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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Live Album from Steve Winwood's Traffic.
"On The Road" captures highlights from Traffic's 1973 European tour in which the band was supporting what was then their latest album "Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory". Traffic was always considered a stellar live act whenever they would perform. What is heard on this album is no acception. For this album, Traffic consisted of its core trio of Steve...
Published on December 29, 2003 by Louie Bourland

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Skip it: not traffic's best
I would not recommend this disc: the jams are overly long, and can be repetitive in a not-very-exciting way. On most of the cuts there's too little guitar, and it's much too much horn driven. The studio cd's are way better.
Published 13 months ago by Douglas Kelban


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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Live Album from Steve Winwood's Traffic., December 29, 2003
By 
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
"On The Road" captures highlights from Traffic's 1973 European tour in which the band was supporting what was then their latest album "Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory". Traffic was always considered a stellar live act whenever they would perform. What is heard on this album is no acception. For this album, Traffic consisted of its core trio of Steve Winwood on piano, guitar and vocals, Jim Capaldi on percussion and Chris Wood on woodwinds along with additional support from drummer Roger Hawkins, bassist David Hood, keyboardist Barry Beckett and percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah.
As with every Traffic release, the music is very progressive-oriented and has many R&B and Jazz influences tucked away during its solo spots. With this being a live album however, the improvisations are even more expanded and showcase the band's super-tight musicianship. In particular, Steve Winwood in addition to his soulful lead vocals, takes centerstage with some solid piano work on the album's opening medley of "Glad" and "Freedom Rider" as well as in the funk-styled jams of the closing track "Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys". Elsewhere, he shows off some unparalelled lead guitar work on "Shoot Out's" title cut and Jim Capaldi's composition "Light Up Or Leave me Alone". The late Chris Wood gives this music an extra added jazz-fusion kick with his flawless sax playing which is heard in its best moments during the aforementioned opening medley and "Low Spark" as well as his own instrumental piece "Tragic Magic". As far as the rhythm section is concerned, it's difficult to tell who is doing what since there is an additional drummer and percussionist on stage besides Capaldi. Either way, the percussion trio of Capaldi, Hawkins and Rebop never falters throughout this album. Also, the addition of second keyboardist Barry Beckett gives the band a fuller sound and allows Winwood to stretch out on his piano and guitar without to do too much multitasking on stage.
All in all, this is a great live document from a great band. It captures the essence of what Traffic was all about when they performed live, solid musicianship from solid and serious musicians. This album as well as the "Feelin' Alright" compilation and the 1970 studio album "John Barleycorn Must Die" make an essential Traffic trilogy. Pick any one of these up and you won't be disappointed.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what the doctor ordered, February 25, 2005
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
'On the Road' was originally released on vinyl in the United States as a single disc with only four tracks. What is now a single CD includes the complete two album set and well over 70 minutes of music divied up among only 6 tracks (7 songs total as the opener is a medley). It's not only a great buy for the quantity, but for the unparalleled quality of the recordings. This is easily the finest live jazz-rock performance I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Steve Winwood had beefed up the core of Traffic by adding three of the four founding members of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, creating a tight and talented mega-band. By April of 1973 the band had been touring for several months in support of the sequel to 'Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys', the 'Shoot Out At the Fantasy Factory' disc. Five of the seven tracks offered here originate from those two albums. There is also a medley of two tracks from their previous studio album, 'John Barleycorn Must Die', 'Glad' and 'Freedom Rider'.

If I could pick a setlist of tracks to hear at a Traffic concert, I'm not sure I could have generated a much better one than we have here. 'Glad' is a tremendous opener, with it's spunky piano theme, vividly keyboarded by Winwood. Relieving Steve of his typical organ duties with Traffic through the presence of Barry Beckett also allowed him to rip off lengthy wah-pedal guitar solo's, impressively proving that his talents on the six string are grossly underestimated. Saxophonist Chris Wood is equally compelling, at times coaxing runs out of his horn that sound like he has his own wah-pedal hooked up to it. And the presence of three percussionists means there is no absence of rhythm, although the one studio track with the most prominent percussion, 'Shoot Out At the Fantasy Factory', for some reason tones down both Rebop Kwaku Baah and Jim Capaldi's presence.

Nearly every song on this disc flat-out rocks, with the exception of Chris Wood's instrumental 'Tragic Magic', which wasn't meant to. At the same time, each song features exploratory meanderings into the realm of jazz, which given your penchant for jazz either adds or detracts from their value. I find the tinkerings and improvisations illuminating, especially since the fundamental jams are still offered in abundance. The recording quality is also exceptionally well-done, with only a few occasions where Winwood's vocals are slightly muted. The bass may seem a bit heavy in spots, but it does a duty in keeping the jazz meanderings in line. There is a minimum of crowd noise.

My favorite track on the disc is the majestic and inspirational (oddly enough) '(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired'. While acknowledging the discouraging aspects of life, the song also offers the remedies, such as "You've got to smile and turn the other cheek, so today you might get up, but by tomorrow you'll be sailing". I believe in retrospect that the widely maligned 'Shoot Out...' album (from which 'Uninspired' is derived) has proven its mettle over time. This song, along with the title track, 'Tragic Magic', and 'Evening Blue' and 'Roll Right Stone' have aged extremely well. No doubt this is the finest live Traffic disc available, and given that 'Welcome To the Canteen' gave homage to Traffic's earlier personnel and compositions, 'On the Road' is exactly what the doctor ordered. It's magic, and it's not tragic. What was tragic was Jim Capaldi's death in January of 2005, which should only remind us that we have limited time to savor all he and the other members of Traffic produced. Buy this now.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would the REAL Traffic please stand up!, January 21, 2002
By 
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
I have bought 'On The Road' at least three times in vinyl, and again now on CD. Since I first heard it back in 1973 to this day, it never fails to move me. The emotion and passion in '(Sometimes I feel so)Uninspired', which peaks with Winwood's great vocals and guitar work, underpinned by a kick-ass rhythym section, says it all for me...whenever I feel a little sorry for myself, that track puts it all back together.
I liked this music so much, I sold my first hi-fi set up, hired a car, and drove down to Glasgow from Aberdeen, just to see Traffic play in 1974. Winwood was magnificent, playing keyboards, with a guitar on his lap, supplying pedal bass and singing all at the same time!
This is a live album; unlike most bands, Traffic actually play better live. It's as if they have re-worked and moulded all the songs through constant practice until the improvised, live versions sound far more mature and natural than the at times over-controlled studio versions. The Muscle Shoals session men are classy and professional, and must really have gotten a kick out of touring live, showcasing and blending in with such a greatly musically talented band. All in all, listening to the crowd cheering and whistling, and being given such a great show of live musicianship and raw emotion, makes me wish I had become a roadie and seen it all live for myself! Does anybody have a video of any of this tour?
If you like live albums, this is one of the great exponents of the genre - live and alive with some truly magical musical moments!
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Popular Music Album Of The Last 30 Years?, June 28, 2003
By 
A P Milligan (Liverpool England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
Hardly a modest claim, let's see if it can be justified? Firstly, I'd just like to deal with the review posted under the title "Plodding Traffic" ... notwithstanding a factual inaccuracy (Jim Gordon was long gone by '73) this is not "a band at the end of the road" but rather a band at the very pinnacle of their career.
I'd also argue the fact that this album sets the pattern for future supergroup live albums, simply because nobody else ever sounded like Traffic. Moving on ... I bought this album on vinyl back in '73 and despite the fact that thousands of other releases have passed through my hands in the 30 years since, this remains my favourite album of all time, by any artist and boy-oh-boy, there are some great ones it had to usurp. Musicianship is quite simply at a level seldom encountered within the popular music genre; even the Muscle Shoals guys (who provide 'support' on drums, bass and keyboards) ooze class. I have often cited this album as evidence that Steve Winwood is the greatest living rock artist. His vocal style is unique, his improvised piano playing a revelation and his distinctive guitar work at least equal to contemporaries such as Clapton and Page - just listen to him solo on Sometimes I Feel So Uninspired - talk about an ironic title. By the time that Island got around to recording Traffic, live in the Spring of '73, they were several months into a world tour behind their new studio album (Shoot Out) and these taped performances from gigs in Germany really do smoke. These guys are just so 'together' it takes your breath away! I personally consider every track on this album at least equal, but generally superior, to their studio versions ... and Traffic were a GREAT studio band too! The fact that the tracks are all comparatively long (anything from 7 to 20 minutes) is a blessing, yet I would have preferred some to be even longer! After playing this album quite literally thousands of times over 30 years I have never tired of it, even momentarily. Frankly, I don't feel that Winwood or Capaldi ever quite reached the musical heights of Traffic again, once they went forward with their solo careers ... despite a clutch of gems. Things just quitely came to an end for Traffic in '74 after When The Eagle Flies (another 5 Star release) and an appearance atthe Reading Festival ... then there was punk and, well, things were never the same again were they! So, if you fancy listening to seven groundbreaking and hypnotic songs, rendered with unprecedented and intuitive brilliance, in an incomparable style; look no further. If you don't love this release, you don't love music. One final word on this newly remastered version : yes, sound quality is much improved, for which I'm grateful. But, where are the extra tracks? Island recorded entire performances and those tapes ARE apparently still in the vaults ... this should have been extended to a 100+ minute double-pack. Shame on today's record company executives who always seem to put money/convenience before artistry. I suppose I'll just have to continue tracking down those dodgy audience tapes. From a bonus material viewpoint, the Traffic remastered series started well, faltered a little in the middle and then totally imploded with this last batch ... not a single extra track on any of the final three remasters. Unbelievable, utterly unbelievable.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 1970s Live Album, December 5, 2005
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
I bought this album in 1973 after it received an excellent review from Richard Williams in the London Times. Most Americans have probably never heard of Williams, but he was also a presenter on the Old Grey Whistle Test, an influential TV rock show in the UK. I was something of a rock snob and already owned Welcome to the Canteen so I had to buy this album. It's an album I still love, but it's not for everybody.

On the Road pushed Traffic into jazz / Grateful Dead territory. At times it can ramble and sound a little unfocused to people who like 3-5 minutes songs. The studio version of Low Spark was already 11 minutes long, but on this album it is stretched to 18 minutes. Back in 1973 most of my friends didn't really 'get' this album: Prog-rock and metal were king. So I have some reservations about recommending it whole-heartedly, but it has aged much better than most of the popular albums from that time.

By 1973,Traffic had become mainly a vehicle for Steve Winwood. Winwood plays guitar and piano and is in fine singing form. Winwood plays some excellent guitar solos but tends to noodle on piano. Capaldi and Rebop add percussion. Chris Wood contributes sax and flute. Wood and Capaldi contribute a song apiece.

For this album three Muscle Shoal players are added: Roger Hawkins (drums), Barry Beckett (keyboards) and David Hood Hood (bass). They are all master musicians and were used by Paul Simon on his There Goes Rhymin' Simon which also came out that year. It's Beckett's piano solo on Kodachrome.

The version of (Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired is one of my favorite all time tracks tracks. It's 11 minutes long, and builds slowly, starting with Beckett's piano and Winwood singing. The drums and bass then come in and Winwood then adds guitar. His solos are beautiful but not flashy.

I feel a little nostalgic for this era, when bands regularly experimented and pushed boundaries. Since the 1980s we have had shorter songs and fewer solos. Steve Winwood's glossy and pragmatic solo work is an unfortunate example of how things changed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Traffic Jams!, December 14, 2003
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
Traffic's live album from 1973, "On The Road," is an excellent, smokin' hot document of the band live in Germany during their tour for "Shootout At The Fantasy Factory." There's only six tracks on it, but Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood & the gang stretch this little batch of classic Traffic tunes into jamming heaven, such as the 20-minute workout of "Glad" and "Freedom Rider," and the supercool 18-minute treatment of "The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys." Everybody in the band gets to strut their stuff, the performances simply electrifying. The only debit is that the album leaves you hungry---certainly Traffic played more tunes in concert than just these. Nevertheless, "On The Road" is a great live album, and proof positive that Traffic were a mighty force on the concert stage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ignore Stars...should be 5 stars!!!!!!!!, June 22, 2003
By 
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
I would have to disagree with the previous reviewer. Just listen to "Light up or leave me alone" and this will dispel any notion that this album drags, this track ROCKS!! The guitar solo on '...uninspired' is anything but. I have been waiting for this album to reappear on disk for a long time. Welcome back, about time.

If you are new to Traffic I would probably steer you toward John Barleycorn must Die. If you are new to Traffic, this CD might be a little heady for most listeners. This is live Traffic and it is all about long improvisational jamming. Being a Deadhead, this is what "normal" music sounds like to me but most listeners might not be up to the challenge. Personally, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want this CD.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Traffic JAMS, December 4, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
It seems like there was an endless supply of good to great live albums in the 70s (Stones-Get your Ya Yas, J. Giels-Full House, Allman Bros Live at the Filmore, Who-Live at Leeds, ELP-Welcome Back etc. etc.) this is another good one. Kind of sloppy (in a good way) jazzy jams (Chris Wood was a really easy listen as a saxaphonist) from Traffic's matured phase (Low Spark, John Barleycorn, Shoot Out). Start with the studio stuff and if you like those, this is a great addition.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soulful, jazzy Winwood -- Traffic's best, November 30, 2000
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
It's simply not fair! How can one person write such great songs, play piano, sing with such a soulful voice and play such a mean lead guitar? Steve Winwood was an exceptionally talented musician of the 60s, 70s and 80s -- almost a Mozart of his genre -- and he provided the keyboards on the extended 'Voodoo Chile' on Hendrix's 'Electric Ladyland'.
This album showcases his voice and guitar-playing at their best. (His voice has a higher, less mellow pitch on the earlier studio versions of some of these songs.) There are some great extended versions here, particularly 'Low Spark'.
The recording quality is variable. The drums and tom-toms, for instance, are miked up very differently on 'Low Spark' compared to 'Glad', where they are much further down in the mix. Such are the vagaries of the live tour.
There ought to be a video of this German concert tour. I certainly remember seeing a video of 'Light Up' on 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' when this album was released back in 73.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Live Album Should Be, March 9, 2011
By 
kireviewer (Sunnyvale, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: On the Road (Audio CD)
This is the perfect example of what a live album should be.

This album was originally released in 1973 and comes from the Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory tour. In the US, it was originally released as a single album, with 2 tracks missing, Glad/Freedom Rider and Tragic Magic. In Europe, it was released as a double LP with all the tracks that are on the CD. I got the original US album and then had to go out and find the costly European import. The double LP was released in the US several years later.

The inner sleeves of the LP were stiff tagboard and contained humorous variations on European street warning signs (kind of Mad Magazine type thing). This artwork was not included in the original CD release, and I don't know if it is in the new remastered version. But, the rest of the original gatefold artwork is there, but shrunk down to CD size.

The sound quality of the original CD was OK but not great. It wasn't as bad as some early CDs, but certainly could use improvement.

This is simply what a live album should be. It is a group of songs that are played significantly different than the original studio versions. They are stretched out and played in interesting ways. Nothing is worse than a live album where all the songs are played just like the studio versions. All you get is inferior versions with background noise.

The songs are played by a well rehearsed band that really knows the material. The whole band recorded Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory, and many were on Low Sparks of High Heeled Boys. The band consists of the three main members, Windwood, Capaldi and Wood with a back up group of session musicians who have played on many top albums. But, they really aren't backup musicians; they are part of the band. Nothing is worse than a live tour featuring back up musicians who have not part of the band with the band or are familiar with the music, like on Bruce Springsteen's solo tour or Roy Orbison's Black and White Ball.

The audience noise is almost nonexistant while the band is playing. There is nothing worse than having audience cheering, whistling and yelling in the middle of a jam. This completely uncalled for. Audience noise does not come from the stage microphones. Special microphones must be set up to capture the audience noise and then that noise is mixed in. I don't need audience cheering to know when music is good.

The only downside to this album is that there could be more. During this tour, the group would play 2+ hours on some nights. They sometimes would do a very nice long version of the Roll Right Stones. And of course, they almost always played Dear Mr. Fantasy (but I think it is a good thing that it is left off here, because it is on just about every other Traffic/Winwood live album). Unfortunately for me, when I saw them on this tour they did not play that long and they didn't even play Low Spark!
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On the Road
On the Road by Traffic (Audio CD - 2003)
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