Stevie Winwood formed the band Traffic in 1968 after leaving the very successful Spencer Davis Group as their front man, from the age fifteen! Based in the West Midlands, Winwood left The Spencer Davis Group in favour of forming Traffic, having previously jammed with Capaldi, Woods and Mason.
Second album by Traffic
This second album by Traffic draws on the psychedelia of the US west coast and has loads (and loads and loads) of ideas in it. Hammond Organs, flutes, percussion everywhere, saxophones, what a mix, blimey! The album feels very staged with set piece tracks and does not really flow as neatly as I would prefer but it still sounds overall pretty exciting. I’m not sure if it because I’m listening with a new Acoustic Research UA-1 headphone amplifier but there is lots of detail in the recording, for example percussion in ‘Vagabond Virgin’ and the blowy flute in ‘40,000 Headman’.
The organ and other keyboard work on this album is superb, improvised and crazy, it really comes though the music and almost defines it. ‘Who knows What Tomorrow May Bring’ and “Feelin’ Alright” being prime examples.
This detailed and percussive background sound may well be down to Jimmy Miller, the producer of this time who had completed Beggars Banquet earlier and has a clear eye for detail. Jimmy Miller is to go on and produce the Stones’ best work as well as Ginger Baker, formerly of Cream. Indeed , the slightly staccato Pearly Queen (Winwood’s first contribution to the album), is very Cream/Clapton-esque. Very enjoyable album overall and defibately worth a listen.
Released – 1968
Rating – 8.5
Favourite Track – Feelin’ Alright (Mason), Crying to be Heard (Mason), Pearly Queen (Winwood)