The big seven-man lineup of Traffic that appeared on Welcome To The Canteen was short-lived, as founding member Dave Mason departed for the third and final time in 1971. However the three new additions to the band remained, giving them the lineup of Steve Winwood (vocals/keyboards/guitar), Chris Wood (sax/flute), Jim Capaldi (percussion/vocals), Ric Grech (bass/violin), Rebop Kwaku Baah (percussion) and Jim Gordon (drums). The band's new studio album came out the same year.
The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys refined the group's blend of genres, resulting in an excellent and distinctive fusion of progressive rock, folk and jazz. It had only six songs, but they were long and complex, most notably the title track, which extended to over eleven minutes with a succession of instrumental solos. Though there were six members, bandleader Winwood was handling a large portion of the instruments, playing all the guitars and keyboards himself, as well as singing. Meanwhile Capaldi's role as a musician was lessening, though he did write or co-write most of the material, and also got to sing lead vocals on two songs.
The album didn't chart in the UK, but over in the US it got to #7, and went gold the next year. However this artistic highpoint of the band was not to last, as before the year was out both Grech and Gordon had departed. Shortly after this Winwood was taken ill, and Traffic ground to a standstill.
Welcome To The Canteen (1971) <|> Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory (1973)
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