After what was supposed to be Steve Winwood's first solo album turned into a Traffic reunion (John Barleycorn Must Die), the band reunited and went on tour, adding a fourth member in bassist Ric Grech (originally of the band Family, he had recently played with Winwood in Blind Faith). Then in 1971 they expanded further with drummer Jim Gordon (best known as a member of Derek & The Dominos) and percussionsit Rebop Kwaku Baah, plus an old friend - founding member Dave Mason. Traffic had always before been stretched thin over just four (or three) members, but with this new talented seven-man line-up they promised to be a spectacular live unit. They went on tour in '71, and their next album was a live one.
Welcome To The Canteen had just six tracks, a song from each of their first three albums, plus two Dave Mason numbers which had recently appeared on his solo debut, and a new arrangement of the Spencer Davis Group classic "Gimme Some Lovin'". Winwood and Mason were the stars throughout, the former on keyboards and the latter on guitar, though they both traded guitar solos on the 11-minute "Dear Mr Fantasy" jam. Mason sang lead on his two songs, which proved perfectly suited to be given the Traffic treatment. Strangely, Jim Capaldi, the original drummer and percussionist of the group, was relegated to tambourine, as two of the new members had between them stolen his job.
Though it could be accused of not having the best sound quality, Welcome To The Canteen is an excellent album, showing what the new big Traffic line-up could do. It was actually a flop in the UK, but in the US managed to get to #26. The new line-up would not last though, as after just six performances Mason left the band again, for the third and last time.
John Barleycorn Must Die (1970) <|> The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (1971)
More from Traffic