Volume 180, sent Feb 2, 2000:
1. The Traffic Remasters
2. Session Work and Sundry Thoughts
3. Very Best Of Feelin' Alright
4. What other folks listen to
5. SW solo albums
6. Songbooks For Sale
7. Album ranking
8. Esoterica - Hole In My Shoe
9. RARE DAVE MASON UK 12" on EBAY
10. SP is moving!
From: Stephen Smith
Subject: The Traffic Remasters
Date sent: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 21:27:16 -0500
As a post-Christmas Breather gift to myself, like I need an excuse, I finally picked up the new Traffic remasters. Here are my musings on the bonus tracks for each title and on the general quality of this reissue project. Join me, won't you?
Traffic's first album and single releases resulted in several song variations attributable to US / UK, mono / stereo, and album / single differences. The bonus tracks here are the full set from the US (not UK) mono album release, complete with the music snippets from "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush" between songs. The Trafficologist covered the variations in SP 175-01, including two I didn't know or catch ("Berkshire Poppies" and "House For Everyone"). Awesome ears, Ted!
Very puzzling. "Withering Tree", "Medicated Goo", "Shanghai Noodle Factory" - one word - why??? Am I missing something here? These are available on Last Exit, which was originally cobbled together from singles and leftovers but has always been treated as a regular album. If Island plans to delete it or otherwise pretend it doesn't exist, why not include the other studio and live tracks? The inclusion of two tracks from Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush makes sense, but again why not include "Utterly Simple", which differs from the Mr. Fantasy album version? Go figure. There are other rarities out there that could have been included, like the alternate version of "Feelin' Alright?" released on the Dave Mason compilation.
JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE
Now here we find some treats and surprises! First, "I Just Want You To Know" right after "Empty Pages" reveals that the familiar segue from "Glad" to "Freedom Rider" may have had company in the original album concept. Second, "Sittin' Here Thinkin' Of My Love" answers the mystery of that title, which a subscriber found in the BMI database a couple years back. Both of these previously unreleased tracks sound like demo versions to me. I wish the compilers had resisted the temptation to sequence such a recording among the original tracks. Although interesting and informative, and I'm glad it's on this release, it detracts from the incredible set that we've known so long. The live tracks are a complete revelation, and it's great to hear live material with such good sound quality. The truncation of "Freedom Rider" is rather odd, but perhaps the remaining material from the unreleased Live November 1970 will finally be released at some point.
I'm leary of remaster projects which attempt to improve the CD sound of aging recordings which were intended for LP mastering. The most annoying effect is that "disembodied voice" thing so common in many of these projects. My poster child for the effect is Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son". Fortunately, the Traffic remaster project has been spared from this. Someone previously noted that tape hiss has been effectively eliminated. Some ambience has been stripped away along with the tape hiss, but the resulting sound is tight and dynamic. Hey, if you want a truly revelatory sonic and musical experience, go buy the original US LP and a good cartridge!
I totally agree with Roman's comments in SP 177-10. Brian Hogg's notes on Traffic's history are, well, adequate if nothing else. I would like to have seen a bit more depth and better editing for a significant project like this, including background about the previously unreleased tracks. Mr. Hogg covers Traffic's entire career across the three CDs, which would seem to indicate that no further remasters are planned for this project. Although John Barleycorn is my personal favorite, I would be amazed if Low Spark doesn't receive this treatment at some point, and I'd like to see the others as well. The inserts have some interesting photos of the singles and most or all of the original record jacket contents. Overall, a fine effort, and I like the low-key approach.
There are more rarities we know about, and lots more intriguing unreleased material in the vaults. I'm already looking forward to more!
From: Stephen Smith
Subject: Session Work and Sundry Thoughts
Date sent: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 21:47:50 -0500
It's now been over two years since I first seriously tackled the task of positively identifying all of Steve Winwood's session work. In the process, we've collectively learned about at least 10 additional session releases through contributions from SP subscribers and my own research, and even resolved a couple of stubborn mysteries. Wicked cool! I thank and congratulate everyone, as always, who has been part of that process.
One thing we've learned is that there's always more Winwood session work out there, and we'll probably never know about all of it! Now is a good time to look over the current listing, and see if you know about other sessions or can add further information, especially if you've joined Smiling Phases during the last two years. Contributions are credited! The Collaborations and Session Work area is accessible from the Smiling Phases site home page.
On another note, this is an exciting time for those of us who are die-hard fans. We're now seeing remasters of Traffic albums with bonus tracks, although 3-4 years behind everyone else (even later than usual - see SP 30-05!). Next month, we'll be treated to the same for Blind Faith with a new 2-CD set - I'm practically drooling for this one... Then we can look forward to Steve's new projects during the year. New old material, old new material, and new new material. Who could ask for more?
To Ted - Way to generate discussion on SW's solo albums! Keep it up!!!
To Keith - Thanks for the fascinating genealogy info!
Date sent: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 07:20:36 -0800
From: Joel Crawford
Subject: Very Best Of Feelin' Alright
Somebody Help Me!
What is the track listing for this February 8th release?
Date sent: Sat, 15 Jan 2000 19:30:06 EST
Subject: What other folks listen to
I was wondering and I am sure you have as well, what do other Steve Winwood fans listen to (other than Steve).
I e mailed Amy at the Nicksfix site and asked if Stevie Nicks had ever thought about doing any music with Steve. Her management group had thought about it and I was told only time will tell. I have a lot of Stevie Nicks music and I would buy the cd immediately. Her music is to me so personal and to hear both voices together would be great.
I have also got a few Jim Capaldi cds, at first because Steve had done session work or production- then the music had merit of its own. Capaldi is talented and the friend/cowriter had to have some magic to last as long as he has, when one hit wonders and teen idols fade instantly--Jim and Steve are still rocking and producing great music. I remember when Far from Home was released, VH1 had a little interview with both men and Jim's humor was infectious. I recall he said the reason he and Steve were still friends after 30 years was because they didn't speak to each other. Steve just looked at Jim with no verbal response. I cracked up.
Thank-you for putting up with my free verse, caffeine induced rambling.
From: "Christie, Paul (DASC)"
Subject: SW solo albums
Date sent: Mon, 17 Jan 2000 12:33:23 +1030
Scott, I'm glad to see another person really likes "Steve Winwood". It's just about my favourite solo album. I think one of it's good points is the quality of the sound - the fine drumming of Andy Newmark, the solid bass playing, the lovely sound of Steve's guitar and electric piano. It does have an open sound, and perhaps is the jazziest sounding Steve Winwood album. In that sense it feels closer to Traffic's later albums.
I would have to rank "Back in the High Life" above "Arc..." and "Talking...", although there was a time when I would have ranked Arc at no. 1. I feel that it has dated, and I find some of the instrumentation to be jarring to my ears - could be the synthesizers and/or drum rhythms. However, I have a soft spot for a lot of those songs. "Talking..." also suffers because of the general character of the sound of the instruments - I haven't listened to it right through in such a long time, so I probably should before I say too much more.
I did put on the track "Talking Back to the Night" recently, because I wanted to compare it with Joe Cocker's version on "Sheffield Steel". It's a great song, and I do think that Joe Cocker's version is excellent. Steve's version is more restrained, and heavy on the synths, as is the whole album. The Joe Cocker version also has prominents synths, played very nicely by Wally Badarou, and it has the added punch of Sly & Robbie on drums and bass. Joe sings it with a lot of feeling. Anyone else heard this version?
From: "Hisao Chida"
Subject: Songbooks For Sale
Date sent: Mon, 17 Jan 2000 19:40:38 +0900
I would like to sell these songbooks at $10 a copy including shipping cost. They Include the lyrics and chords:
1. Back In The High Life (Piano Score)
Warner Bros. Publications, 1986, 51 Pages; Contents: Higher Love / Take It As It Comes / Freedom Overspill / Back In The High Life Again / The Finer Things / Wake Me Up On Judgment Day / Split Decision / My Love's Leavin'
2. Chronicles (Piano Score)
Warner Bros. Publications, 1988, 68 Pages; Contents: Wake Me Up On Judgment Day / While You See A Chance / Vacant Chair / Help Me Angel / My Love's Leavin' / Valerie / Arc Of A Diver / Higher Love / Spanish Dancer / Talking Back To The Night
3. Roll With It (Piano Score)
Shoin Music Pub, 1988, 63 Pages; ISBN 4-8114-1164-1, Contents: Roll With It / Holding On / The Morning Side / Put On Your Dancing Shoes / Don't You Know What The Night Can Do? / Hearts On Fire / One More Morning / Shining Song (original color cover photos)
Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date sent: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 21:42:57 +1000
From: peter nuttall
Subject: Album ranking
Without getting too much into detail here is my ranking.
BACK IN THE HIGH LIFE: I like the energy generated by this album. I often play the first four tracks REALLY loud, it just gets me up and going. My Love’s Leaving is also a favourite, a beautiful song. I think the album stands up very well almost 15 years on.
REFUGEES OF THE HEART: Favourites here include Another Deal Goes Down and In The Light Of Day. I find the material pretty strong on this album and I like the overall sound.
ROLL WITH IT: Good production, good sound, good material and good musicians…good album. Doesn’t quite have the highlights of the first two.
STEVE WINWOOD: Melancholy, introvert, I love it. Vacant Chair and Luck’s In are my favourites
ARC OF A DIVER: Title track is my favourite, album sounds a bit dated now.
TALKING BACK TO THE NIGHT: This I find the most frustrating of albums. I agree in general with most comments on this one, a sameness and artificial sound to it. This could have been so much better (the remix versions on Chronicles for instance). Title track, Valerie and There’s A River my favourites.
JUNCTION 7: Lord Of The Street……….mmmmmm, that seems to be it. For me this is the biggest disappointment in all the years I’ve been listening to and enjoying Steve’s music. He’s in good voice, as usual, but I find the material weak, the sound bland and the production overdone. I seem to pass this one over every time.
One thing we have to remember here is that we are comparing albums that, for all of us, have different interpretations depending on where one was at in one’s life at the time, irregardless of the strengths or weaknesses of the material the music can still invoke emotions and feelings or memories we hold dear. Now that can be said of most artists, but we (SP subscribers I thought in particular) have chosen to listen to Steve’s music for the joy we get from it and I think we are more critical because of that, we are aware of the talent or potential that is there and sometimes under employed.
The bottom line is, I like all his music (with the possible exception of J7, I’m still struggling here) and they are all favourites in their own way. Put it this way, I would rather listen to TBTTN any day than a Billy Joel album, but that’s my taste (and an earlier discussion point). In the end I look at ranking the albums as a bit of fun and talking point, it’s interesting to see other people’s preferences.
I agree to some extent with comments on the one-man-band thing, though Steve was playing everything except drums on some early Traffic stuff, so I think it just depended on what was going on at the time as to how it came out. Far From Home is, for me personally, the best album that Steve has made since Traffic in’68. The musicianship on this album is first class, the material is the best that Jim Capaldi has come up with in years and the combination is just magic. There’s a bit of something for everybody on this album, maybe also a glimpse of how it may have been if only……………………
Then along came J7
From: Stephen Smith
Subject: Esoterica - Hole In My Shoe
Date sent: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 19:13:24 -0500
In SP 175, Ted the Trafficologist noted several song variations related to the Mr. Fantasy album. One was "Hole In My Shoe", for which the US mono album omitted the re-fadeout (for lack of a better term) at the end of most stereo copies of the song. Interestingly, I found that the version on the Traffic compilation More Heavy Traffic (1975) also omits the re-fadeout, although it is definitely a stereo track.
Date sent: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 22:31:40 -0800 (PST)
From: email@example.com (Jay Siekierski)
Subject: RARE DAVE MASON UK 12" on EBAY
Title of item: DAVE MASON OOP '77 4 SONG UK 12" PS/
The Sonics All Music Site Published By Jay Siekierski From S.F. Ca.
Date sent: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 09:31:54 -0700
Subject: SP is moving!
Some of you may remember that I announced back in December that this mailing list will be moving to OneList on February 1, and you may notice that although today is February 2, it hasn't moved. Well, computer troubles here at home have necessitated postponement. I didn't want to change SP over while I'm unclear if I'll be able to get on-line to clean up resulting messes. ;-) The fixes here should take place in about 10 days, and we'll start the changeover after that.
Meanwhile, if you'd like, sign yourself up to OneList now. There are 12 of us already testing it, and we're having a great time. To join, go to http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/SmilingPhases or, as always, just email me and I'll give you a hand.
End of Smiling Phases, volume 180