TRAFFIC — John Barleycorn Must Die (review)

TRAFFIC — John Barleycorn Must Die album cover Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
seyo
From the opening piano notes of the remarkable instrumental "Glad" to the closing Hammond chords of "Every Mother's Son", this album recorded in 1970 in the trio formation without D. Mason, is generally regarded as TRAFFIC's peak.

It is surely very strong album with practically zero bad moments and quite balanced production from start to finish. However, overall music picture for me stands as somewhat empty and unfinished. What is important is that, after the break with Mason, the trio started to explore further into the sort of "fusion" territory, abandoning their psychedelic bluesy roots. Winwood kept his blues and soul colours in his songwriting but also added important jazz improvisation elements, most evident on "Glad", bringing TRAFFIC closer to the current development of jazz rock at the beginning of the decade.

British folk tradition is not abandoned, which is evident in the wonderful cover of the title track, a mythological personification of the alcohol discovery in the shape of barley, its use and production through "killing", and subsequent revenge of the "resurrected" alcohol against men. A highly recommended album, although I would always trade it with the next one - "The Low Sparks of High Heeled Boys".
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