Long Time, No Listen – Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die


So last night on my way to work at Target, I decided to listen to an album that I haven’t listened to in a long time, Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die. I think that I only have one Traffic album in my vinyl collection Welcome to the Canteen. John Barleycorn Must Die was the band’s fourth album and Welcome to the Canteen was the fifth. Traffic disbanded in 1968 as Dave Mason embarked on a solo career and Stevie Winwood left to join Blind Faith (that one’s in the collection, hum, maybe that deserves a listen, too) with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. After Blind Faith disbanded after only six months. Winwood reformed Traffic with Chris Woods and Jim Capaldi and recorded John Barleycorn Must Die. It was probably their most successful album peaking at number 5 on the Billboard Charts. The album showcased the band’s jazz and blues talents and introduced their folk talents!  The first three tracks “Glad”, “Freedom Rider” and “Empty Pages” along with the title track are my  favorites. Listening last night I was impressed with Chris Woods flute solos and Winwood’s keyboard work on those tracks.

After the release of John Barleycorn Dave Mason rejoined the band and they toured a little. The shows were recorded and released as Welcome to the Canteen. That album’s track list included Traffic mainstays like “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Medicated  Goo”  and “Forty Thousand Headmen” along with two tracks from Mason’s solo album Alone Together  “Sad and Deep as You” and “Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave”. Also included was “Gimme Some Lovin’” from Winwood’s time with the Spencer Davis Group.

After work I went to Napster and listened to Mason’s album Alone Together  (which is in my vinyl collection) and remembered how much I liked that album. Probably the  best known track on that album is “Only You Know and I Know”. But the other tracks like the two listed above and “World in Changes”, and “Look at You Look at Me”. are just as good. Mason had a lot of friends helping on the album including Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell, Jim Capaldi, Rita Coolidge, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon. But the best thing about the album was that it was not black vinyl, about 30% of the album were a swirled mix of pink, brown and beige!

Here’s Traffic with “40,000 Headmen”

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