Tag Archives: Traffic

Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam, World Tour, 1967-2014

The music of Dave Mason has floated in and out of my consciousness since 1967. My introduction to Dave Mason began with Traffic’s second album, Traffic. I became infatuated with English cottages and the structure of well written jams.

After Dave Mason left Traffic the second time, he took a journeyman’s path to Southern California recording a great solo album Alone Together in the process. I own the marble swirl vinyl edition.

He also recorded a wonderful collaboration with Cass Elliott that is now “out of print”, Dave Mason & Cass Elliott.

Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam, World Tour is coming to Hamden, Connecticut on Friday August 1. It is a free outdoor concert. If you are in the area you won’t want to miss it.

The “Traffic Jam” concerts will feature hits and deep album cuts from 1967’s Mr. Fantasy and 1968’s Traffic albums and additional Traffic jams plus new material and a selection of classic DAVE MASON music.

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Traffic – My Favorite British Rock Group

Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains. It serves as a framework grain and is used to support sand as a land mass.

Traffic is analogous to sandstone when it comes to the foundation of rock music. Progressive rock music’s roots can be directly traced to the group. We  owe a world of gratitude to Traffic’s founding members, Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood for the music they gave us.

Traffic is my favorite English rock group. The music they created appealed to my senses on so many levels. They first permeated my consciousness as folk rockers with their pivotal first two albums. Traffic showed evolution with the next phase building on folk music by adding healthy amounts of jazz improvisation with their comeback smash, John Barleycorn Must Die.

Traffic Studio Recordings

Traffic entered the English rock music scene at the same time as Cream, Jethro Tull and The Yardbirds (just to name a few) in 1967. I discovered Traffic in late 1968 when they released their second recording, Traffic. (See my earlier blog post, Traffic’s Second Studio Recording – Traffic for more details).

I soon purchased their first recording, Mr. Fantasy. I wrote about the variations of that recording in a past blog post (See Traffic’s First Recording – Mr. Fantasy). “Dear Mr. Fantasy” appeared on the first recording and it is a signature song by Traffic.

My favorite gem on Traffic’s Last Exit (May 1969) was the track “Medicated Goo”. Nonsensical as the lyrics were the music busts a move to this day.

Traffic Live

I was very fortunate to see Traffic live twice in concert. We had great seats each time, seventh row, center. I wrote about that experience at The Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY which has just reopened as a magnificent new art deco experience. (See past blog post, Capitol Theatre in Portchester NY Plans Triumphant Return in 2012, Part 1)

An excellent live recording(Audio and Video) by Traffic is contained on The Last Great Traffic Jam recorded from the 1994 Traffic reunion concert tour.

The Traffic Icon

I have always found the Traffic icon to be compelling. I was never quite sure what it meant or how it was typified. I just know I loved its concentric woodsy nature. I have a leather edition of this symbol which I wore as a hippie necklace in the day 😉

Mr. Fantasy – The Lyrics of Jim Capaldi

Just this past week I received a surface mailing postmarked from Malta. It was a literature piece advertising the Genesis Publications Ltd., Mr. Fantasy The Lyrics of Jim Capaldi. This specialty book is a true collectors item. The price is very rich for my blood $345 British Pounds, $560 in US Dollars. Mr. Fantasy is in full bound leather, with silkscreen artwork and gold blocking. It is hand-made to order, numbered and signed by Steve Winwood, Aninha Capaldi and Robert Plant. Places it on my Christmas list just in case 🙂

Mr Fantasy: The Lyrics of Mr Fantasy

Capitol Theater in Portchester, NY Plans Triumphant 2012 Return, Part I

The concert venue that started me on my journey to attend live music events for 42 years is the Capitol Theater in Portchester, NY. It was a haven of great music in the early 1970s. I attended 12 concerts there from 1970 through 1974. I am elated to learn The Capitol Theater will resume its preeminent role as a concert venue in our market in 2012.

The New York Times music section featured an informative article yesterday about The Capitol Theater titled, “Live Music to Return to a Storied Theater” by C.J. Hughes. (See Related articles link below).

The gist of the article is that Peter Shapiro who owns the Brooklyn Bowl plans to produce 100 performances a year there. The Capitol will undergo a two million dollar, four-month renovation project. This could translate into a late spring/early summer grand re-opening. Peter Shapiro is also the publisher of Relix magazine, which provides excellent coverage of the jam band scene.

I’ve never been to the Brooklyn Bowl but my son has and he really likes the venue. I am a long time reader of Relix. The magazine does a fine job of covering the alternative and rock music scene. Peter Shapiro is very well-connected in the music industry and this bodes well for us concert goers. The addition of The Capitol to the New York/Connecticut market sharpens the competition for the concert dollar. I think this may cause a couple of existing promoters to be more price competitive now.

The proximity of The Capitol Theater in Portchester, NY was beneficial for Fairfield County Connecticut residents. The lower drinking age of 18 just across the state line made it additionally attractive to go to shows there. Portchester was more adjacent than The Fillmore East in the East Village of New York City. I find it amazing that Howard Stein was able to book so many premium top rock acts at The Capitol in lieu of New York City and Bill Graham’s organization. Its going to get interesting with Connecticut having so many venues in 2011, such as the casinos, The Ridgefield Playhouse, The Klein and The Fairfield Theatre and Infinity Hall. My concert dance card will be full later on in the 2012 season. 🙂

The NY Times Capitol Theater article motivated me to finally write my reflective Capitol Theater music blog post. In order to do the topic justice I will write The Capitol Theater blog post in two parts. As as faithful progressive music listener I had heard The Capitol Theater radio advertisements on WNEW-FM 102.7. My second concert at The Capitol was Traffic, Silver Metre and Swallow on June 27, 1970. We attended the 8 p.m. early show. I was fortunate to be able to buy tickets in those days at a local head shop in Norwalk, Ct. The shop owner always offered us seventh row center seating.

The English Rock Groups at The Capitol Theater

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Traffic and Jethro Tull were my favorite two bands in 1970. I recall that Steve Winwood wore a long sleeve white shirt that was covered in silver stars. It was a shirt I would later buy at that same head shop and wear the next time we saw Traffic, much to Steve Winwood’s chagrin. Traffic consisted of Steve Winwood on Hammond B3 organ, guitar and vocals, Chris Wood on saxophone and flute and Jim Capaldi drums and vocals.

Notice on the bootleg cover that Steve Winwood is wearing the shirt I mentioned in the picture from that night. The two songs I remember the most from Traffic’s set were “40,000 Headmen” with Chris Wood playing the flute and “Pearly Queen”, which featured Steve Winwood performing a riveting guitar solo.

Our third concert was Jethro Tull, McKendree Spring and Livingston Taylor which again was an early show. Jethro Tull featured their third album Benefit that night. It was my second time seeing Jethro Tull (the first time was at The Fillmore East in July of 1969). It was our first Livingston Taylor concert. Little did we realize we would see Liv nine more times in later years. We bought his first record on Capricorn Records the following day as we fell in love with his music and charming wit.

I am going to go out of chronological order here to collect the acts we saw at The Capitol Theater under the proper headings. We saw Traffic again on Halloween night, 10/31/70.  By then Traffic was increasing strongly in popularity due to FM airplay and the chart success of John Barleycorn Must Die. We noticed that the audience was more enthusiastic the second time we saw Traffic. It felt like a band I had treasured for my listening pleasure was beginning to move out of my reach. But isn’t that the way its supposed to work in music industry circles.

We experienced this again six months later with Jethro Tull on 4/27/71 at the late show. Aqualung was receiving lots of accolades from the music critics and was getting heavy airplay on FM stations like WNEW-FM and WPLJ-FM out of New York City. My request to interview Ian Anderson and the band for our local college radio station was turned down the day of the concert by their publicist. She felt we were too small a radio station and market for the fast rising Jethro Tull. The audience was ravenous for Tull that night and I could feel the band being swept along by the success of Aqualung. Having been a loyal fan of Jethro Tull for three years I should have been psyched for their greater acceptance instead of feeling like others were tearing them away from our midst.

It proved monumental that The Capitol Theater served as the launchpad for the fueling rocket success of Traffic and Jethro Tull in America.

Part II of my music blog about The Capitol Theater early concert years will be posted tomorrow. It will cover the San Francisco era with such bands as Santana, The Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Traffic’s Second Studio Recording – Traffic

Traffic’s second studio album was titled Traffic. It became available from United Artists Records in the United States, October 1968. This was the first Traffic album I purchased. I love this recording on so many levels. This recording really broke Traffic as an international recording sensation.

Traffic (Traffic album)
Image via Wikipedia

The synergy of these four musicians generated a memorable and counterbalanced recording. The most well known track was “Feelin’ Alright” which was written and sung by Dave Mason. Dave Mason wrote  50% of the 10 songs on the original album. Winwood/Capaldi wrote the other 50% with some help from Chris Wood on “Who Knows What Tommorrow May Bring”. Dave Mason was with Traffic from May of 1968 until October. It was never quite clear what the real conflict was between Mason and the other band members. As a result Dave Mason never toured with the original Traffic in America.

I first saw Traffic at the Capitol Theatre in Portchester. NY on October 31, 1970, Halloween night. The stage was ringed with lighted Jack O’ Lanterns to celebrate the occasion. I was mesmerized by the Hammond B3 organ playing, crisp vocals and stellar guitar playing of Steve Winwood. When he strapped on his guitar and stepped out to play “Pearly Queen” I was blown away by his dual mastery of two major instruments.

The interplay between Winwood, Jim Capaldi on drums and Chris Wood on flute, saxophone was totally engaging. I had listened to Traffic for two years. I wasn’t ready for their immediacy nor how well their brilliant collaborative style meshed in person. Jim Capaldi was a syncopated but never overwhelming drummer. To get a true sense of how Traffic sounded in November, 1970 listen to the second disk on the Deluxe Edition of John Barleycorn Must Die, recorded at the Fillmore East.

 

 

Traffic’s First Recording – Mr. Fantasy

Traffic

If I had to pinpoint the music genre that best typifies the signature sound of Traffic it would be primarily jazz rock fusion. When I hear the beginning stride piano intro to “Glad/Freedom Rider” or the signatures used on “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” an improvisational jazz feel abounds. The secondary characteristic of Traffic’s sound is English folk rock.

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The first Traffic recording, was titled Mr. Fantasy distributed on Island Records in the UK. Like most English imports the song tracks varied between the U.S. domestic release and the English album.  Traffic’s USA LP release, titled Heaven Is In Your Mind was on United Artists Records. When Traffic’s record label, Island re-released Mr. Fantasy in 2000 on Audio CD. It was then that the UK and USA releases were synchronized, eliminating the disparity of the tracks, in stereo and mono.

Original UK album

  1. “Heaven Is in Your Mind” (Jim CapaldiSteve WinwoodChris Wood) – 4:16
  2. “Berkshire Poppies” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:55
  3. “House for Everyone” (Dave Mason) – 2:05
  4. “No Face, No Name, No Number” (Capaldi, Winwood) – 3:35
  5. Dear Mr. Fantasy” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 5:44
  6. “Dealer” (Capaldi, Winwood) – 3:34
  7. “Utterly Simple” (Mason) – 3:16
  8. Coloured Rain” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:43
  9. “Hope I Never Find Me There” (Mason) – 2:12
  10. “Giving to You” (Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood) – 4:20 (album version)

Mono bonus tracks from the US 2000 CD release

  1. Paper Sun” (Capaldi, Winwood) – 4:15
  2. “Giving to You” (Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood) – 4:12 (different U.K. mono single mix, with lyrics sung by Winwood)
  3. Hole in My Shoe” (Mason) – 2:54
  4. “Smiling Phases” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:43
  5. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” (Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood) – 2:18
Back Cover

Original US album (Heaven Is In Your Mind)

  1. “Paper Sun” (Capaldi, Winwood) – 3:26
  2. “Dealer” (Capaldi, Winwood) – 3:13
  3. “Coloured Rain” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:46
  4. “Hole in My Shoe” (Mason) – 3:04
  5. “No Face, No Name, No Number” (Capaldi, Winwood) – 3:38
  6. “Heaven Is in Your Mind” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 4:22
  7. “House for Everyone” (Mason) – 2:05
  8. “Berkshire Poppies” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:59
  9. “Giving to You” (Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood) – 4:18 (mono version of the U.S. album has the different U.K. single mix, with lyrics sung by Winwood)
  10. “Smiling Phases” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:44
  11. “Dear Mr. Fantasy” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 5:33
  12. “We’re a Fade, You Missed This” (Capaldi, Winwood) – :53

Stereo bonus tracks from the US 2000 CD release

  1. “Utterly Simple” (Mason) – 3:17
  2. “Hope I Never Find Me There” (Mason) – 2:09
  3. “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” (Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood) – 2:35
  4. “Am I What I Was or Am I What I Am” (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:32
Original English Cover, which became the ultimate album/CD cover
Island Records
Image via Wikipedia
US Cover

Cover (Heaven Is in Your Mind:Traffic)

Jimmy Miller produced this album and Eddie Kramer engineered it! How’s that for a dynamic duo for ya 😉

For more insight into what this period in music was like refer to the Rolling Stone Magazine Archives All Access section to read about the early days of Traffic with articles by Al Kooper, Jann Wenner and David Dalton (Cover Story).


Jim Capaldi &Traffic

This morning I received an interesting e-mail from Genesis Publications. They are a limited edition, specialty music book publisher from England that “produce lushly designed rock photo books.” – N.Y. Times

I received advance notification of a book title of keen interest to my music collection.  Mr. Fantasy, The Lyrics of Jim Capaldi. I greatly admire and respect, Jim Capaldi the backbone of Traffic.

There was a time in my life (1968-1971) where the only two bands that mattered were Jethro Tull and Traffic. I was a fervent fan of these two English music groups. I went to their live concerts at the Fillmore East and the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, N.Y. 

I even bought an exact replica of the stars shirt that Steve Winwood is wearing on stage in this photograph. It caught him by surprise that I was wearing that same shirt in the audience (7th row center) on the evening that this set list was based upon. Notice that Scott Muni introduces Traffic that night 😉 (A correction to the dates of these recorded June shows, they were June 26 & June 27 ,1971, I know I have the ticket stubs to prove it!)

File:WNEW1027.pngTraffic was a special group with a magical mix of musicians. I learned about Traffic by listening to the radio show, Things From England that Scott Muni hosted on WNEW-FM102.7 on Friday afternoons. WNEW-FM, a Metromedia affiliate out of New York City had a major influence on my musical tastes. WNEW-FM’s progressive rock format created an intellectual music platform that we devoutly followed all hours of the day and night.

My favorite Traffic album is Traffic (1968).

File:Traffic (album).jpg