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Thread: Featured album: TRAFFIC - The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys

  1. #26
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulrus View Post
    I don't know how many others here caught the terrific mid-90s tour. It was just Winwood and Capaldi from the old days, but they brought along some great players and IMO recaptured the jammy-jazzy hippie-rock spirit and ethos that this album embodied. Shame it didn't lead to more music before Capaldi's untimely demise.

    I didn't catch that tour, but I did see a Dave Mason-Jim Capaldi show in the 90s. It wasn't amazing, but it was decent. However, I recall the review in The Scene which included the line, "Jim Capaldi looked like he had been dead for 10 years." It was a harsh way of stating it, but unfortunately true. I didn't stay tuned in to know how soon to then he passed, (or even that he had,) but he did not look well at that show.
    He did not know that the sword he'd hold, would turn his priceless empire into fool's gold...

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  2. #27
    Traffic live, 1994 Woodstock festival...


  3. #28
    Great album, but they improved on the formula for the follow-up Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory. The epic "Roll Right Stones" is fantastic and the high point of Traffic for me. If it had come first it would be the one held in high regard rather than "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys."

  4. #29
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Both this one and the debut are very, very good - but in a way they represent the "other" Traffic; halfway between 60s pop, psychedelia and folk-rock. I always considered that era of the band to end with the a-side of The Last Exit. But you're correct in that the songs themselves are sometimes strong as hell. This period, however, is arguably best represented by the excellent Best of Traffic compilation from late '69 which also contains a couple of their early singles.
    Yeah, agreed, but I'm not really a fan of those See-Emily-Play type of odd-ditties (not a fan of those Syd-era floyd pop stuff either). Even in those early album, I usually select the longer more instrumental tracks like Dealer, Mr Fantasy, etc... the type of stuff that survived in the second era of the group's setlists.

    Quote Originally Posted by yoyiceu View Post
    Yes, certainly, the pre-Blind Faith and the post-Blind Faith and post Dave Mason eras, although the live Welcome to the Canteen for me has much more energy and excitement than On The Road, helped along by the two songs culled from Mason's fantastic debut album. Although I love Low Spark and John Barleycorn, I do prefer the short first era. Later on Traffic became kind of a lazy jam band, in spite of the fact that, although they were very good musicians and had one great singer and composer, no one was really a great soloist.

    When Mason left, in a way, Traffic went through the same thing that Procol Harum went through when Matthew Fisher left after the first three albums, leaving Gary Brooker to carry most of the load, and what Roger McGuinn and the Byrds went through after David Crosby left.
    I never thought Mason brought a whole lot to the band, except for Headmen (if I never hear Feeling Allright? again in my life, I don't mind). I tried a couple of times his debut album and it (sadly) never rang a bell with me.

    Lazy jam-band??

    Oddly enough, OTR and the Sannta Monica film are hitting me very differently depending my mood. If really receptive, this grabs me and makes me delirious, but last time I played OTR (while OTR towards my mother's place a couple of weeks before the confinement), it was annoyingly tiresome - sonics in the car. I usually feel that OTR is great driving music in my Saab, but not in that rental car (which luckily had a CD player)


    Quote Originally Posted by yesstiles View Post
    Great album, but they improved on the formula for the follow-up Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory. The epic "Roll Right Stones" is fantastic and the high point of Traffic for me. If it had come first it would be the one held in high regard rather than "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys."
    That's the way I generally feel about SaFF: it's stronger (and more even) than Sparks, because it has no weaker tracks (Caoaldi's annoying Light Up)
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  5. #30
    Member Camelogue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mascodagama View Post

    Probably my second-favourite Traffic overall, after John Barleycorn.
    +1

  6. #31
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    I never thought Mason brought a whole lot to the band, except for Headmen
    That's Winwood & Capaldi's song. Maybe you're thinking of "Cryin' to Be Heard," which sits next to "Headmen" on the album and is probably the most "Traffic-y" of Mason's songwriting contributions.

    I've never been a huge fan of most of Mason's Traffic songs either, but as soon as he went solo he created a real masterpiece with Alone Together.
    New album THE HIPCRIME VOCAB available now!
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  7. #32
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    I usually feel that OTR is great driving music in my Saab, but not in that rental car (which luckily had a CD player)
    It's been clinically proven that the best thing to play in a Saab is SAHB.
    He did not know that the sword he'd hold, would turn his priceless empire into fool's gold...

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  8. #33
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    For me, Barleycorn is the band at its peak. A seamless synthesis of rock, folk, soul, even some funk & blues. And it ends up sounding proggy as well after all that. Not sure how but gawd... What an amazing album.

    Compared to Barleycorn, Low Spark feels like Traffic's attempt to make a mainstream rock album. And a good one too; the writing is strong and the playing is impeccable. But for me it never catches fire the way almost every track does on the former.

    After Barleycorn, my favorite Traffic tracks are all the great early singles. Not sure which albums they are on, as I only have a compilation CD set. But Paper Sun, Hole in My Shoe, 40K Headmen, Medicated Goo, a.o. All have the perfect balance of psych silliness, rhythmic drive, and strong melody. Not hard psych, not twee psych, but just right in the middle.

    I have as of yet to hear Shootout and Eagle Flies.

  9. #34
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    I bought a used CD of Far From Home years ago. I only remember liking one song from it. Mostly the album doesn't sound like Traffic. Guess I should revisit the album, but my memories of it are that it's crap.

  10. #35
    ^ Don't forget this one, probably among the defining Winwood tunes (and it's got the line "Life Is What You Make It" to boot):

    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  11. #36
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    It's been clinically proven that the best thing to play in a Saab is SAHB.
    yek yek

    Quote Originally Posted by Vic2012 View Post
    I bought a used CD of Far From Home years ago. I only remember liking one song from it. Mostly the album doesn't sound like Traffic. Guess I should revisit the album, but my memories of it are that it's crap.
    nah, you're about right (well it's average, not as bad as I was fearing either). Nothing to write home about, though the title track is reminiscent of Low Spark. A couple tunes are OK, but too little to really make ownable ((I don't)

    (BTW, the artwork & title are clearly reference to the recently-departed Chris Wood)
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  12. #37
    On Low Spark, what seems to be a distorted sax solo may be a distorted keyboard/organ solo.

  13. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Well, apart (of course) from Winwood's contribution to The Colour of Spring as guest musician, there's the slight soul-infusion and that unmistakable teaming of piano/organ which was so characteristic of TT at that point. Although I hear distant echoes of Winwood in Hollis' voice as well (even on Eden), I'd say the possible Traffic-infection was mostly over after Spring.
    Lol. This is SO much Traffic https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l3VqAsMXE7o

  14. #39
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adinfinitum View Post
    On Low Spark, what seems to be a distorted sax solo may be a distorted keyboard/organ solo.
    The long solo that makes up the third quarter of the track is definitely fuzz organ.
    New album THE HIPCRIME VOCAB available now!
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  15. #40
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    That title track was just so unlike anything else in the world - eleven minutes plus of a smoldering beat, impassioned vox, and terrifying instrumentals. One of my favorite "epics" of all time.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  16. #41
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    My favorite Traffic album.

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post

    Sadly, I don't think think the studio album, Far From Home, did. I don't associate Traffic with heavy 'production' and this album suffered from it. I assume this was to tie it in with Winwood's slicker solo career, but commercially that was on the wane by the mid 90s anyway.
    Far From Home is in sound and spirit a Winwood solo record. A decent one, but as you say, by the mid-90s that sound was on the way out anyway. I remember a magazine review at the time wondered why they even bothered using the Traffic name, and speculated that had the album been put out as by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi it would likely have sold double what it did. Most of the kids buying Winwood records in the late 80s likely had no idea who Traffic were.

  18. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    You can easily hear their obvious influence on someone like Talk Talk in that track.
    This is a point that had been missed by me, and I think you're absolutely right. Talk Talk took it several steps further, but the Traffic DNA is there.

    Thanks to this, now I'm queueing up Spirit of Eden and hearing the opening "The Rainbow". What a track... The sheer restraint they show on this song is so impressive; in places where I would have opted to go bigger/heavier, TT pulls back and makes the "chorus" quiet and intimate. It lends an eeriness that's difficult to put into words. This album is a masterpiece, IMO.

    When it comes to Traffic, Low Spark is my favorite song of theirs overall even if the album as a whole doesn't quite reach those heights for me. Low Spark was one of the first Traffic songs I heard as a teenager, and it made quite an impression. I'd only known of Steve Winwood for his 80s songs like Higher Love, and Valerie, so within the context of Traffic I learned there was a whole other side to him that I'd been oblivious to.

    That said, Higher Love is one of the best songs by anyone ever, IMO. Anytime I hear it, whether on the radio while out and about, in a movie, wherever it may be, it lifts my spirits. I'm not ashamed to admit that I love that one.

  19. #44
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Far From Home is in sound and spirit a Winwood solo record. A decent one, but as you say, by the mid-90s that sound was on the way out anyway. I remember a magazine review at the time wondered why they even bothered using the Traffic name, and speculated that had the album been put out as by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi it would likely have sold double what it did. Most of the kids buying Winwood records in the late 80s likely had no idea who Traffic were.
    Winwood solo: I like the debut (77) and his best (by a mile) About Time (03)

    dislike (even hate): Arc Diver, Talking Back High Life (except the fantastic Freedom Overspill, and don't care much for the others

    I tried in the late 70's Caoaldi d-solo and ut didn't click at all.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  20. #45
    Member Mr.Krautman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    The long solo that makes up the third quarter of the track is definitely fuzz organ.
    The "classic" fuzzed organ sound as used by M.Ratledge & Dave Sinclair. Definitely the best part of the album IMO, it gives some Canterburyesque vibe to the song. I remember I bought the album mainly for this track/section.

  21. #46
    Member Lou's Avatar
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    A brilliant recording and one of my all time favorites albums.
    A Comfort Zone is not a Life Sentence

  22. #47
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Overall, pretty lethargic and jam band-y to these ears; these guys simply didn't have the chops or ideas to stretch out. I saw them tour behind this album, and it wasn't much better "live," as I recall.

    Quote Originally Posted by yoyiceu View Post
    ... Feeling Alright?, 40 Thousand Headmen, Cryin' to Be Heard, Pearly Queen, Vagabond Virgin, No Time to Live... are all among their greatest songs.
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

  23. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by mogrooves View Post
    Overall, pretty lethargic and jam band-y to these ears; these guys simply didn't have the chops or ideas to stretch out.
    Wow! I totally disagree. But whatever floats your boat.

  24. #49
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    It's a hard pass for me as well.
    No humor please, we're skittish.

    Never let good music get in the way of making a profit.

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