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4.8 out of 5 stars
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One of the finest albums the original quartet produced their second self titled album captures the musical diversity that Traffic was capable of creating. When the trio fo Winwood-Capaldi-Woods began recording their second album Dave Mason decided to join them in the studio. The resulting tracks were so strong that the members decided to allow Mason to rejoin. Mason provides some of the second album's highlights with his single Feelin' Alright a magical 3 minute portrait of the band's best qualities.
That isn't to slight Winwood. He also (in collaboration with Capaldi and Wood)wrote some of his finest material for their second album. The band sounds more cohesive (if that's possible) than on either Mr. Fantasy (the first UK album) or Heaven Is In Your Mind (the reconfigured Mr. Fantasy and their first US album).
The inclusion of bonus tracks is always welcome but the UK version of this album was a bit odd. While it's understandable that Island would want to include as much single and b side material as possible the inclusion of the band's first single on their second album was a bit jarring to say the least. Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush doesn't fit in with the band's second album.
Supervising producer Bill Levenson has reconfigured the UK release to more accurately reflect the band's sound at this time. The sound quality is outstanding. Levenson's reissue doesn't sound quite as overprocessed as the UK release. The liner notes are informative without overdoing it. Although it isn't mentioned if this is a 24 bit remaster on the cover art the sound quality rivals that of the Uk release but still retains the organic sound of the original vinyl and source tapes.
Traffic isn't the band's best album (John Barleycorn Must Die still stands as the band's definitive statement) but it is the best album recorded by the original quartet. Hopefully Island will remaster and reissue the rest of their catalog (particularly the fine late period albums Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and When The Eagle Flies. Here's hoping that Welcome To The Canteen is also remixed to improve the sound quality of the original live tapes)shortly. This great UK band is finally getting their due in the digital age.
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on July 24, 2002
Traffic had one of the most original (and interesting) sounds in British rock, and not only because of their eclectic musical influences, which embraced psychedelia, folk, jazz, soul, R&B, and even classical. Their unique sound was also the result of their unusual instrumentation. While the group went through a number of personnel changes, its constant core members were Steve Winwood (vocals, keyboards, guitars), Chris Wood (sax, flute, and organ), and Jim Capaldi (drums & percussion). With no regular bass player, Winwood often filled in with the bass pedals on his organ. And, while there is no lack of guitars on most Traffic recordings, the guitar is not emphasized or particularly important to the group's sound. Dave Mason came and went in their early years and, on other recordings, Steve Winwood would switch to guitar, with Chris Wood taking over organ duties. In short, Traffic was anything but your typical guitar-bass-drums rock outfit. And, with "white Ray Charles" prodigy Winwood at the helm, and with their willingness to experiment with virtually any sound or musical style, they cut some of the most distinctive and important records in British rock.
Their sophomore album, "Traffic," perfected the band's sound, and stands as one of the best albums in British rock. Psychedelic influences were still evident, but gone was the silly "Sgt. Pepper"-style trippiness of "Mr. Fantasy." Instead, Winwood and Capaldi perfected their jazzy take on psychedelic-soul, while Dave Mason turned in by far his best contributions with the group. Mason's "You Can All Join In" and "Feelin' Alright" (later popularized by Joe Cocker) are folk-rock gems, while Winwood's genius shines through on the whimsical but very funky "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring" and the swampy jungle-rock epic "40,000 Headmen." Furthermore, in contrast with the cut-n-paste nature of Traffic's other LPs with Dave Mason, here there is real collaboration, as when a Mason folk-rocker climaxes with Winwood's soulful wailing on the refrain or the bridge ("Don't Be Sad," "Cryin' To Be Heard"). The overall result is a delicious paradox: a recording that is wildly eclectic, yet artistically cohesive.
If you haven't heard "Traffic," all I can say is, you don't know what you're missing.
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on August 5, 2001
John Barleycorn Must Die is a great album and I have a soft spot for Traffic's debut, but as far as I'm concerned they peaked on their self-titled second album. It strips away much of the psychedelia of Heaven Is in Your Mind, leaving a tasty mix of blues-rock, R&B, folk, little bits of classical, and even country -- all focused into short, tight songs. Between five great Dave Mason originals and five classics penned by the rest of the band, there isn't a dud present. Especially noteworthy are the dreamy "40,000 Headmen" (nice flute playing by Chris Wood), the classic rock staple "Feelin' Alright", and Dave Mason's cheery "You Can All Join In", and the meaty blues-rock of "Pearly Queen". If you like late 60s British rock, this album is absolutely essential.
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on May 23, 2003
How much fun is this!
This CD serves as a great time piece of an era gone by, that's not meant to be bad or good, just an observation. The way the recording production is handled and the mix, it's impossible to find this sound today without going back. I get so much joy from so many recordings between 1967 and 1975 that I am somehow tied to that era and this CD does not disappoint. The craftsmanship and playing is so relaxed and natural, the effortless style and vocal harmonies mixed with Winwoods beautiful organ work creates an infectious summertime cool breeze feeling. The mood is mellow throughout (with a upbeat groove) but not in a pretentious attempt at creating something "cool" it is simply what happens when great musicians create music with joy and skill.
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on July 24, 2002
Traffic had one of the most original (and interesting) sounds in British rock, and not only because of their eclectic musical influences, which embraced psychedelia, folk, jazz, soul, R&B, and even classical. Their unique sound was also the result of their unusual instrumentation. While the group went through a number of personnel changes, its constant core members were Steve Winwood (vocals, keyboards, guitars), Chris Wood (sax, flute, and organ), and Jim Capaldi (drums & percussion). With no regular bass player, Winwood often filled in with the bass pedals on his organ. And, while there is no lack of guitars on most Traffic recordings, the guitar is not emphasized or particularly important to the group's sound. Dave Mason came and went in their early years and, on other recordings, Steve Winwood would switch to guitar, with Chris Wood taking over organ duties. In short, Traffic was anything but your typical guitar-bass-drums rock outfit. And, with "white Ray Charles" prodigy Winwood at the helm, and with their willingness to experiment with virtually any sound or musical style, they cut some of the most distinctive and important records in British rock.
Their sophomore album, "Traffic," perfected the band's sound, and stands as one of the best albums in British rock. Psychedelic influences were still evident, but gone was the silly "Sgt. Pepper"-style trippiness of "Mr. Fantasy." Instead, Winwood and Capaldi perfected their jazzy take on psychedelic-soul, while Dave Mason turned in by far his best contributions with the group. Mason's "You Can All Join In" and "Feelin' Alright" (later popularized by Joe Cocker) are folk-rock gems, while Winwood's genius shines through on the whimsical but very funky "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring" and the swampy jungle-rock epic "40,000 Headmen." Furthermore, in contrast with the cut-n-paste nature of Traffic's other LPs with Dave Mason, here there is real collaboration, as when a Mason folk-rocker climaxes with Winwood's soulful wailing on the refrain or the bridge ("Don't Be Sad," "Cryin' To Be Heard"). The overall result is a delicious paradox: a recording that is wildly eclectic, yet artistically cohesive.
If you haven't heard "Traffic," all I can say is, you don't know what you're missing.
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on March 11, 2014
I bought this LP, along with Ogden's Nut Gone by Small Faces and Shine On Brightly by Procol Harum on a bright fall day in 1968 and have never had a better music purchase day. This is Traffic's follow-up to Mr Fantasy and it finds them hitting their groove, just in time to split up. Aw, well. This one is totally brilliant and you can hear its influence in many, many rock bands tunes ever since. The Traffic sound is here in all its splendor with the vocals of Winwood and Mason, the unique drumming of Capaldi, the atmospherics of Wood, Mason and Winwood's instrumentation. Every song is great: "All Killer - No Filler" and the best ones are ridiculous: "Feelin' Alright", "40,000 Head Men", "Pearly Queen". You can put this one up and just let it play for hours and its just gets better to you. 1968 in miniature.
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VINE VOICEon November 22, 2014
This is truly one one the great albums of the psychedelic era of Rock and Roll. Traffic was a legendary band that had many truly great songs which were often released in later years with average or just above average music so you had to listen to the average at times to hear the brilliant songs tucked in there. Not so this release. Like their album release, "Heaven is in Your Mind," the "Traffic" album is truly brilliant with lush sounds that remind one of the far East and psychedelic lyrics. These sounds were part of the psychedelic era when the Beatles were also experimenting with those Eastern sounds. The vocals on this album are so original and striking that you can't confuse their work with anyone else's work. Dave Mason and Steve Winwood in this era truly produced some of the finest rock music of all time, their songs being re-released later by other bands and becoming big hits all over again.
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on August 4, 2006
Back in the day, I had every Traffic album. I only recently picked up this one again. I'd forgotten what a classic it is. In retrospect, it's more like Dave Mason backed with Traffic, but that's a pretty good billing in my book.

The greatest feat here was the lifting of the veil of psychedelia that permeated their first release. As much as I still love Mr. Fantasy, the cohesion that Traffic produced for their sophomore effort solidified their greatness, making this album their most accessible record. It manages to balance a myriad of musical genres from psychedelia ("Vagabond Virgin") to country ("You Can All Join In") to straight-up rock and roll ("Pearly Queen") to the folky/soft-rock stylings of Mason's solo work ("No Time To Live").

What makes "Traffic" even more impressive is the incredible use of layering to produce a rich, complex tapestry of music. Generally speaking, overdubbing tends to muddle and confuse music, but it was done in such a well calculated way here that it actually enhances the overall feel of each song. It's clear there was a focus here that didn't really manifest itself ever again. That's not to say that Traffic's later work was academic or pedestrian by comparison, but the effort to establish themselves as top-notch composers is most evident on this record.

Traffic's sound changed so much over their relatively short catalog that it is difficult to point newcomers to a particular album as a good starting point. In fact, this album may be the one most unlike any others with the possible exception of John Barleycorn.

I rate this album with five stars not so much because it's my favorite Traffic album (it's not), but because of the obvious clarity of purpose they put forth. There are no weak songs here. Every one could stand alone as a picture of brilliant song writing. This is absolutely a must have for any fan of the era and/or genre.
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on May 16, 2000
The most irritating aspect of remasters is when some fledgling archival A&R man (person), in this case Tim Chacksfield, (re-issue project co-ordinator) comes along and tinkers with the actual chronological order of these great musical offerings. Having recently purchased the first three Traffic albums/CD's (Dear Mr. Fantasy/ Traffic/ John Barleycorn ...) in the remastered state, I found that a lot of love and care had been put into the remastering of and repackaging of Traffics best music (minus of course The Low Spark...)but why must music from one project always be included out of context into that of another. Case in point are 'Here we go around the Mulberry Bush' and 'Am I what I was or am I what I am' which did not come from the end of the first phase of this band but from the very beginning of Traffic where S. Winwood was just leaving the 'Spencer Davis Group' and of course sacrifices two realitively great songs one by D. Mason and the other by S. Winwood which are "Just for you" and "Something's got a hold of my toe" respectively which will now end up as the 'great lost' Traffic songs. The aforementioned songs (Here we go...) would have been best served by being included within the context of the first Traffic album where they really came. To have a fraction of "The Last Exit" offered this way is a real disservice to Traffic, but then I guess I really can't see the reissue of 'The Last Exit' as an album in its own right since it was just a collection of B-side singles and snippets left over from a band that had just finished. Still the studio tracks were/are worth hearing. All and all an inspiring task undertaken but not a great undertaking (as compared to the job done on Dear Mr. and John Barleycorn...)still nice to hear a cleaned up version of 'Medicated goo' which was a b-side to 'Feelin alright' which is an all time classic from D. Mason. Fantastic reproduction of the original album covers, one gets a good sense of why the American audience was always confused as to why there were four members to Traffic and not just the three as advertised by UA records here in America. This is truly a missed band.
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on January 17, 2004
It is unbelievable to me how this classic album of innovative musical gems wasn't included in Rolling Stone's top 500 records of all time.It just floors me...
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