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The Best of Traffic

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Album Review

Though Traffic broke up at the start of 1969, the band was on a commercial ascent, which led Island Records, their U.K. label, and United Artists, which licensed their product for the U.S., to assemble a posthumous album, Last Exit, released in April 1969, that, like its predecessor, Traffic, peaked in the American top 20. Meanwhile, former band member Steve Winwood formed Blind Faith, which produced a debut album that topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. No wonder Island and UA determined that the fall of 1969 was a good time for a Traffic compilation. The release was especially needed in Britain, where the singles sides "Paper Sun," "Hole in My Shoe," and "Smiling Phases" had not yet appeared on an LP. Since Traffic had moved away from being a singles band after its first year, the album was not dubbed a hits collection, though all its tracks had been released on one side or the other of a single on one side or the other of the Atlantic. As a selection of the best and most popular material from the group's first three albums, the result is hard to fault, though it's worth noting that the missing "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush," the theme song from the 1967 movie of the same name, was a Top Ten hit in England. Also missing, on the British version of the LP, anyway, was "You Can All Join In," a song that had enjoyed popularity in continental Europe. (The American version did include "You Can All Join In," which replaced "Smiling Phases.") The group's U.K. hit singles, "Paper Sun" and "Hole in My Shoe," were already beginning to sound like quaint bits of psychedelia by 1969, but the entire second side of the LP, comprising "Medicated Goo," "Forty Thousand Headmen," "Feelin' Alright," "Shanghai Noodle Factory," and "Dear Mr. Fantasy," was the kind of progressive rock that would define Traffic and give it its place in the rock pantheon. Who could have known when this disc was first released that the band's story was far from over?

Customer Reviews

you'll be happy to be stuck in traffic

One of the original innovators, hugely underrated and ignored, traffic were and still are cool. Trippy, dream music that takes you where you want to go and makes sure you'll never come back. Once you have listened to Winwood's plaintive, haunting vocals you'll be there. They rock, they roll but they stir the emotions too.

Awsome

Bought this the first week it came out, and 30 odd years later still playing it, if you like cool get away from everyday life and feelings, then its a must....Dear Mister Fantasy got the hairs on my back standing 30 odd years ago, and right now got it on and still does it too me, just fantastic music that you never hear from the young bands of today, well done Stevie.....3rays

Biography

Formed: 1967 in Midlands, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Though it ultimately must be considered an interim vehicle for singer/songwriter/keyboardist/guitarist Steve Winwood, Traffic was a successful group that followed its own individual course through the rock music scene of the late '60s and early '70s. Beginning in the psychedelic year of 1967 and influenced by the Beatles, the band turned out eclectic pop singles in its native Great Britain, though by the end of its first year of existence it had developed a pop/rock hybrid tied to its unusual instrumentation:...
Full bio