Posts Tagged ‘Jim Capaldi’

Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die front

1969 was a tremulous year for the band Traffic. After a successful tour in the US following their second album, Steve Winwood left the band for the short-lived super group Blind Faith. In the meantime Island Records released the album “Last Exit”, a mishmash of leftover studio cuts and live performances Traffic recorded in 1968. Blind Faith recorded one excellent album but broke up shortly after, leaving Winwood then free to start working on a solo record suggested by Island Record’s manager Chris Blackwell.

The plan was for Winwood to play all the instruments using tape overdubbing techniques in the studio. Winwood is a fine multi instrumentalist who could certainly perform such a feat, but he found the process difficult: “I began trying to make music all on my own with tape machines and overdubbing and stuff. It was a very good way of writing, but it was a weird way of making music. The whole thing that makes music special is people. I was getting to the point that I needed the input of other people. It seemed inhuman to make records just by overdubbing.”

Steve Winwood started calling on his friends from Traffic to help him in the studio. First to join was Jim Capaldi who helped writing some of the songs and contributed drums and percussion tracks. Next was reed man Chris Wood who brought his jazz and folk influences, and the three worked for a few months on the album. It became clear that the solo album, with the planned title name of “Mad Shadows”, was really a Traffic record.

Chris Wood was influenced by the folk revival that swept the British Isles in the late 60s. One song he suggested to the group was John Barleycorn, which he heard on the 1965 Watersons record Frost and Fire. The Watersons’ version, like most of their material from that period, was an unaccompanied vocal group performance.

Winwood applied himself to the song and played a wonderful guitar part on it. Capaldi added tasteful and sparse percussion parts and more importantly a brilliant vocal harmony starting on the fifth verse. Wood’s flute accompaniment is the icing on the cake on this great take on the song, which has been performed by many British folk artists over the years including Martin Carthy and John Renbourn. The Mainly Norfolk site has a good page chronicling many of the song’s covers. It is interesting that amidst the great activity that took place at the time in the British folk rock scene by bands like Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Fotheringay and many others, one of the most memorable songs remains this performance of John Barleycorn by Traffic, wnot considered a folk rock band.

The album was engineered by Andy Johns, younger brother of Glynn Johns. Between them the two brothers recorded classic rock’s royalty. Before working with Traffic, Andy Johns recorded Jethro Tull (Stand Up, Living in the Past), Spooky Tooth and Blind Faith. After Traffic his career soared with Led Zeppelin (II, III, the legendary IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti) and the Rolling Stones (Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street). Quite a resume, and this is just within a span of 4 years.

Johns had a deep respect for Steve Winwood. In an interview he mentioned an experience he had when working on the Blind Faith album: “I came back from a lunch break one day and the soundproof door was cracked a little bit, and I could hear him playing the Hammond. He’s playing both manuals and the bass pedals and he’s singing. I look at him and he’s looking at the ceiling. Not only is he playing the top manual, the lower manual, the bass pedals, and singing, but he’s also thinking about what his old lady’s going to make him for dinner. So he’s doing four or five things at once and the music was just stunning. I hate to use the word genius, because it’s bandied about so much, but that guy, in the end of his little finger, has more than a whole tribe of musicality— he really does. It’s just unfair.”

When you first listen to the song you may think that you landed in the midst of a Middle Ages inquisition session. The lyrics describe all kinds of brutal methods inflicted by three men upon a poor fellow named John Barleycorn. However a closer look reveals that the distressing lyrics are actually a metaphor to the process applied to barley in order to produce beer and whiskey. While it has its roots in old folklore tales about the Corn God and religious symbolism, it is really a satire on legally prohibiting the production of alcoholic beverages while still needing the drink to get on with everyday life, as revealed in the last verse:

The huntsman, he can’t hunt the fox,
Nor so loudly to blow his horn,
And the tinker he can’t mend kettle nor pot,
Without a little Barleycorn

In short, John Barleycorn is a drinking song. Maybe the best of them all.

Steve Winwood performs a solo acoustic version of Traffic’s John Barleycorn (Must Die).

Image of Traffic 'First Exit' blue vinyl LP

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 toured Europe in the summer of ’67 and the live recording that comprises this album was made for radio broadcast in Sweden at Radiohuset, Stockholm on September. 12th, 1967. It has been newly mastered for vinyl and pressed on blue vinyl.

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• Restored and newly mastered audio
• Historic live radio broadcast available for the first time on LP
• Includes the hits ‘Paper Sun’ and ‘Hole In My Show’
• Complete live show from 1967
• Limited edition blue vinyl

Image of Traffic 'First Exit' blue vinyl LP

TRACK LISTING
1. Giving To You [live] / 2. Smiling Phases [live] / 3. Coloured Rain [live] / 4. Hole In My Shoe [live] / 5. Feelin’ Good [live] / 6. Paper Sun [live] / 7. Dear Mr Fantasy [live]

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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traffic

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 ,

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

Remembering Jim Capaldi who died from stomach cancer,  born 2nd August 1944 – 28th January 2005

Nicola James “Jim” Capaldi  was an English musician and songwriter. His musical career lasted more than four decades. He co-founded Traffic in Birmingham with Steve Winwood, and the band’s psychedelic rock was influential in Britain and the United States. Capaldi and Winwood wrote many of Traffic’s major hits and most of the tracks on the band’s ten albums. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a part of Traffic’s original line-up. Jim Capaldi also performed with several famous musicians, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Alvin Lee, and Mylon LeFevre. He has also written lyrics to songs for other artists,

As a solo artist he scored more than a half dozen chart hits in various countries, the most well-known being “That’s Love“, “Shoe Shine“, and his cover of “Love Hurts“.

Following his death, several tributes in celebration of Capaldi’s life and music came out under the name Dear Mr Fantasy. The first was a tribute concert that took place at the Roundhouse in Camden Town, London on Sunday, 21 January 2007. The performances were evenly split between Capaldi’s solo songs and his work with Traffic. All profits went to The Jubilee Action Street Children Appeal. A recording of the concert was released as a double CD set the same year.

Jim Capaldi’s success as a lyricist continued throughout his life. In 1990 One and Only Man“, a Steve Winwood song for which Capaldi wrote the lyrics, reached the Top 20 in the USA. He was a five times winner of BMI/Ascap Awards for the “most played compositions in America”, and sales of songs written or co-written by him exceeded 25 million units. He numbered Bob Marley among his friends, and they travelled together while Marley was writing the Catch A Fire album. Capaldi wrote the lyrics to “This Is Reggae Music”.

In the 1980s, Capaldi collaborated with Carlos Santana contributing songs and ideas to Santana’s projects and in the 1990s he co-wrote (with Paul Carrack) the song “Love Will Keep Us Alive“, 

In 1993, Traffic reformed and toured the US and UK. Capaldi and Winwood recorded a new album, Far from Home, without the other members of the band. In 1998 he paired up again with Dave Mason on an extensive American tour.

The second such tribute, Dear Mr. Fantasy: The Jim Capaldi Story, is a four-disc boxed set released in July 2011. Though a slight majority of the tracks came from Capaldi’s solo albums, it also included some of his work with the Hellions, Deep Feeling, and Traffic, a few rare non-album tracks, and more than ten previously unreleased recordings,

The third and final tribute is a book of Capaldi’s handwritten lyrics, released in November 2011. The ideas of a boxed set and lyrics book had been conceived by Jim Capaldi shortly before he died, and their releases were prepared by his widow Aninha in fulfilment of a last promise to him.

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,