Traffic: Live At Santa Monica
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Le groupe rock anglais légendaire TRAFFIC capté «live » à Santa Montica en Californie en 1972. STEVIE WINWOOD et son groupe interprètent 8 morceaux, dont leurs tubes THE LOW SPARK OF HIGH HEELED BOYS, DEAR MR FANTASY, JOHN BARLYCORN... Des documents sur ce groupe sont rares. Ce DVD est un événement ! Signalons que le mixage stéreo du concert est du célèbre producteur et homme d'a aires CHRIS BLACKWELL, fondateur du mythique label ISLAND (BOB MARLEY, FREE, NICK DRAKE, BURNING SPEAR....).
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I own everything by Traffic (which unfortunately isn't much) but I've never read up anything on the band or done any research whatsoever (well, thinking nobody else liked the band) and had never even heard of this recording until I accidentally came across it listed on Amazon just a few weeks ago. How to get it became a bit of an issue as Amazon no longer mails packages to South Africa (where I now live) because the thieving bastards in this country's post office steal foreign packages.
I finally twigged to get it from UK and got to listen to one of my top bands in their prime. I have the Traffic Jam DVD, which is itself outstanding but in a completely different way to this no-frills performance. I like to see bands both in their prime, and preferably young looking, and this recording fits the bill on all counts. What I don't like is backup singers, a brass section and alternative guitarists and drummers, or MTV-style editing.
I tend to suffer from incurable over-expectation - I've been disappointed by so many live recordings, not necessarily because they're bad, but just hyped up in these reviews. Not so with this one. One couldn't ask for anything different.
I usually also have had enough of one band after an hour or so - and this was one of the few that I REALLY wished there was more to watch at the end.
A few observations:
* I was amazed at the role of Jim Capaldi, which was negligible, and don't know what to make of it. In this case, there WAS a replacement drummer.
* I expected Steve Winwood to look all geeky and gawpy (based on photos on album covers), but he looked quite the virile rock star.
* For all his lack of stage activity, I believe Steve has an amazing presence. I bought Eric Clapton's Crossroads just for the Steve Winwood section - whenever he's on stage the performance is just amazing, which makes it all the harder to explain why his solo music is so average (on a par with Phil Collins in my estimation).
* The only below-average song I thought was John Barleycorn. It's one of my favourite songs and for the first half I though his voice was weak. But he changed gear and ended on a real high note. Mr Fantasy was a highlight for me, as it always is. Makes my hair stand on end.
No Traffic fan should be permitted to be without this recording.
This concert really sounds as good as they did on the studio records! They are jamming on every tune . I wish they would release more of this concert because they recorded much more than the 10 tunes here. Oh well. Maybe someday. All of us Traffic fans know that their isn't a lot of extra recordings out their. I know that Steve has talked about the studio and live out takes, but still today they haven't seen the light of day. Cris Woods wife say's she has found stuff that is REALLY great. Maybe someday we will get more. But that is even more reason why you should buy this concert! Traffic is and was the one of the very best bands ever. 1967- 1974.
Steve Winwood's playing and singing here as good as ever. To get to see Traffic with this line up is very special. The band is very tight. Who cares if Steve doesn't jump around or as someone here said his stage presences was not that great! All Steve ever cared about was playing killer music. He plays over 12 different instruments! His voice is like no one else. And yes today he still can wail and play as good as he did when he was 15 years old with The Spencer Davis Group!
40,000 Headman and Freedom Rider and many other of Traffic's great songs are on here. Winwood's guitar playing is under rated. . He sadly never got credit for how wonderful he could play the guitar. He just builds and builds, never a wasted note. Rebop is something else to see here. All the musicians here are playing their hearts out! Very hippie style 1960s clothes and a lot of fun the see and hear again and again.
I am the biggest fan of Winwood and his band Traffic and I know you will love this so buy it while you see a chance take it!
Interesting fact: Taylor Hackford was the producer on this (according to the end credits). Must've been some early pre-feature work of his?
The Pros: For the time era, the camera angles are on the money, meaning that the shots are on who they're supposed to be on WHEN they're supposed to be on. When someone solos, the camera's right there focusing on that player, unlike most concert footage from that era (think Don Kirschner as an example of getting it all wrong). Bravo. In addition, useless audience shots are dismissed, which makes this a treasure for that alone (again, think Don K.).
Nearly every song from the magnificent 'John Barleycorn' album is played, which was a seminal LP of the 70's. 'Low Spark' is also included, another fave of mine. The only two additional tracks are '40 Thousand Headmen' and 'Dear Mr. Fantasy', staples from their formative Dave Mason-era days, when they were still a psych-rock act and hadn't yet embraced the laid back folk and jazzier realm represented here.
The Cons: Unfortunately, this is more like watching a rehearsal than a concert - the audience is never addressed, thanked, or spoken to - they're ignored completely. There's not even one "And for our next tune..." nada, zip, zilch.
It's one thing to see artists totally absorbed in what they're doing, but being completely dismissive of those who paid to see you play is another matter altogether. There's no connection whatsoever between audience and artists, and this makes certain moments uncomfortable.
The band isn't even playing for each other (which would make ignoring the audience tolerable, like when you watch a Miles Davis concert) - every principal player is in his own world and never looks at, interacts with or acknowledges his bandmates at any point - it's every man for himself. Distressing.
Audio is weak - Winwood's voice, which tends to be thin and reedy live, is not all that audible over the other players when it needs to be. The opening vocal line to '40 Thousand Headmen' is ruined entirely by harsh feedback, and his vocal delivery on 'John Barleycorn' leaves much to be desired. He never breaks a sweat or emotes one iota. He's not belting it out the way he could on, let's say, 'Gimme Gimme Good Lovin', 'Can't Find My Way Home' or 'Had To Cry Today' as just some examples of what he was capable of, that's for sure. Bummer.
As great as the material is, the band is self-confined to a slow simmer all night, and at no point comes to a full boil until 'Dear Mr. Fantasy', which is a friggin' shame - these tunes deserve better. And Winwood's guitar playing also left me wanting more, both in tone and substance. Truth be told, the best performance is by Rebop, the newly hired yet essential gun in the band.
Don't get my criticisms wrong, this is still worth checking out, mainly due to the lack of footage available from this legendary group, let alone at this juncture, but after reading all the 5 star reviews, I thought I had stumbled onto the video Holy Grail for Traffic fans. 'Not the case, but due to the lack of there being much better around the marketplace, we'll have to take what we can get. Not exactly rush-hour Traffic, but still a smooth, laid-back Traffic jam. 3 1/2 stars.