Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die (1970)

Traffic were a British rock band active from the late 60s to the early 70s. Their line-up changed numerous times, but the three constant members throughout their career were the core trio of Steve Winwood, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi.

Traffic originally broke up in early 1969, with Steve Winwood going on to form the short-lived super group Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech. After that band’s dissolution, he was back by himself and working on a solo record. His old Traffic bandmates Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood were brought in to help, and in the end it became a Traffic reunion album (though without Dave Mason). It proved to be their most mature and consistent record to date, with a sophisticated fusion of rock, jazz and folk music. The title track was an arrangement of a traditional English folk song, and the other five songs were written either by Winwood alone or by Winwood and Capaldi. It was a success, getting to #11 on the UK album charts, and #5 in the US.
However a closer look at the personnel of John Barleycorn Must Die reveals something interesting - despite being released under the Traffic name, it actually almost is a Steve Winwood solo album. As well as singing all lead vocals and writing all the music, he played pretty much all the instruments himself. Capaldi only drummed on four out of the six songs, and Wood’s sax and flute are only on three of them. Almost all of the instruments you hear are played by Winwood. If it had been released under his name, it would surely have been hailed as a fantastic start to a solo career (which otherwise didn’t begin until 1977), showcasing his diverse talents as singer, songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist.

Last Exit (1969) <|> Welcome To The Canteen (1971)
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1 comment:

Bruce Taylor said...

Yes - the track "Empty Pages" was entirely sung performed by Winwood, using overdubbing.