 47-05,
SP 51-10,
SP 80-03.

Lead vocal roles

Steve Winwood sang lead vocal on most Traffic songs, but other members of the group also took their turns. Capaldi sang lead on "Dealer", "Rock And Roll Stew" and "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone", plus co-lead with Winwood on "Heaven Is In Your Mind" and "John Barleycorn". Mason sang lead on all songs he wrote for Traffic. "Vagabond Virgin" is credited as having lead vocals by both Dave and Jim, but Dave actually carries the whole melody. Many fans maintain that Steve sang the middle part of Dave's "Don't Be Sad", although the lead vocal is credited only to Dave. "Crying To Be Heard" features a brief duet between Steve & Dave. Chris Wood didn't sing lead vocals for Traffic, but contributed many backup vocals on the first album and often played organ in the early concerts when Winwood played guitar.
See the original postings: SP 13-03,
SP 154-02,
SP 156-07.

Jim Capaldi

Jim Capaldi was a tax exile in Brazil for many years. At the Traffic shows, Jim introduced Steve as his best friend for 30 years and one of the greatest musicians on the planet. At a 5/1994 Traffic concert Salem, Oregon, he introduced Steve as "pound for pound, the best musician".
See the original postings: SP 06-08,
SP 52-05.

Jim is married to Aninha, a Brazilian lady, since 1975. They have two daughters, Tabitha and Tallulah. Jim wrote a song for Tabitha in 1979.
See the original postings: SP 56-02.

Jim may be involved in a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band tribute. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band site reported in 1998 that: "Jim Yoakum is currently working out the logistics for a Bonzo tribute/reunion album, set for a Christmas release: It Was A Great Party Until Somebody Found A Hammer (the title comes from an unreleased Bonzo track). Yoakum has been talking to some great people about the project, such as Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Wreckless Eric, The Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, Negativeland, Ken Nordine, John Cale. Gene Pitney, Eric Idle, and others. I was lucky enough to hear a demo of the "Doin' The Bonzo Dog" by George Harrison and Jim Capaldi, and it's one of the best post-Beatle songs to come along."
See the original postings: SP 142-10.

Chris Wood

Chris Wood's lilting flute, prominent among many early Traffic songs, was as distinctive as Winwood's soaring vocals. Wood's contributions to Traffic included his well-known woodwind parts, backing vocals, and organ in concert behind Winwood's guitar work. His severe drug and alcohol abuse prevented him from realizing his full potential and eventually robbed him of his life. Aside from Traffic, he played on Capaldi's Oh How We Danced, Ginger Baker's Airforce, and jams with Jimi Hendrix. He also played with Dr. John in concert, but never recorded with him.
See the original postings: SP 31-05.

Chris Wood's father passed away on April 10, 1997.
See the original postings: SP 73-05.

Dave Mason

A Web site in late 1996 had an article about an upcoming Dave Mason live album, which was to include his version of "Dear Mr. Fantasy". It said, in part: "This live album is expected to be complete for release in the near future and word has it, there is even talk of a Traffic reunion with Dave. As you may remember during the last Traffic reunion, Dave was touring with Fleetwood Mac. This live concert event may feature celebrity guest performances by Dave Mason and friends! Word has it, Dave will be inviting many special artist / friends to take part in this concert / jam session."
See the original postings: SP 45-04.

Mason toured in the spring of 1996, and was scheduled to appear on 3/28/1996 at the Caravan of Dreams Club (Fort Worth, TX), on 4/2/1996 at Grand Emporium (Kansas City, KA), on 4/17/1996 at the Old Vienna Kaffeehaus (Westboro, MA), a small coffeehouse, and on 4/18/1996 at Tramps in (New York City, NY). A schedule of 1996 tour dates was available on Mason's official Web site, which asserted that his song "Feelin' Alright" has been covered 300 times.
See the original postings: SP 25-01,
SP 26-01, SP 26-11,
SP 27-07,
SP 28-04.

Dave Mason toured with Fleetwood Mac in 1995 as a member of the band. They appeared at Timberwolf Amphitheater at Kings Island (Cincinnati, OH), prior to 8/8/1995, where Mason sang "We Just Disagree" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy". They also played dates in Italy.
See the original postings: SP 04-05,
SP 26-07.

In an interview published in Goldmine magazine, Mason said that he was summarily kicked out of Traffic without an explanation and was not asked to join the reunion tour. He also said that Winwood's session work on his Two Hearts (1987) album was totally remote, such that Winwood just recorded the vocals and organ tracks, then mailed them to Mason's producer.
See the original postings: SP 24-03.

A laserdisc released in Japan, Dave Mason - Best Live 1991 Tokyo (70 minutes), included "Feelin' Alright", "Let It Go", "Let It Flow", "World In Changes", and 11 other tracks.
See the original postings: SP 46-04.

Stephen Stills interrupted CSNY's concert at the Big Sur folk festival (9/13/1969) to allow Dave Mason to sing "World In Changes" and "Only You Know And I Know" with the band.
See the original postings: SP 05-03.

Rick Grech

Before joining Blind Faith and later Traffic, Rick Grech was in the band Family. The band's most acclaimed album was Music In A Doll's House, which was produced by Dave Mason. Island released the Rick Grech compilation album The Last Five Years in 1973.
See the original postings: SP 33-10,
SP 37-11,
SP 47-04.

Jim Gordon

As Jim Gordon's career was escalating, he developed schizophrenia, which usually begins in a patient's teens or early twenties. In 1983, as a result of the illness, he killed his mom. At his trial in 1984 his lawyers correctly argued insanity. Due to changes in the law resulting from the case of John Hinckley, Jr., though, he was found guilty of murder. He is currently serving 16 years to life at San Luis Obispo, California.

The book Rock Bottom, by Pamela Des Barres, includes a chapter about Jim Gordon. Jim from an early age suffered from "voices" in his head, which would plague him for years to come. He married in 1964 and had a stable life. But drugs soon entered the picture. He divorced his wife, then teamed up with Rita Coolidge during Joe Cocker's "Mad Dogs" tour until he gave her a black eye. The voices at this point were usually silenced by the use of cocaine and heroin. After the spilt of Derek and the Dominoes and his stint with Traffic he moved back to the US, but the voices came back. He married again...and again this did not last long. He phoned his mother claiming he was "dying of hate" and checked himself into a hospital (on many occasions). In 1983 he killed his mother (one of the voices) and was sentenced to life in jail, despite 5 psychiatrists testifying that he was an acute paranoid schizophrenic. In an interview with the Washington Post he could not admit to the crime, believing that it just "happened". But the voices have gone. The author of the book received a letter from Jim in jail saying that he was still playing drums and "keeping my music up".

See the original postings: SP 119-04.

Life in the cottage

Upon formation in 1967, Traffic retreated to a small cottage in the countryside, near the village of Aston Tirrold in Berkshire Downs. Over time, this brief period in the band's history has taken on an almost Camelot-like quality. Winwood has indicated, though, that the ultimate value of the rural setting to the band was more practical than metaphysical. To find Aston Tirrold, follow A329 northwest out of Reading, change to A417 at Streatley, and the village is visible about halfway before the junction with 34. Separately, the Rollright Stones are near the village of Great Rollright.

As Geoffrey Stokes says in Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll: "[Life in the cottage] may have been somewhat less idyllic than romanticists have pictured it. Writer David Dalton, visiting the cottage in 1969, reported the following conversation with Winwood: As we come down the dirt road up to the cottage, we see a beekeeper disappear into some bushes. Stevie says, 'I heard him talking to his bees the other day'. 'That must have been interesting'. 'Not really. It was more like, "Git in thar, yer bastards"'.

Brain Matthews, the famous host of the British TV show "Top Gear", interviewed Winwood during Traffic BBC studio performances and shortly after the release of the group's second single in the fall of 1967:
BM: Those of us who kind of follow these things in the papers, understand that you've been preparing yourselves for both recording and appearances by hiding away in a cottage in the depths of the country.
SW: Umm um.
BM: Have you found this a congenial atmosphere to work, away from everybody?
SW: Um, well - it all relates back to this thing - making sounds, where people can't complain, can't annoy you. We weren't actually hidden away, we used to come out quite often - you know what I mean?
BM: (laughing) Yes, sure. So you've enjoyed it, it's been right for you?
SW: (emphatically) Yeah! Oh yes, certainly.
BM: Well, you must be right, it's produced a couple of hit records hasn't it? Can we hear now live, the latest success, "Hole in My Shoe"?
SW: Of course, yeah.
BM: Let's hear it. (plays "Hole In My Shoe")
Even in 1967, the cottage experience seemed to be a source of speculation and mystery to many.

Winwood's recollection of the experience was remarkably consistent in an interview he did ten years later with Penny Valentine for the 11/1977 issue of Creem: "Funny that - it only happened because we couldn't find anywhere in London to rehearse without the neighbors complaining - not a "let's go organic" thing at all. It was because, for the grand total of 50 pounds a year, we could have the cottage." Although it seems logical that the "organic" environment would have been influential in the development of Traffic's sound, perhaps this was more journalistic invention, a good story, than anything else. One writer described arriving at the cottage one summer night, imbuing a magical quality to it with the sudden appearance of colored lights, moving shadows, and swirling, ethereal music. Perhaps mentioning the muck and mire would have dulled the story.

See the original postings: SP 04-19,
SP 12-08,
SP 47-05.


A subscriber saw Traffic several times, including twice in October 1967 at the City Hall in Newcastle (UK). These dates were part of package tours, the first co-headlining with the Small Faces, and the second time with The Who and The Tremolos supported by the Herd and Marmalade. Traffic featured Mason on sitar, and the sets were different for these dates. The next concert was at York University (UK) in January 1971, after the release of John Barleycorn Must Die and Rick Grech had just joined the band. Following that was the tour with the Muscle Shoals session players in Manchester (UK), March 1973, one of only three UK.venues on that tour. Chris was impaired by drug use during that show, barely played at all and spent much of the show arguing with someone in the audience. The highlight of the concert was Steve playing all the lead on "Tragic Magic". A year later they were back at the City Hall in Newcastle, this time as a five piece band with Steve, Jim, Chris, Reebop and Rosko, a much tighter unit than the previous one. The highlight of the concert was "When The Eagle Flies" with Steve on piano, accompanied by Rosko. They appeared at the Reading Festival in August 1974, without Reebop who had left the band a few days earlier. The highlight was a superb version of "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" with electric piano, flute, bass and drums.
See the original postings: SP 29-04.

The 1971 Glastonbury Fair was filmed for a movie which was originally intended for British cinema, a sort of British version of Woodstock, but was apparently only shown on television. Someone from another mailing list indicated that the film ends with a "great stoned performance by Traffic".
See the original postings: SP 40-08.

A subscriber had the pleasure to experience the last concert of the Traffic farewell tour in Ludwigshafen, Germany, about 1973. It was a mammoth show. Steve announced at the beginning that, since it was their last concert together, Traffic would perform until they dropped. They did, with the first casualties occurring after about 3 hours, after playing just about the entire Traffic catalogue and several covers of other performers of the time. Steve played just about every instrument available during the night, breaking into several breathtaking solos on guitar and Hammond organ. He was also the last to succumb to fatigue, fare-welling his fans after more than four hours of non-stop music.
See the original postings: SP 43-03.

Traffic's last concert was at the Reading Festival in August 1974. A subscriber attended the Manchester (UK) gig in March 1973, possibly at the Hardrock. Spooky Tooth were due to support but never appeared. At the 1974 Traffic concert at the Free Trade Hall Manchester (UK), Winwood actually had to play guitar, and sat down at the electric piano on some songs, such as "Something New".
See the original postings: SP 29-07,
SP 47-05.

Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason tour 1998

Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason toured together during 1998 to guage interest in a possible album from them. The first date was to be 2/4/1998. The first portion of the tour included a bass player and keyboard player, and an additional acoustic guitarist for opener Al Stewart. Other dates posted:
- 2/6/1998: Keswick Theatre (Philadelphia, PA) with Al Stewart
- 2/7/1998: Club Bene (South Amboy, NJ) with Al Stewart
- 2/10/1998: Chameleon Club (Lancaster, PA) with Al Stewart
- 2/12/1998: Bottom Line (New York, NY) - two shows
- 2/13/1998: Webster Theatre (Hartford, CT) with Al Stewart
- 2/24/1998: Liberty Hall (Lawrence, Kansas) with Country Joe McDonald
Al Stewart performed "Year Of The Cat" and other songs. A controversial aspect of the tour was the billing for many dates as "Traffic Revisited" or "Traffic Reunion" with co-founders Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason. At the early show in New York, Steve Winwood joined the pair on stage as a surprise guest to perform "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys".
The set list:
"Pearly Queen"
"World In Changes"
"Forty Thousand Headmen"
"Love Will Keep Us Alive"
"Sad And Deep As You"
"Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" (including the Beatles' "Dear Prudence")
"Feelin' Alright"
"The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys"
"We Just Disagree"
"You've Got A Hold On Me" - new song
"Only You Know And I Know"
"All Along The Watchtower"
"Dear Mr. Fantasy"
See the original postings: SP 116-04,
SP 118-07,
SP 121-01, SP 121-04, SP 121-05,
SP 122-02, SP 122-03, SP 122-05.

For the second phase of the tour, Jim and Dave went acoustic without the bass and keyboard players. The additional acoustic guitarist for Al Stewart was also gone for most dates. Jim and Dave announced during this leg that there would be an album forthcoming sometime "next year". Appearances posted:
5/8/1998: Big Kahuna (Wilmington, DE) with Al Stewart
5/9/1998: The Shell at Trump Marina (Atlantic City, NJ) with Al Stewart
5/24/1998: Ballard Firehouse (Seattle, WA) with Al Stewart - cancelled
5/30/1998: The Catalyst (Santa Cruz, CA) with Al Stewart
The set list:
"World In Changes"
"Forty Thousand Headmen"
"Love Will Keep Us Alive"
Instrumental - with Al Stewart
Instrumental - with Al Stewart
"Let It Go, Let It Flow"
"The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys"
"You're Standing In My Light" - new song
"Seasons Of Change"
"We Just Disagree"
"You've Got A Hold On Me" - new song
"Happy Birthday" (crowd to Dave)
"Dear Mr. Fantasy"
"Feelin' Alright"
"Only You Know And I Know" - encore
"Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" (including the Beatles' "Dear Prudence") - encore
See the original postings: SP 133-07,
SP 134-02, SP 134-05,
SP 150-02.

At a Boston show in 1999, Peter Cetera's former drummer filled in for a sick Jim Capaldi. They performed all old songs, including covers of "Stormy Monday" and "Dust My Blues". The planned album was reported to be complete and due to be released in May or June, with appearances by George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Billy Joel. A summer tour was planned with George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
See the original postings: SP 150-07.

Magical Mystery Tour film (1968)

According to the book Encyclopedia Of Rock Stars (1996), by Rees and Crampton, Traffic was featured in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film. The book also said that the film aired on 12/26/1967. It turns out that Traffic was not in the final film, although Spencer Davis was. Rolling Stone magazine referred to this appearance in the 12/14/1967 issue, indicating that Traffic would be in the film performing "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush", and in the 2/24/1968 issue, well after the airing. New Musical Express reported in its 12/9/1967 issue that the Traffic bit was filmed but later edited out, and that in the bit the band was chasing a giant world globe down a hill.
See the original postings: SP 88-08,
SP 89-03.

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Revised through Smiling Phases volume 150.
The Smiling Phases Compendiums are compiled and edited by Stephen Smith, mostly from original postings by the many contributors to the Smiling Phases mailing list. See the linked SP references for the original postings in the Mailing List Archives.

Page created March 22, 1999.
Last updated December 15, 1999.