‘On The Road’: A Transport Of Delight For Traffic Fans
Recorded in Germany, the album included tracks from the band’s then-current studio release ‘Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory.’
The 1973 line-up of Traffic was captured on disc with the appropriately-named On The Road, the group’s live album which entered the UK chart on November 24 that year. In America, the initial release was a single-LP set of four extended performances, but at home, it merited a double-disc edition, with six tracks including three from the then-current studio set Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory.
Founder members Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood were joined on the 1973 tour by their Ghanaian percussionist of recent times, Rebop Kwaku Baah, plus collaborators and Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section titans David Hood (bass), Roger Hawkins (drums), and Barry Beckett on organ and piano. They began the year with an extensive North American tour, then a European leg included visits to such cities as Bologna, Vienna, and Frankfurt.
The whole of side one of the UK double album was taken up with an epic, 20-minute performance combining “Glad” and “Freedom Rider.” In addition to the title track from Shoot Out…, the set included its fellow LP tracks “Tragic Magic,” composed by Wood, and the Winwood/Capaldi co-write “(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired.” On The Road concluded with “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone” and the title track from the same 1971 album Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys, which itself ran to 17 minutes.
The live album entered the UK chart at No.47, which at least put the group back among the bestsellers after the (remarkable, in hindsight) failure of either Low Spark…or Shoot Out… to make the listings at all. That week, David Bowie’s covers album Pin Ups was in the fourth of its five weeks at No.1. On The Road climbed to its No.40 peak a week later, as it moved to a No.29 peak in America, and a robust 24-week chart stay.
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November 24 was also a chart date for Traffic in 1968, when the single “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” was new in UK record shops. It was the theme for the British comedy movie of the same name, and provided Traffic with their third consecutive Top 10 UK hit. It also has a lesser-known link with The Beatles: a performance of it was commissioned for possible inclusion in the Magical Mystery Tour film. It didn’t make the edit, but was included among the extras in the 2012 DVD reissue.
Buy or stream On The Road.
December 4, 2020 at 9:19 pm
Sides 1 and 4 if the original double album filled many a happy hour for me. Brilliant improvisation but reeboo never knew when to stop!