Sunday, August 2, 2015

john barleycorn must die

Traffic gladly gathered up the bits and came back together centered 'round the same old fire, their fortunes for to try.   The group had disbanded after two albums ( 'Mr. Fantasy' and 'Traffic' ) when Steve Winwood left to record  'Blind Faith' with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Rick Grech.  That group only lasted a year, after which Winwood and Chris Wood both played with Ginger Baker's Air Force.  In the meantime, Wood and Jim Capaldi had played with Mason, Capaldi, Wood and Frog (Wooden Frog) for a brief period.   Winwood began working on a solo album 'Mad Shadows' with producer Guy Stevens; but, after recording a couple of tracks, decided to invite his former bandmates to join him, effectively reuniting Traffic.   

'John Barleycorn Must Die' was recorded in London at Island Studios and Olympic Studios with Winwood, Stevens, and Chris Blackwell producing.  The sessions featured  Steve Winwood on vocals, Hammond organ, piano, electric piano, bass,  acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and percussion;     Chris Wood on saxophone, flute, Hammond organ, and percussion;    and  Jim Capaldi on vocals, drums, and percussion.     

Winwood looks back:  "There are no oaths of allegiance. If you feel your life will be better served by splitting up the group, you've got to do it - but of course it does cause problems. It caused problems when I left the Spencer Davis Group and joined Traffic. It caused problems with Traffic when I joined Blind Faith. But at the end of the day, I believe it was all in the cause of better music ...  I think I did prefer the freedom of the trios sound. It was very fluid and loose- its a very wonderful thing to work within a trio... It was Chris Wood who came up with the idea of doing John Barleycorn. He found the song, which is an Oxfordshire version from the 16th century. Chris came up with the idea; he was always introducing us to very different styles of music  ...  Most of the Traffic stuff stands the test of time pretty well. All of those albums are like my children, so I really can’t pick a favourite, but in many ways, John Barleycorn is the core of what Traffic is, and it could be the most definitive album we did."

'John Barleycorn Must Die'
full album:

Side one
"Glad" (Winwood) 6:59
"Freedom Rider" (Winwood/Capaldi) 6:20
"Empty Pages" (Winwood/Capaldi) 4:47
Side two
"Stranger to Himself" (Winwood/Capaldi) 4:02
"John Barleycorn" (traditional-arr. Winwood) 6:20
"Every Mother's Son" (Winwood/Capaldi)  7:05

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