The Smiling Phases Compendium:|
The Smiling Phases Compendiums are a synthesis of information posted in the Smiling Phases mailing list. It's a summary of what SP contributors found interesting, what they asked and others answered, and what has come together through combined efforts. Some material is a re-iteration of the original SP postings, but many are newly written and some include additional tidbits for completeness or clarification. Topics covered elsewhere on the Smiling Phases and official Steve Winwood sites are generally omitted here, as are reviews, commentary, and favorite / least favorite songs. This synthesis is intended only to aid researchers, and authorship is attributable only to the original contributors of the referenced and linked SP postings for each topic.|
The Smiling Phases Compendiums are compiled and edited by Stephen Smith, mostly from original postings by the many contributors to the Smiling Phases mailing list. See the linked SP references for the original postings in the Mailing List Archives.
Information is grouped into linked topics within each page. Source postings are referenced by SP volume and posting. For example, SP 58-04 refers to post 4 in SP volume 58.
Steve Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group to form Traffic with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason. These other original members were in a series of related bands before coming together in Traffic. The link between Steve Winwood and the other original members of Traffic seems to be his connection to Jim Capaldi. Jim's and Steve's fathers played together in dance bands in Birmingham during the war years.
Dave Mason played in the instrumental group Jaguars. The band released one single, "We'll Live On Happily" / "Now You Wonder Why", which appeared on the compilation The Story Of Oak Records.
Mason and Capaldi were joined by Luther Grosvenor (guitarist, later of Spooky Tooth) and Poli Palmer (keyboards, later of Family) in a group called The Hellions, with Mason as their vocalist. They released several singles: "Daydreaming Of You" / "Shades Of Blue" (1964), "Tomorrow Never Comes" / "Dream Child" (1965), "A Little Lovin'" / "Think It Over" (1965), and "Hallelujah" / "Shades Of Blue" (1966). The "Hallelujah" single was released under the name Revolution, without Mason or Capaldi. "Hallelujah" was a gospel song, which can also be heard on Sequel's CD Midlands Beat Groups Of The 60s, but the flipside was beatier. "Dream Child" can be heard on Visions Of The Past, Volume 3, and "Tomorrow Never Comes" appeared on the Sequel compilation Quick Before They Catch Us.
Chris Wood was in a band called Locomotive, which was was fronted by Norman Haines and also included Chris Mercer and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Chris may not have recorded with this band, but some of their recordings seem to be available. One of their singles, "Mr. Armageddon", appeared on Not Just Beat Music 1965-70 and on The British Psychedelic Trip, Volume 2 (or Volume 1 of the corresponding CD series). Another single, "Rudi's In Love", is available on See For Miles' 20 One Hit Wonders. The recent Shoestring CD reissue of their album We Are Everything You See comes with 12 bonus tracks, including all their non-album singles.
The Hellions became Deep Feeling with the addition of Gordon Jackson on vocals and guitars. The group also included Chris Wood. Jackson made solo recordings in the late 1960s which included Traffic members. Deep Feeling was a very popular experimental rock group in Birmingham, which prominently featured vibes and flute. Mason seemed to be the nominal, if temperamental, leader of that group. The group is not known to have recorded an album. Steve jammed extensively with the band, though, inspiring the formation of a new group that would always be moving in new musical directions, Traffic.
Capaldi and Mason did some duties as Spencer Davis Group roadies as well. Capaldi contributed a drum track to the reworked US version of Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'", which really propelled the recording to a more exciting level.
Prior to the Mr. Fantasy album, Traffic recorded three tracks for a film called
Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush: the title song, "Utterly Simple", and "Am I
What I Was, Or Was I What I Am". RPM Records re-released the soundtrack on CD in 1997.
The version of "Utterly Simple" on Mr. Fantasy is a different recording from the
earlier version on the soundtrack for Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush.
Most reissues of Mr. Fantasy have been the original UK version, but the original US version differed substantially. The US version, United Artists UAS 6651, included "Paper Sun" (short version), "Hole In My Shoe", and "Smiling Phases", but omitted "Utterly Simple" and "Hope I Never Find Me There". The last 45 seconds of "Paper Sun" was placed at the end of the record as a separate track called "We're A Fade, You Missed This". Between all of the tracks were snippets of music from "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush". Interestingly, Dave Mason was not in the photos or listed as a member of the band, and both of the omitted songs were his. The three songs added were earlier singles. The Canadian version of the album, Reaping, was the same as the US version less two tracks. The US version was reissued on CD by Island 3D in the UK about 1993, but with "Paper Sun" intact (long version) and without the snippets. "We're A Fade, You Missed This" and the other three US version tracks appeared on the US promotional sampler CD Traffic Control, Island PR-2300-2.
The full track listing of the US version was, on side one, "Paper Sun", "Dealer", "Coloured Rain", "Hole In My Shoe", "No Face, No Name And No Number", "Heaven Is In Your Mind", and on side two, "House For Everyone", "Berkshire Poppies", "Giving To You", "Smiling Phases", "Dear Mr. Fantasy", "We're A Fade, You Missed This".
The front cover is a photo of Steve, Jim and Chris sitting cross-legged in a triangle on a small sheep-skin rug. Steve is up front with Chris behind him on his right and Jim behind him on his left. Steve wears an Indian style white shirt, which contrasts with Chris' and Jim's outlandish mod clothes. Chris wear a flowered shirt, neck scarf and suede vest, and Jim has a reddish-orange paisley shirt. The back cover is a photo of all three standing in a triangle in sculptured English garden, Capaldi on right holding 2 sticks like canes in his hands, Winwood in center with left hand in coat pocket and right hand clenched like he could be holding a cane and Wood on left smirking with one hand on his chest and the other holding a branch.
The original UK mono version of Mr. Fantasy differs slightly from the stereo
version on some tracks. The guitar solo at the end of "Heaven Is In Your Mind", probably
played by Mason on the stereo version, is different and probably played by Winwood on the
mono version. On "Giving To You", the chatter at the beginning of the mono version is "I
said it's like, er, stop makin' it man, it's like, er, it's er, er, you know what I mean,
er, jazz", while the stereo version has "is is is, you know where it's at, I mean, you
know, I mean, I mean you know where I'm at, but I mean jazz".
Winwood related the story behind "Mr. Fantasy" in a Rolling Stone magazine interview by David Dalton from 5/3/1969: "Actually how it started was that Jim did a drawing during the time when we were thinking about cover ideas for the first LP. And Jim drew a picture of this guy who was Mr. Fantasy with hair like the Statue of Liberty, he had on a long robe and he was playing a guitar with strings coming from his fingers, and by the side of it Jim had written: "Dear Mr. Fantasy, sing us a tune / Something to make us all happy / Do anything, take us out of this gloom / Sing a song, play guitar make it snappy". Just these four lines scribbled out at the side, just a single poem for the front cover. And then Jim flaked out and Chris and I stayed up all night and then got the thing together. And we set a live mike on a stage in the studio. We tried sitting in the little boxes and cans, but it just didn't work for this number. It wasn't half so strong after we'd done it. It was time that gave it a lot of meaning."
In the book Stevie Winwood & Friends... (Music Sales Corp., also Collier, 1970), Winwood provides a little more insight: "["Dear Mr. Fantasy"] was done on impulse with practically nothing worked out, because it was almost jammed. The initial spirit of the whole thing was captured on record - which is very rare. That was one of the things, because it is not specifically an outstanding melody or an outstanding chord sequence or anything. It's basically quite simple. They're very simple lyrics and they're repeated three times."
Some songwriting credits on the Traffic album changed between the original LP and
the more recent CD reissues. The credits for "Vagabond Virgin" changed from Mason/Capaldi
to Mason/Wood, and the credits for "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring?" changed from
Winwood/Capaldi to Winwood/Capaldi/Wood.
Dave Mason left Traffic while they were recording the tracks for this album. His song
"Just For You" also appeared as the b-side of his first solo single, "Little Woman"
(Island, 2/1968), in the same version. Mason played acoustic guitar on "Shanghai Noodle
Factory" and "Withering Tree". His style is very different from Steve's and is easy to
recognize. The bass parts are more difficult to identify, but Winwood probably played on
"Shanghai Noodle Factory" and Mason probably played on "Withering Tree". With a few
exceptions like "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Means To An End", where there are two guitars,
Mason played most of the lead guitar in Traffic. On "Something's Got A Hold Of My Toe",
Mason probably played lead guitar and perhaps bass as well. The screeching sound on
"Withering Tree" is Chris Wood's flute, with some tinkly cymbals tagged on. "Medicated
Goo" was recorded as a trio, since Mason had left Traffic by that time, and he is not on
the live tracks, "Blind Man" and "Feelin' Good".
Some of the writing credits on the album appear to be unusual. Jimmy Miller has
co-credits on three songs: "Shanghai Noodle Factory", "Something's Got A Hold Of My Toe",
and "Medicated Goo". He wrote lyrics on "Medicated" and probably on "Shanghai" as well.
On "Something's", Jimmy may have simply come up with the title, or (less likely) maybe the
tune was written around some words of his but no vocal got recorded. Another odd
songwriting credit on this album is Fallon on "Shanghai Noodle Factory", although the
Smiling Phases compilation only credits Winwood / Capaldi / Wood. Fallon is apparently
Larry Fallon, a producer, arranger, and songwriter on various albums since 1968.
The original recording of "Feelin' Good" is on the soundtrack CD Roar of the
Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd (1965). The song was written by Anthony Newley, the
darling of the London stage scene in the 1960s, the Bert Bacharach of the UK.
"Blind Man" is a Bobby Bland song. He may be one of the authors also, using a pseudonym as
he did on all of his songs. There are many covers of this song, mostly in the blues genre.
The credited writers, Scott and Malone, may be the same two who wrote "Turn on Your
Lovelight", one of the Grateful Dead's most popular covers. "Blind Man" was written by
Deadric Malone and Joseph Scott.
"Shanghai Noodle Factory" is inexplicably listed as 7:58, rather than the actual 5:04, on
later LP and all CD copies of Last Exit. Also, the album was originally released
with two different covers. The alternate cover had a large Traffic logo with inset
The original US and UK releases of Best Of Traffic had slightly different tracks.
The US LP included "You Can All Join In" while the UK LP included "Smiling Phases". Most
US copies have the short version of "Paper Sun" while others have the full version.
Traffic briefly disbanded when Steve Winwood left to join Blind Faith with Eric Clapton,
Ginger Baker, and Rick Grech. The other members of Traffic joined with Wynder K. Frog,
whose real name is Mick Weaver, to form Mason Capaldi Wood & Frog. Frog was a vocalist and
exceptional organist. They played together for about a year until Steve started work on a
solo album called Mad Shadows. When Capaldi and Wood became involved, the album
became Traffic's John Barleycorn Must Die, and Mason Capaldi Wood & Frog was
abandoned. There are no known recordings of that group, though they did play live dates in
the winter of 1968-1969. The name Wooden Frog may also have been used, and they may have
played material which was later released on Dave Mason's Alone Together. Wynder K.
Frog's second album, Out Of The Frying Pan (1968), was reissued on CD in 1996.
Chris Wood also played on the first Fat Mattress album, which was self-titled and released
in the summer of 1969. The group was formed by Noel Redding, formerly of the Jimi Hendrix
Experience. At that time the British music press was equally hyping the new offshoot
groups Fat Mattress and Led Zeppelin, formed by Jimmy Page of the Yardbirds. Fat Mattress
survived through just two albums that sold very poorly.
"John Barleycorn" is the main song of a soundtrack for a very successful Italian movie
called "Nirvana" by film maker Gabriele Salvatores.
An SP subscriber described a magazine article that featured photographer Richard Polak,
who took the photograph on the inside gatefold sleeve of John Barleycorn Must Die.
The photo was an experiment with infrared film, which was new at that time. The picture
published in the magazine is orange, yellow and green. Another photo in the magazine is a
shot that he took but didn't use for John Barleycorn Must Die. According to the
article he was Traffic's court photographer. A check of album covers revealed that he is
credited on Traffic and The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys. Polak also
photographed many other 1960s and 1970s icons and did the shoot for the Rolling Stones'
Rock and Roll Circus.
Chris Wood brought the English traditional song "John Barleycorn" to the group, in the
version recorded by a group called the Watersons. Elaine Waterson also recorded the
Christmas song "Christmas Is Now Drawing Near At Hand", which Steve did in 1997.
United Artists LPs of John Barleycorn Must Die, with the burlap background on the
cover, reflect times of 6:30 / 6:02 for "Glad" / "Freedom Rider". Island LPs and CDs with
the new gray background show times of 6:32 / 6:20. The Smiling Phases collection
finally got it right at 6:58 / 5:27.
After John Barleycorn Must Die, a live album from the 1970 tour was slated for
release as Live / November 1970. Although LP covers and promotional posters were
printed, and still circulate, the album was never released. It was rumored that SW didn't
like the quality and ditched the tapes. The track listing was, on side one, "Who Knows
What Tomorrow May Bring" (7:20), "Glad" (11:45), and on side two, "Pearly Queen" (4:55),
"Forty Thousand Headmen" (4:35), "Dear Mr. Fantasy" (6:02), "Can't Find My Way Home"
(4:33). The album cover was published in an Island advertisement, and the title was even
listed in the Schwann catalog. The poster measures 24 by 36 inches, and its design
consists mostly of the Traffic symbol against a black background, with photos of Steve,
Jim, Chris and Rick Grech inset into the openings of the symbol, "Live Traffic" across the
top, and United Artists' "UA" logo in the bottom corner.
The original Island LP of Welcome To The Canteen did not credit or even mention
Traffic other than the group's symbol in the back photo. Instead, it was billed as the
individual players Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason, Chris Wood, Rick Grech, Reebop
Kwaku Baah, and Jim Gordon. The original Island CD (CID 9166) credited Traffic on the
spine but the individual names on the disc. Subsequent Island CD reissues credited only
Traffic. Some releases credited "Traffic, etc.".
An article in Trouser Press in 1977 attributed the phrase "The Low Spark of High-Heeled
Boys" to actor Michael J. Pollard. Pollard recently appeared as the crazy-looking guy in
the Visa commercial who can't forge one of their new high-tech cards. The article said
that he coined the phrase in a state of altered consciousness while working on a film in
Morocco, for which Traffic was supposed to record a soundtrack. Others attribute the
phrase to an old Western novel. In an interview published in the British music paper
Sounds 4/22/1972, Ray Telford asked Jim Capaldi how "Low Spark...." was chosen as an album
title. Jim responded that the title was from Michael J. Pollard while they were in
Morocco. One day Michael simply wrote "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" in a book of
Jim's. Michael was "really hung up on Dylan and The Band & Jesse James and all that
scene". Jim thought it was a great line and wrote the song. Not from a real Western, but
coined by a Western fan."
On the first two tracks of The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, "Hidden Treasure" and
"The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys", the bass is tuned high by at least a quarter-step.
The most noticeable place is the two notes at the end of the phrase, where the piano is at
its highest. The effect adds to the musical tension, and the group may have felt it was
too interesting to fix.
Jim Capaldi and Tony Wright, the artist for the cover of The Low Spark Of High-Heeled
Boys, described the making of the cover on a site to sell lithographs.
The title track on The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys has always been listed
incorrectly as 12:10, but the Smiling Phases collection correctly lists it as
11:35. The original LP track order was "Hidden Treasure" / "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled
Boys" / "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" / "Rock And Roll Stew" / "Many A Mile To Freedom" /
"Rainmaker". On the CD, "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" was moved from track 3 to track 5.
"Rainmaker" is the only Traffic track to feature Rick Grech's violin.
All of the tracks on Shootout At The Fantasy Factory were written and recorded in
about a week. The final instrumental part of the title track appears to be in 9/8 time (or
17/4 according to others), illustrating the accomplished musicianship of the group. As
with The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, the original LP cover and many reissues had
six sides since the lower left and upper right corners were cut off.
The original US release of the Shootout At The Fantasy Factory LP, with Island's
sunray labels, differed slightly from all subsequent releases on LP and CD, affecting most
of the tracks. The original UK LP, Island ILPS 9924, does not share these differences. For
example, "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" has a longer time and more guitar at the end,
the title track has more flute, and "Roll Right Stones" is longer. On all other US LP and
CD releases of this album, "Roll Right Stones" fades out two minutes early, although the
time is consistently listed as the full 13:44. The sunray label LP reflects track times of
6:01 / 13:40 / 5:00 / 4:07 / 10:01 rather than the actual 6:04 / 13:44 / 5:16 / 6:40 /
7:31. The cover has the catalog number at the bottom of the spine, while later LP covers
have it at the top and have smaller lettering on the spine. The track time on the reissue
US LP Island 7 90027-1, bought new in 1985, is roughly 11:30, while the corresponding US
CD Island 7 90027-2, bought new in 1989, reflects 11:47.
On The Road was originally released in two formats, one LP and two LPs, both with the same cover design and humorous road sign sleeves. For the 2-LP and current CD versions, the track listing is "Glad" / "Freedom Rider" / "Tragic Magic" / "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" / "Shootout At The Fantasy Factory" / "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" / "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys".
For the single LP, the track listing is "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" / "Shootout At The Fantasy Factory" / "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" / "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone". "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" was edited on the single LP from 17:35 to 15:10, with the missing 2:25 cut from the break between the first and second verses.
"The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" is faded out several seconds early on later releases of the album, but not on the edited single LP version or earlier pressings of the 2-LP version. The song is faded on the US 2-LP release Island ISLD 2, bought new in 1980, but not on the US CD release Island 7 90028-2, bought new in 1989. An early release of the 2-LP album with the non-faded version has Island's black labels from the late 1970s. The US version of ISLD 2 has light blue/gray labels with an orange sun behind the Island logo on LP 1, and darker blue/gray labels with a yellow sun behind the logo on LP 2. The UK version of ISLD.2, bought upon release in 1973, has a gray label featuring the Traffic logo next to a traffic light in a street scene with London taxi and double-decker bus, with the non-faded version of "Low Spark...". Each record of that UK release is also numbered, ISLD 3.1 with further identification Mat 3.1 A / Mat 3.1 B and ISLD 3.2 further identification Mat 3.2 A / Mat 3.2 B.
The CD reissue of When The Eagle Flies was slated for release on CD (as CID 9273)
by Island UK in August 1988, after all of the other Traffic CDs, but was never released
due to legal problems. The legal problem may have related to Winwood's defection to
Virgin. In addition, Chris Blackwell may have been unhappy with the sound quality.
Thousands of CDs were actually pressed, and some copies were exported to Japan and
possibly elsewhere. An Island Masters reissue (IMCD 142) was eventually released some
years later and is still available.
One story behind "Dream Gerrard" is that Vivian Stanshall was reading a poem by Gerard de
Nerval, a French Oriental poet, while at Winwood's home. Winwood picked it up and started
plonking on the piano.
A 1974 photo of Traffic from Island, autographed by Winwood, showed all five members of
the group in the same pose as the cover drawing on When The Eagle Flies. Reebop was
at the far left of the photo, but apparently dropped from the drawing. At a 1974 show in
Manchester, UK, Reebop's large drum and percussion sets were on stage, but he never showed
up. Traffic's last concert was at the Reading Festival in the UK, in August 1974.
Rosko Gee is seen in the cover drawing of When The Eagle Flies and in two photos in
the Smiling Phases collection, but his name has never appeared on a US Traffic
Far From Home, Traffic's reunion album after 20 years, was recorded at Woodstock,
Kicoole, Ireland, and the CD was released on 5/3/1994 as Virgin 39490. All songs were
written or co-written by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi.
Traffic performed "Here Comes a Man" on the David Letterman show in 1994.
The 1994 Traffic tour consisted of two distinct sets of dates, since on some dates they
opened for the Grateful Dead and on others they headlined. The time allotted Traffic
during the Dead shows was limited, resulting in a "greatest hits" mode for these shows. In
the headlining shows, Traffic placed a greater emphasis on the new album. A casual poll
revealed that by the end of the 1994 tour, perhaps in England in September, they had
played all of the songs from the new album, to varying degrees, except "Far From Home",
"State of Grace" and "This Train Won't Stop". The number of new songs played at any given
concert varied from only two to four. "Pearly Queen" seems to have opened every show,
followed by "Medicated Goo". Other old songs played consistently included "Rock And Roll
Stew", "Empty Pages", "Forty Thousand Headmen", "Glad / Freedom Rider", "The Low Spark Of
High-Heeled Boys", "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone", "Dear Mr. Fantasy", "John Barleycorn" and
"Gimme Some Lovin'", roughly in that order. Songs that dropped in and out of the set
included "Walking In The Wind", "Rainmaker" and "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired". "Holy
Ground" was added at only two shows in England at the end of the tour, Birmingham
9/26/1994 and Manchester, and a soundcheck. Davy Spillane played Uilleann pipes on the
song, reprising his performance on the album. Traffic's set list was similar to shows at
the peak of their popularity in the early 1970s, as the following sets show.
An alternative take of "Feelin' Alright", lighter and folkier than the version on
Traffic and with flute instead of sax, was issued on the Dave Mason compilation
Scrapbook (1973, 2 LPs).
The version of "Giving To You" which appeared on the b-side of the US single "Paper Sun" /
"Giving To You" is a completely different recording from the version on Mr.
Fantasy. A United Artists promotional copy of the single reflects catalog number UA
50195, "Paper Sun" is the "Plug Side", "Paper Sun" master ZTSP 123998, and "Giving To You"
master 123999 (length is given as 4:10). There is about half of a verse with lyrics at the
beginning of the song, then it goes into the instrumental part as on the LP. There is none
of the jive talk (eg, "But, I mean jazz...") that opens and closes the LP version. Some of
the flute, guitar and organ motifs are similar, but it's definitely a different take
altogether, rather than just a different mix. Others feel that the difference is in the
vocal only, and that the instrumental portion is the same as on the album. The lyrics
The b-side of the US single "Rock And Roll Stew Part 1" / "Rock And Roll Stew Part 2" is a continuation of the jam that fades out on the album version. The jam goes on for three or four minutes. The single was released on United Artists.
The Traffic symbol, with its four interlocking arrows, appears on all of the band's albums. Various explanations have been offered concerning the origin of the symbol.
- Trouser Press 1/1978, which featured Winwood and Traffic, included a story behind the logo: "According to Steve, it was the creation of a lady called Carol Ruskin and the band adopted it because they liked it and there was really nothing more to it than that. A simple explanation that could be true, however a few facts should be pointed out. Among other things it's a Celtic representation of the Wheel of Fortune, something which crops up in several songs including "No Time To Live" and "Dealer", and it's also connected with the Hindu swastika, the three legged Isle of Man design and is later to be found on Irish crosses. Also Myrrdin, later to metamorphose into Merlin the councilor and magician of medieval Arthurian fantasy, claims the symbol."
- The symbol was created by a friend of the group, based on the Celtic Wheel of Fortune. The symbol used on the Smiling Phases site was scanned from a 1973 hand-drawn version by Steve Darlington, who did lots of them. The symbol originally pointed counterclockwise on the early Traffic albums, but Island reversed it on The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys and some subsequent albums.
- The symbol is an ancient Druid symbol. Traffic had a fascination with Druids since the cottage was near Stonehenge. They also wrote about another ancient civilization, the Roll Rights, and various stone monuments in "Roll Right Stones."
- One interpretation of the symbol is an expression of movement in many directions converging together, like the movement of automotive traffic on a freeway, ergo the name of a band that wanted to keep things moving. Jim Capaldi is responsible for drawing the symbol.
Steve Winwood sang lead vocal on most Traffic songs, but other members of the group also
took their turns. Capaldi sang lead on "Dealer", "Rock And Roll Stew" and "Light Up Or
Leave Me Alone", plus co-lead with Winwood on "Heaven Is In Your Mind" and "John
Barleycorn". Mason sang lead on all songs he wrote for Traffic. "Vagabond Virgin" is
credited as having lead vocals by both Dave and Jim, but Dave actually carries the whole
melody. Many fans maintain that Steve sang the middle part of Dave's "Don't Be Sad",
although the lead vocal is credited only to Dave. "Crying To Be Heard" features a brief
duet between Steve & Dave. Chris Wood didn't sing lead vocals for Traffic, but contributed
many backup vocals on the first album and often played organ in the early concerts when
Winwood played guitar.
Jim Capaldi was a tax exile in Brazil for many years. At the Traffic shows, Jim introduced
Steve as his best friend for 30 years and one of the greatest musicians on the planet. At
a 5/1994 Traffic concert Salem, Oregon, he introduced Steve as "pound for pound, the best
Jim is married to Aninha, a Brazilian lady, since 1975. They have two daughters, Tabitha
and Tallulah. Jim wrote a song for Tabitha in 1979.
Jim may be involved in a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band tribute. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band site
reported in 1998 that: "Jim Yoakum is currently working out the logistics for a Bonzo
tribute/reunion album, set for a Christmas release: It Was A Great Party Until Somebody
Found A Hammer (the title comes from an unreleased Bonzo track). Yoakum has been
talking to some great people about the project, such as Pink Floyd's David Gilmour,
Wreckless Eric, The Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, Negativeland, Ken Nordine, John Cale. Gene
Pitney, Eric Idle, and others. I was lucky enough to hear a demo of the "Doin' The Bonzo
Dog" by George Harrison and Jim Capaldi, and it's one of the best post-Beatle songs to
Chris Wood's lilting flute, prominent among many early Traffic songs, was as distinctive
as Winwood's soaring vocals. Wood's contributions to Traffic included his well-known
woodwind parts, backing vocals, and organ in concert behind Winwood's guitar work. His
severe drug and alcohol abuse prevented him from realizing his full potential and
eventually robbed him of his life. Aside from Traffic, he played on Capaldi's Oh How We
Danced, Ginger Baker's Airforce, and jams with Jimi Hendrix. He also played
with Dr. John in concert, but never recorded with him.
Chris Wood's father passed away on April 10, 1997.
A Web site in late 1996 had an article about an upcoming Dave Mason live album, which was
to include his version of "Dear Mr. Fantasy". It said, in part: "This live album is
expected to be complete for release in the near future and word has it, there is even talk
of a Traffic reunion with Dave. As you may remember during the last Traffic reunion, Dave
was touring with Fleetwood Mac. This live concert event may feature celebrity guest
performances by Dave Mason and friends! Word has it, Dave will be inviting many special
artist / friends to take part in this concert / jam session."
Mason toured in the spring of 1996, and was scheduled to appear on 3/28/1996 at the
Caravan of Dreams Club (Fort Worth, TX), on 4/2/1996 at Grand Emporium (Kansas City, KA),
on 4/17/1996 at the Old Vienna Kaffeehaus (Westboro, MA), a small coffeehouse, and on
4/18/1996 at Tramps in (New York City, NY). A schedule of 1996 tour dates was available on
Mason's official Web site, which asserted that his song "Feelin' Alright" has been covered
Dave Mason toured with Fleetwood Mac in 1995 as a member of the band. They appeared at
Timberwolf Amphitheater at Kings Island (Cincinnati, OH), prior to 8/8/1995, where Mason
sang "We Just Disagree" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy". They also played dates in Italy.
In an interview published in Goldmine magazine, Mason said that he was summarily kicked
out of Traffic without an explanation and was not asked to join the reunion tour. He also
said that Winwood's session work on his Two Hearts (1987) album was totally remote,
such that Winwood just recorded the vocals and organ tracks, then mailed them to Mason's
A laserdisc released in Japan, Dave Mason - Best Live 1991 Tokyo (70 minutes),
included "Feelin' Alright", "Let It Go", "Let It Flow", "World In Changes", and 11 other
Stephen Stills interrupted CSNY's concert at the Big Sur folk festival (9/13/1969) to
allow Dave Mason to sing "World In Changes" and "Only You Know And I Know" with the
Before joining Blind Faith and later Traffic, Rick Grech was in the band Family. The
band's most acclaimed album was Music In A Doll's House, which was produced by Dave
Mason. Island released the Rick Grech compilation album The Last Five Years in
As Jim Gordon's career was escalating, he developed schizophrenia, which usually begins in a patient's teens or early twenties. In 1983, as a result of the illness, he killed his mom. At his trial in 1984 his lawyers correctly argued insanity. Due to changes in the law resulting from the case of John Hinckley, Jr., though, he was found guilty of murder. He is currently serving 16 years to life at San Luis Obispo, California.
The book Rock Bottom, by Pamela Des Barres, includes a chapter about Jim Gordon. Jim from an early age suffered from "voices" in his head, which would plague him for years to come. He married in 1964 and had a stable life. But drugs soon entered the picture. He divorced his wife, then teamed up with Rita Coolidge during Joe Cocker's "Mad Dogs" tour until he gave her a black eye. The voices at this point were usually silenced by the use of cocaine and heroin. After the spilt of Derek and the Dominoes and his stint with Traffic he moved back to the US, but the voices came back. He married again...and again this did not last long. He phoned his mother claiming he was "dying of hate" and checked himself into a hospital (on many occasions). In 1983 he killed his mother (one of the voices) and was sentenced to life in jail, despite 5 psychiatrists testifying that he was an acute paranoid schizophrenic. In an interview with the Washington Post he could not admit to the crime, believing that it just "happened". But the voices have gone. The author of the book received a letter from Jim in jail saying that he was still playing drums and "keeping my music up".
See the original postings: SP 119-04.
Upon formation in 1967, Traffic retreated to a small cottage in the countryside, near the village of Aston Tirrold in Berkshire Downs. Over time, this brief period in the band's history has taken on an almost Camelot-like quality. Winwood has indicated, though, that the ultimate value of the rural setting to the band was more practical than metaphysical. To find Aston Tirrold, follow A329 northwest out of Reading, change to A417 at Streatley, and the village is visible about halfway before the junction with 34. Separately, the Rollright Stones are near the village of Great Rollright.
As Geoffrey Stokes says in Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll: "[Life in the cottage] may have been somewhat less idyllic than romanticists have pictured it. Writer David Dalton, visiting the cottage in 1969, reported the following conversation with Winwood: As we come down the dirt road up to the cottage, we see a beekeeper disappear into some bushes. Stevie says, 'I heard him talking to his bees the other day'. 'That must have been interesting'. 'Not really. It was more like, "Git in thar, yer bastards"'.
Brain Matthews, the famous host of the British TV show "Top Gear", interviewed Winwood
during Traffic BBC studio performances and shortly after the release of the group's second
single in the fall of 1967:
Winwood's recollection of the experience was remarkably consistent in an interview he did ten years later with Penny Valentine for the 11/1977 issue of Creem: "Funny that - it only happened because we couldn't find anywhere in London to rehearse without the neighbors complaining - not a "let's go organic" thing at all. It was because, for the grand total of 50 pounds a year, we could have the cottage." Although it seems logical that the "organic" environment would have been influential in the development of Traffic's sound, perhaps this was more journalistic invention, a good story, than anything else. One writer described arriving at the cottage one summer night, imbuing a magical quality to it with the sudden appearance of colored lights, moving shadows, and swirling, ethereal music. Perhaps mentioning the muck and mire would have dulled the story.
A subscriber saw Traffic several times, including twice in October 1967 at the City Hall
in Newcastle (UK). These dates were part of package tours, the first co-headlining with
the Small Faces, and the second time with The Who and The Tremolos supported by the Herd
and Marmalade. Traffic featured Mason on sitar, and the sets were different for these
dates. The next concert was at York University (UK) in January 1971, after the release of
John Barleycorn Must Die and Rick Grech had just joined the band. Following that
was the tour with the Muscle Shoals session players in Manchester (UK), March 1973, one of
only three UK.venues on that tour. Chris was impaired by drug use during that show, barely
played at all and spent much of the show arguing with someone in the audience. The
highlight of the concert was Steve playing all the lead on "Tragic Magic". A year later
they were back at the City Hall in Newcastle, this time as a five piece band with Steve,
Jim, Chris, Reebop and Rosko, a much tighter unit than the previous one. The highlight of
the concert was "When The Eagle Flies" with Steve on piano, accompanied by Rosko. They
appeared at the Reading Festival in August 1974, without Reebop who had left the band a
few days earlier. The highlight was a superb version of "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled
Boys" with electric piano, flute, bass and drums.
The 1971 Glastonbury Fair was filmed for a movie which was originally intended for British
cinema, a sort of British version of Woodstock, but was apparently only shown on
television. Someone from another mailing list indicated that the film ends with a "great
stoned performance by Traffic".
A subscriber had the pleasure to experience the last concert of the Traffic farewell tour
in Ludwigshafen, Germany, about 1973. It was a mammoth show. Steve announced at the
beginning that, since it was their last concert together, Traffic would perform until they
dropped. They did, with the first casualties occurring after about 3 hours, after playing
just about the entire Traffic catalogue and several covers of other performers of the
time. Steve played just about every instrument available during the night, breaking into
several breathtaking solos on guitar and Hammond organ. He was also the last to succumb to
fatigue, fare-welling his fans after more than four hours of non-stop music.
Traffic's last concert was at the Reading Festival in August 1974. A subscriber attended
the Manchester (UK) gig in March 1973, possibly at the Hardrock. Spooky Tooth were due to
support but never appeared. At the 1974 Traffic concert at the Free Trade Hall Manchester
(UK), Winwood actually had to play guitar, and sat down at the electric piano on some
songs, such as "Something New".
Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason toured together during 1998 to guage interest in a possible
album from them. The first date was to be 2/4/1998. The first portion of the tour included
a bass player and keyboard player, and an additional acoustic guitarist for opener Al
Stewart. Other dates posted:
For the second phase of the tour, Jim and Dave went acoustic without the bass and keyboard
players. The additional acoustic guitarist for Al Stewart was also gone for most dates.
Jim and Dave announced during this leg that there would be an album forthcoming sometime
"next year". Appearances posted:
At a Boston show in 1999, Peter Cetera's former drummer filled in for a sick Jim Capaldi.
They performed all old songs, including covers of "Stormy Monday" and "Dust My Blues". The
planned album was reported to be complete and due to be released in May or June, with
appearances by George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Billy Joel. A summer tour was planned with
George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
According to the book Encyclopedia Of Rock Stars (1996), by Rees and Crampton,
Traffic was featured in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film. The book also said
that the film aired on 12/26/1967. It turns out that Traffic was not in the final film,
although Spencer Davis was. Rolling Stone magazine referred to this appearance in the
12/14/1967 issue, indicating that Traffic would be in the film performing "Here We Go
Round The Mulberry Bush", and in the 2/24/1968 issue, well after the airing. New Musical
Express reported in its 12/9/1967 issue that the Traffic bit was filmed but later edited
out, and that in the bit the band was chasing a giant world globe down a hill.
Revised through Smiling Phases volume 150.|
The Smiling Phases Compendiums are compiled and edited by Stephen Smith, mostly from original postings by the many contributors to the Smiling Phases mailing list. See the linked SP references for the original postings in the Mailing List Archives.
Page created March 22, 1999.