Posts Tagged ‘Chris Wood’

Steve Winwood formed Traffic with Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason, and Chris Wood in 1967. In the spirit of the times, the group was intended to be a cooperative, with the members living together in a country cottage in Berkshire and collaborating on their songs. Signed to Island Records their single “Paper Sun,” peaked in the U.K. Top Five in July 1967 and also spent several weeks in the lower reaches of the charts in America. Traffic recorded two sessions for Saturday Club and Top Gear shows in 1967. Session 1 first aired October 1967 while Session 2 first aired December 1967 recorded for the BBC Top Gear programme. Both are released here for the first time. Traffic also toured Europe and the live recording that comprises part two of this album was also made for radio broadcast, this time in Sweden at Radiohuset, Stockholm on September. 12th, 1967

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John Peel’s legendary status is defined by the vast amount of bands and artists he championed. His urge to “hear something he hadn’t heard before” led to a relentless search through demo tapes sent in to his radio show from songwriters and musicians looking for a break. His conviction in not following conventional programming formats, and offering his listeners an alternative to daytime pop pap would ensure that his relevance to broadcasting would remain vital right up to his untimely death in 2004. Chris Wood’s Flute playing is amazing on this. Their BBC Sessions deserve to be officially released! As does the Copenhagen ’67 Concert.

His sessions would become an important outlet for new listeners to sample live selections from fledgling and established artists. Many of these recordings have been released to the public, some remain in the vaults. Here is a continuing history of all the sessions, starting in 1967 for his “Top Gear” show right up to the final recording in October 2004.

December 11th 1967: Traffic John Peel Session Studio – 201 Piccadilly, Studio 1

Tracklist:

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush
Heaven Is On Your Mind
No Face No Name No Number
Dealer
Hope I Never Find Me There

The Band:

Jim Capaldi – drums, acoustic guitar, lead vocals, Dave Mason – electric guitar, bass, vocals Steve Winwood – electric guitar, keyboards, vocals Chris Wood – flute. percussion ,

After exploring English folk on the 1970’s album John Barleycorn , Traffic continued broadening their sound to incorporate other musical ideas on the follow-up. Released in November 1971, “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” saw them move more towards progressive rock, featuring extended tracks and off-kilter rhythms inspired by other genres. Recorded in the September of 1971 at Island Studios. All of those different sounds would go into “Rock & Roll Stew,” aided by some recent hired hands to bolster the triumvirate of Stevie Winwood (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Jim Capaldi (drums, vocals) and Chris Wood (woodwinds, keyboards). These additions included ex Blind Faith bassist Ric Grech, Ghanaian percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah and the Derek and the Dominoes drummer Jim Gordon (who was brought in to allow Capaldi to focus on his songwriting and taking lead vocal, which he did on two of album’s six tracks).

Of all styles, jazz rock seemed to come to the forefront on The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, especially on the nearly 12-minute title track. The song was conjured out of studio experimentation, with Capaldi even writing the lyrics to the third verse just before Winwood sang them.

“What would happen is that Jim would jot some words down on a piece of paper – some lines, maybe, and not too many, and certainly not arranged in a verse – chorus kind of way,” Winwood said. “He would just jot a few phrases or ideas down, and then we would go and jam. I would stand the piece of paper on top of the piano or organ, then during the jam when I felt it was right and appropriate, I’d sing what he’d written down and it always came out of a jam. It was born out of the fact that we were players rather than writers.”

As for the bizarre, but memorable title, Capaldi got the phrase from actor Michael J. Pollard (Bonnie and Clyde) with whom he was working on a film project. Pollard wrote “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” in Capaldi’s book and it fired his imagination.

The meandering song, although never released as a single, became a staple of ’70s FM radio, famous for its length, hazy mood and electronic saxophone solo played by Wood. Winwood recalled how Wood came to create the nasal, Eastern-tinged sound on “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.”

“He used a lot of gadgetry on his saxophone,” Winwood said. “He bought a thing called a Maestro, which is a machine for electrifying a saxophone, a reed instrument.”

The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys , The LP remains the band’s lone platinum release in the U.S., known for its mind-altering sounds, in addition to its famous die-cut album cover, which created an optical illusion.

The group would continue on for a few more years, releasing two more albums before breaking up in 1974. Wood died in 1983, but Capaldi and Winwood reunited for a new Traffic record and tour in the ’90s, but Low Spark is considered by many fans and critics to be Traffic’s high point.

Caught In ’70s Traffic One More Time

As the piano kicked in on ‘Something New’ at the same time as one of the most distinctive voices in rock, Traffic were back in the American album chart on this day 41 years ago with When The Eagle Flies. With Stevie Winwood  vocals and keyboards augmented by the work of Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and now Rosko Gee (plus the uncredited Rebop Kwaku Baah), they would once again strike gold in the States — but this would be their last chart showing with a new studio record for very nearly 20 years. This ninth album by the British rock pacemakers gathered half a dozen new compositions by Winwood and Capaldi, and another, the equally impressive ‘Dream Gerrard,’ that Steve wrote with inimitable performer-humorist Vivian Stanshall, late of the Bonzo Dog Band. It arrived just over a year and a half after the band’s 1973 entry Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory, after which they had released the On The Road memento of their concert in Germany that year.

 

traffic-on-the-roadTraffic-When-The-Eagle

 

Whereas Traffic’s recent studio endeavours had been produced by Winwood, When The Eagle Flies was overseen, like the live disc, by their Island label boss and confidant, Chris Blackwell. There was a subtle update to their sound, too, with the use of Moog and Mellotron keyboards, and an ever greater advance into a sophisticated jazz-rock style. But, with their status as FM album rock radio staples intact, there was no sign of any reduction in their American popularity.

While their British audience showed less enthusiasm for the new album, granting it only a fleeting top 40 place, Eagle entered the 28 September, 1974 US chart at No. 52 and became the group’s fourth top ten LP in a row there. Billboard called the album “a superb return.”

It reached No. 9 in a 27-week run, going gold by November, but after a promotional tour in the US in the autumn, Traffic called it a day. They were commemorated by two compilations in 1975 but the name was not revived by Winwood and Capaldi until 1994’s Far From Home.

On this date in 1967, Traffic released their debut album ‘Mr. Fantasy’. 

The second half of 1967 is memorable for many landmarks in the annals of pop history, but one that’s sometimes a little underplayed is the remarkable arrival of a new British rock force called Traffic.

In the space of less than six months, the band racked up no fewer than three top ten hits in the UK with ‘Paper Sun,’ ‘Hole In My Shoe’ and ‘Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush.’ Then, exactly 48 years ago on the countdown on 30th December, 1967, they rounded off the year in style by charting with their first album, Mr. Fantasy.

Beneath the surface of what appeared to be a new driving force in creative British pop, all was less than harmonious, because by the time the album appeared, Dave Mason was about to split with his colleagues Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood. He returned to the fold in time for their self-titled follow-up of 1968.

Paper Sun

“Dave Quits, But Traffic Keeps Moving’ was the Melody Maker’s headline in its 16 December issue. “It’s because there are things I want to do and for me to do them while still in the group would hang the others up,” he told the paper’s Chris Welch. “The best thing to do is leave. I decided ages ago.” Almost immediately, he started producing the debut album by Family, Music In A Doll’s House, which came out the following July.

Nevertheless, Mason still had three solo compositions on Mr. Fantasy, in the form of ‘House For Everyone,’ ‘Utterly Simple’ and ‘Hope I Never Find Me There.’ He also had a co-write on the closing ‘Giving To You,’ with all six remaining tracks credited to the Winwood/Capaldi/Wood triumvirate. As a notable example of the way that the singles and album markets were now splitting in two, the album didn’t contain any of Traffic’s hit singles.

Mr. Fantasy opened on the chart at No. 38, as The Beatles‘ Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band continued at No. 1, in what turned out to be the penultimate week at the summit for that particular classic. The Traffic album then faltered at No. 40 before rallying in the new year to spend two weeks at No. 17, and then hitting a No. 16 peak in early February. In the US, a different version of the album, with alternative sequencing and the notable addition of ‘Smiling Phases,’ hit No. 88. Bigger achievements were in store for Traffic on both sides of the Atlantic.

Traffic Make Their Album Debut

Traffic-John_Barleycorn_Must_Die_(album_cover)

 

The fourth album from the English rock Band TRAFFIC, regarded as their definative recording, released in 1970 on Island records featured the single “Empty Stages” recorded at Island studios and Olympic studios in London from February to  April 1970 and produced by Chris Blackwell and Guy Stevens, Stevie Winwood who was still only 22 but had already served his apprenticeship in the Spencer Davis Group an then with the supergroup Blind Faith, had entered the studios to record what was to be a solo album titled Mad Shadows he wanted like minded musicians to join him and invited Chris Woods saxes and other wind instruments and Jim Capaldi drumming, therefore becoming a reunited Traffic and particulary a relaunch of the band’s career. With Jazz and Blues a forefront to the bands sound it also included a contempoary version of the English seventeenth century folk song ” John Barleycorn” with similarities to what was happening with bands like Pentangle and Fairport Convention. Reissued in 1999 with five bonus tracks, then in 2011 a deluxe version had the whole of the Live Fillmore East concert plus some demos,