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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Traffic - Heaven Is In Your Mind

Alongside Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, and the Sgt. Pepper-era of the Beatles who were considered the proto-progressive rock of the psychedelic scene in the late '60s, a group from Birmingham, England took Proto-Prog into the world of make-believe. Traffic had a traditional sound of Jazz, Soul, Ragtime, and stories in candy houses with the walls made out of cheese. Formed in 1967 after Steve Winwood's departure of the british invasion's sound of the Spencer Davis Group who had hits like Keep on Running, Gimme Some Lovin', When I Come Home, and I'm a Man. Steve Winwood formed Traffic with Dave Mason on guitar, Jim Capaldi on Drums, and Chris Wood on flute and sax. The group was later signed on the Island Record label from Chris Blackwell to make their debut album Mr. Fantasy (Heaven Is In Your Mind).

This is Traffic's earlier look on the psychedelic scene to come up with Beatle related songs and Folk meets Soul meets Jazz in a funky way in this US version of Mr. Fantasy. The opening of the psychedelic single of the sitar-harpischord indian related sound of Paper Sun, blows the door away with its 4/4 time signature, Dealer is a folk-rock tune about the drugs that the dealers gives to his victims and watches them suffer in a deathly quiet hush, Coloured Rain a mid-pop like song that makes you feel good in the morning and in the afternoon with a bit of LSD related rain coming down from the sky, Hole in my Shoe could almost be a prog epic from the mind of Dave Mason writing a children's fairy tale with mellotrons and the drums doing 4 beats per measure from walking to the music, No Face, No Name, Number is a beautiful haunting acoustic melody from Steve Winwood as he sings very emotional while the organ and the mellotron plus the acoustic guitar, follows him along into a beauty of love.

Heaven Is In Your Mind is a Jazz-R&B soul rock track that Winwood and Capaldi sing the vocals about packing your bags and headed up the escaltor to guide your visions in Heaven to believe in yourself; Berkshire Poppies and Giving to You are really strange tracks. Dave Mason is bringing his pop-related fairy tales in a twist of Alice in Wonderland meets Hansel and Gretel with music performed by the Beatles. Dave goes into a storybook mode in gumdrop lands while the next track is more a jam session of the 12-bar faster blues composition with weird scatting voices and dating, Smiling Phases a tradition of Otis Redding in a Bee Gees way, and Dear Mr. Fantasy, a heavy blues rock number that crosses between Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience guitar work that brings the house down.

Traffic had a little success until they hit it big in the United States at the Fillmore East and West after Dave Mason left to pursue a solo career in 1968. They hit the big time when they released their golden seed in 1970, John Barleycorn Must Die in the roots of Jazz, R&B, and Folk songs that Bob Dylan could have wrote in England. Even though the band spilt up in 1969 and came back in 1970 and then broke up in 1974 and lost two members Chris Wood in 1983 and Jim Capaldi in 2005, The legacy of Traffic's music keeps Feelin' Alright.

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