Traffic – In A Field Of Their Own (Godfather Records GR776)

In A Field Of Their Own (Godfather Records GR776)

Paris Theatre, London, England – April 30th, 1970 

(79:29):  Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring, Every Mother’s Son, No Time To Live, Medicated Goo, John Barleycorn, Pearly Queen, Stranger To Himself, Empty Pages,  Glad, Freedom Rider.  Bonus tracks, the Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys sessions (1971):   Rainmaker (different mix, May 19th, 1971), It’s So Hard (Capaldi  Gordon), Easter Weekend

After Blind Faith ran out of steam, Steve Winwood reassembled Traffic.  But with Dave Mason already working on his solo career, the band reconvened as a three-piece with Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood.  Right after recording the fourth Traffic studio LP John Barleycorn Must Die, the band debuted the new songs on the BBC “In Concert” program hosted by John Peel.  

Recorded live before an audience at the Paris Theatre in London on April 30th, several sources have been in circulation.  A Westwood One “Superstars Of Rock” transcription disc has excellent sound but is missing “Stranger To Himself” and the John Peel commentary between numbers.  

Another source is a BBC transcription LP containing the complete broadcast including the song and Peel’s commentary.  The sound is a bit more dull than the Westwood One disc, however.  The only silver disc devoted to this gig is Pop Spectacular:  BBC 1970 issued several years ago from an incomplete BBC transcription disc, missing “Stranger To Himself.”  

In A Field Of Their Own on Godfather is a marked improvement over the no label.  It sounds much nicer and louder, but is has the complete gig.

The trio of Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood switch instruments throughout the broadcast and even features Wood playing sax as the bass line in “Medicated Goo.”  They play the yet to be released new album except for “Stranger To Himself” and the only older songs played are “No Time To Live,” “Pearly Queen” and “Medicated Goo.”  DJ John Peel offers commentary between each song leading the listener through the various instrument changes and commenting on the songs they are playing.  

The show beings with Peel saying, “Of all the stories of groups breaking up constantly in the music papers it’s really nice to have one of the all time great ones get together again.  And it’s even nicer to have them on this program.  Traffic.” 

“Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring” sounds tremendous in the recording with intricate organ lines weaving around the rhythm section.  “I hope you agree with me that Traffic are playing better than ever.  Very relaxed and really nice.  This is from their second LP together released in 1968” Peel says before “No Time To Live.”   

Before “Medicated Goo” Peel explains, “On this next number there is a certain amount of change of instrumentation.  To begin with Chris will be playing the bass part on tenor saxophone as a result of electronic trickery too complex for me to explain it to you.  Not that I understand it myself.  Steve will be playing guitar and Steve and Jim will be singing it.”  

With its uptempo beat and happy melody, it is a good change of pace from the rest of the material which is both very contemplative and serious.  On “John Barleycorn” they sing the lyrics from the fifteenth century rendition of the song but they mess up the lyrics at the end with Capaldi singing the correct version while Winwood sings the last verse causing them to fall apart.     

Peel introduces “Pearly Queen” as one of his favorite Traffic numbers and afterwards compliments Winwood’s guitar playing by saying, “so if you’re a guitarist and you think you gotta go on playing those same old blues riffs at ear shattering volume in order to make it, you don’t and that’s proof of it.” 

Before the ending Peel remarks how great it is to see a band actually smiling as they play.  Traffic close with the “Glad” and “Freedom Rider” medley.  The spectacular contrast in styles in the tracks comes through clearly and Wood’s flute solo sounds tremendous against the organ.  

Godfather also include several rare demo tracks from the sessions for Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys.  They are in excellent sound quality and reveal the band to be very happy, laughing as they work on the new songs for what would be their most famous LP.  

In A Field Of Their Own is another quality Godfather release worth having.  It is a marked improvement over the past release and the packaging is really gorgeous with the barley theme and copious amounts of liner notes.  

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  1. Traffic at their best
    • Pros
    • Complete tape and excellent sound quality.
    • Cons
    • None!

    Once again the Godfather label deliver the goods by reissuing a circulating bootleg tape in upgraded sound and with beautiful packaging. As GS and Wgspec point out, this classic 1970 performance at the Paris Theatre has never sounded so good – nor been so complete. Traffic are amazingly effective as a live trio, and I think all the John Barleycorn LP tracks here far surpass their studio counterparts. The versions of ‘Pearly Queen’ and ‘Who knows …’ are also very sharp. I just wish that John Peel would shut up between songs sometimes and light another joint!

  2. This sounds incredible! It is a huge improvement over Pop Spectacular: BBC 1970 (no label). Godfather being slightly more complete with bonus tracks makes this the clear winner. I can’t imagine these sessions being upgraded any further.


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