Date sent: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 17:28:55 +0200
From: Andreas Schneider
Subject: Traffic album remarks
My name is Andreas Schneider, I'm a bass player (and occasionally a singer/guitarist/pianist). Steve Winwood is one of my favourite artists in terms of showing a wide range of music in the past 35 years. As a Seventies-Prog-Rock-Freak I mostly enjoy "Traffic". Their first two albums are my favourites, they are an excellent combination of rhythm 'n' blues and psychedelic styles. The album Traffic shows maturity with excellent songs and using of improvisation-techniques. "Pearly Queen" has beautiful guitar passages, "Forty Thousand Headman" is great with its using of flutes and percussions and "No Time To Live" is a wonderful atmospheric early combination of jazz and rock. "Last Exit" has at least two brilliant interpretations of blues classics: "Feelin' Good" and "Blind Man". "John Barleycorn Must Die" has a wonderful title track and two strong openers. "Glad" is a good combination of jazz improvisation and rock rhythm. "Stranger To Himself" is spoiled by a weak production: The stereo channels are badly mixed. The guitar is separated on one channel, which would be okay for an early Sixties recording, but not for 1970 standard. The bendings of the guitar is weary and the sound is too. I like turn this channel away and do my own lead guitar over that!!! "Low Spark" is nice but has also boring passages. At least Steve improved his guitar playing on that record. I don#t like "Shoot At The Fantasy Factory" and the live double set. In my opinion their final album is better. "When The Eagle Flies" has some great songs: "Dream Gerrard" is a remarkable composition, probably one of their best. I also like "Graveyard People" with its ghostly atmospheric rhodes intro and the piercing modal moog(?) synthesizer soloing, which paints tight pictures with Capaldi's lyrics. Frightening impressions of concrete deserts in big cities might inspire these words. It dissolves in the friendly d major key of "Walking In The Wind". Like Pink Floyd - one of my other favourites - Winwood survived the late sixties in a more - not in a negative sense! - bourgeois life style . Both were probably shocked watching friends to be killed by drugs. Both had lived in that adventurous area but were far too sensible to become messiahs of their age. I also listened to the interesting different projects Winwood took part like Stomu Yamashta, Jade Warrior and John Martyn.
Date sent: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 11:29:53 EDT
Subject: Traffic CDs
I found a new Traffic CD on E-bay and I thought I'd give you a little review for the newsletter and again try to barter for some live Traffic tapes. Still looking for a good live recording of Traffic, either the trio or the Low Spark Band or anything in between. Studio version of "Blind Man" too. Anyway…
"The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys Sessions" - OMS Reel Recordings, Mexico. This is billed as out takes from the Low Spark studio sessions, thought it seems to have other stuff as well. The sound quality is excellent except for the alternate mix "Rock & Roll Stew" extended version which is curiously distorted. 12 tracks pretty much suitable for die hard fans only:
1) Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, alternate take 2/9/71. Not really that different from the real version except that Chris Wood's electric sax is replaced by lethargic noodling.
2) "Rock & Roll Stew" alternate take, 5/19/71. Same words & progression as the actual take but the feel of the song is completely different. Almost a different song entirely. Interesting to see how the song evolved over 3 months time.
3) "Rainmaker" Different mix 5/19/71. Pretty much what it says.
4) "Rock & Roll Stew" different mix 8/25/71. This is (I guess) the full version from the English 45. As mentioned above, it is somewhat distorted (overmodulated) though certainly listenable. The instrumental ending not included on the album version is not particularly memorable. If this is indeed the extended 45 version, you haven't missed much.
5) "Light Up or Leave me Alone" different mix 8/25/71. Mostly, the difference is Capaldi vocalizing a bit during the instrumental sections.
6) Jam #1, take 2. Personnel not really listed but it sounds like Winwood, Gordon & Grech sounding sorta like Blind Faith. Interesting take but just a jammy thing.
7 & 8) Jam #2 & 3 w/Muscle Shoals Horns. Not sure who's playing what beyond the obvious. The rhythm section certainly seems to be the Alabamy boys and I'd bet on Winwood on guitar and maybe organ. Shoot Out meets a horn section.
9 & 10) "It's So Hard" Capaldi & Gordon. Capaldi & (Gordon) playing acoustic guitar, fleshing out the song. For die hard fans only.
11 & 12) "Easter Weekend" Same as above.
Traffic - A Group, A Dog, A Ghost, Live @ The Fillmore West 6/30/70, Colosseum. - Barely Passable audience recording. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring, Every Mother's Son, Medicated Goo, Pearly Queen, Dear Mr. Fantasy, John Barleycorn, Empty Pages, 40,000 Headmen, Glad, Freedom Rider, Can't Find My Way Home, No Time To Live. Good performance, Empty Pages seems particularly inspired.
Date sent: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 14:01:47 EDT
Subject: "Arc" instruments
Hey- I'm a huge Traffic fan- covered John Barleycorn in Keyboard magazine (I do a column called Key Tracks) and I was just checking your website out. Very cool! I'm looking for more info on the recording of Arc of a Diver, so I figured I'd ask if you knew where I could look. I'm mostly interested in instruments played- which synths, etc. I appreciate your response~
ps- on your least favorite list, I can't believe you listed "Spanish Dancer" and "Secondhand Woman"! Arc is a great record, and I wouldn't call those songs uninspired. As to favorites, put my vote in for Roll Right Stones and Many a Mile to Freedom, amongst about a hundred others...
Date sent: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 21:50:31 -0500
Subject: Early Capaldi/Mason
I have gotten a hold of several of the compilations which have the early Capaldi/Mason groups the Hellions and Revolution, as well as the compilation with the Mason group the Jaguars. These comments are in reference to the SP page Discography: Mason, Capaldi, and Wood
1) (I think I may have sent a message on this one before) On THE PICCADILLY STORY (2 CD) SEQUEL NED 240, there is no pre-traffic involvment whatsoever. In particular there is no Hellion tracks on this and it should be taken off the list.
2) Brum Beat on Sequel NEX 251 has The Hellions: Daydreaming of you AND The Revolution: Hallelujah
3) On THE STORY OF OAK RECORDS Wooden Hill WHCD 007, wile the Jaguars' Now you wonder why is on the CD, the liner notes cast doubt as to whether this group contains Dave Mason. I quote from the liner notes the relevant passage: "It has been suggested elsewhere that the single 'We'll live on happily' b/w 'Now you wonder why' recorded in February 1965 by the Jaguars, featured a pre-Traffic Dave Mason. Certainly Mason was in a Midlands-based group of the same name, but it seems likely that the bunch featured on this anthology were from the South London area." It is very vague to say the least. The notes do not mention the other group members. From listening to the track I can not tell whether it is our Dave Mason or not. So unless there is more definitive information, I suppose an asterisk on this one is order.
That's it for now.
Date sent: Fri, 5 May 2000 07:44:42 -0700
Subject: Birthday and eGroups
If you have birthday greetings you'd like to extend to Steve, please email them as soon as possible! I have only 9 in the folder so far, and would like to have at least 30. I probably won't print and send them for another week at least, so don't think you've missed the deadline. ;-)
The Smiling Phases eGroups list is humming along nicely. If you'd like to subscribe to it, go to http://www.egroups.com/subscribe/SmilingPhases and follow the directions; if you have any problems, email me and I will subscribe you to it myself. The style is much more conversational and immediate. At one time, I had intended on moving this whole list over to the eGroups, but I have since changed my mind. I think we are better served by having both lists, one moderated and severely on-topic, the other unmoderated and more free-ranging; most people on the eGroups list are on this list as well and are not overwhelmed with volume. The eGroups list averages about 2-3 posts per day.
End Smiling Phases volume 183