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UMe reissuing six Traffic catalog titles

Individual box set albums are available on 180-gram vinyl May 14th

UMe will individually reissue six Traffic catalog titles individually on vinyl from the 2019 Traffic – The Studio Albums 1967-74 box set. Titles include Mr. Fantasy, Traffic, John Barleycorn Must Die, The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys, Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory and When The Eagle Flies on 180-gram vinyl. All are remastered from their original source tapes with artwork that is caringly overseen and interpreted.

In December 1967 Traffic released their debut album Mr. Fantasy on Island records. Rolling Stone called the album “one of the best from any contemporary group” and has become a staple on almost any best album poll from the 20th and 21st centuries!

The second offering from Traffic, October 1968 would be their self titled album, achieving a strong balance between Dave Mason’s simple and straightforward folk-rock songs and Steve Winwood’s complex and often haunting rock jams would see the album peak at No. 16 on the US Billboard Chart. This album is a must for any newcomer or indeed, seasoned Traffic fan.

After a brief disbandment, Traffic returned in summer of 1970 with John Barleycorn Must Die, hitting No. 5 on the US Billboard Chart and thus making it their highest ever peak position in the US. John Barleycorn would take the band’s jazz/rock leanings beyond mere jamming and give Winwood excuse to exercise his expressive voice as punctuation to the extended instrumental sections.

Signaling the commercial and artistic apex of the second coming of Traffic, The Low Spark Of The High Heeled Boys would reach gold less than a year after its release and eventually reach sales beyond that of platinum.

Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory is the sixth studio album by Traffic. It would meet mixed reviews from the music press but none the less singles like “Evening Blue” and “(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired” are high points. They summarized that the album “embodies the inconsistencies that beset the band as well as the high points that have kept Traffic moving.

When the Eagle Flies was the band’s fourth consecutive studio album to reach the top 10 on the Billboard Chart and have gold album status. The album would portray a bleaker tone than previous outings and peaks superbly on “Graveyard People” and “Walking in the Wind”. Traffic toured to support the release, but they disbanded in the middle of the tour in 1974.

Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, Traffic came to prominence in the late 1960’s with a distinctive sound which quickly earned them UK Top Ten hits in the shape of “Paper Sun” and “Hole In My Shoe” before releasing their first album, Mr. Fantasy in December 1967. Formed earlier that year, Traffic comprised vocalist/organist Steve Winwood (still only 18 years old at the time); drummer/singer Jim Capaldi; singer/guitarist Dave Mason and reed player Chris Wood. Alongside contemporaries like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Traffic set about shifting the boundaries of rock music, experimenting with sound and incorporating elements of blues, soul and jazz to create their own unique oeuvre. A key part of their story is their retreat to a communal stone cottage in Berkshire, where they took inspiration from their natural surroundings and worked without distraction, writing and rehearsing the material for the first two albums, Mr. Fantasy and Traffic (1968).

Always revolving around the three core members, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, Traffic had as few as three and as many as seven members between the years 1967 to 1974 but despite all the personnel changes and shifts, they remained a force to be reckoned with until deciding to split in 1974, having given their final performance on August 31st and releasing their last album, When the Eagle Flies.