I have to admit that of all the Dave Mason recordings I enjoy Let It Flow the best. It was released in 1977 when I was running a record department at Caldor discount department store in Stamford, Ct. The record sold well and I featured it prominently in the department.
I recall vividly that I had just purchased a high fidelity separates audio system with a state of the art turntable, preamp, amp, tuner and KEF speakers. Let It Flow played often on that system that Spring and Summer in South Norwalk where we lived. We especially loved his hit, “We Just Disagree”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
The first Traffic recording, was titled Mr. Fantasydistributed 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.
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).
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
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!)
Traffic 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.