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Traffic is an English rock band that was formed in 1967, consisting of Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood. The band is known for their unique sound, which combined elements of rock, jazz, and soul music, and for their intricate instrumentation and powerful vocal performances. Over the years, Traffic has released a number of critically acclaimed albums and singles, including “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Paper Sun,” and “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” Their music often explored themes of freedom, love, and social commentary, and their innovative sound has influenced countless musicians in the decades since their formation. In this article, we will explore some of the best Traffic songs of all time. From the psychedelic “The Dealer” to the soulful “John Barleycorn,” we will delve into the themes and musical elements that make these songs so memorable. Whether you’re a longtime fan or just discovering Traffic’s music, this list is sure to showcase the best of their unique style and talent. Join us as we take a journey through the best Traffic songs of all time, and discover why this band has remained a beloved fixture of the rock music scene for over five decades.
1. ‘The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’
“The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” is the title track of the 1971 album by British rock band Traffic. The song features a mesmerizing, jazz-influenced groove, with Steve Winwood’s vocals and organ playing taking center stage. The lyrics are a meditation on the transitory nature of fame, and the dangers of chasing success at the expense of one’s personal relationships and creative freedom. The song’s title has become a byword for the kind of elusive, indefinable quality that makes great music so special, and its extended instrumental sections showcase the virtuosity of the band’s members. “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” remains a classic of 1970s rock, and a testament to Traffic’s enduring legacy.
2. ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’
“Dear Mr. Fantasy” is a song by British rock band Traffic, released in 1967 on their debut album “Mr. Fantasy”. The song features a distinctive, psychedelic guitar riff and Steve Winwood’s soulful vocals. The lyrics are a tribute to the power of music to uplift and inspire, with the titular “Mr. Fantasy” representing the creative muse that inspires artists to create great art. The song has become a beloved classic of 1960s rock, and its catchy chorus and infectious groove have made it a staple of classic rock radio. “Dear Mr. Fantasy” remains one of Traffic’s most iconic songs, and a testament to their enduring influence on the rock music of the era.
3. ‘Freedom Rider
“Freedom Rider” is a song by British rock band Traffic, released in 1970 on their album “John Barleycorn Must Die”. The song features a driving, bluesy rhythm and Steve Winwood’s soulful vocals and organ playing. The lyrics are a metaphor for the spiritual quest for freedom and enlightenment, and the instrumental sections showcase the band’s virtuosity and improvisational skills. “Freedom Rider” is widely regarded as one of Traffic’s greatest achievements, and a highlight of their early 1970s output. The song has been covered by numerous artists over the years, and its message of hope and perseverance continues to resonate with listeners today.
4. ‘Feelin’ Alright’
“Feelin’ Alright” is a song written by Dave Mason, originally recorded by British rock band Traffic in 1968. The song features a catchy, upbeat melody and Mason’s distinctive vocals. The lyrics express a sense of optimism and resilience, despite the struggles and hardships of life. “Feelin’ Alright” has become a classic of 1960s rock, and has been covered by numerous artists over the years, including Joe Cocker, who had a hit with his version in 1969. The song’s infectious groove and positive message continue to make it a favorite of rock fans and radio stations alike.
5. ‘Rock & Roll Stew’
“Rock & Roll Stew” is a song by British rock band Traffic, released in 1971 on their album “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”. The song features a funky, bluesy groove and Steve Winwood’s soulful vocals and keyboard playing. The lyrics are a celebration of the power of music to bring people together, and the song’s infectious rhythm and catchy chorus make it a fan favorite. “Rock & Roll Stew” has become a staple of classic rock radio, and is often cited as one of the standout tracks on “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, which is considered one of Traffic’s greatest albums.
6. ‘John Barleycorn’
“John Barleycorn” is a traditional English folk song that has been covered by many artists over the years, including British rock band Traffic on their 1970 album of the same name. The song tells the story of the eponymous character, a personification of barley, who is harvested and made into beer and whiskey. The lyrics are filled with vivid imagery and metaphors, and the haunting melody has a timeless quality that has made the song a classic of British folk music. Traffic’s version of “John Barleycorn” features a hypnotic groove and Steve Winwood’s soulful vocals, and is widely regarded as one of the band’s finest recordings.
7. ‘Medicated Goo’
“Medicated Goo” is a song by Traffic, released in 1968 on their album “Last Exit”. The song features a funky, bluesy groove and playful lyrics that use drug metaphors to describe the intoxicating effects of love. The song is driven by Jim Capaldi’s infectious drumming and Steve Winwood’s soulful vocals and organ playing, and has become a fan favorite and a staple of classic rock radio. “Medicated Goo” is notable for its use of a Leslie speaker, which gives the organ a distinctive swirling, psychedelic sound. The song’s upbeat tempo and catchy chorus make it one of Traffic’s most upbeat and accessible tracks.
8. ‘(Roamin’ Thru the Gloamin’ With) 40,000 Headmen’
“(Roamin’ Thru the Gloamin’ With) 40,000 Headmen” is a song by Traffic, released in 1969 on their album “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”. The song features a jazzy, improvisational feel and a dreamy, atmospheric sound, with a haunting vocal melody and Steve Winwood’s signature organ playing. The song’s title is a reference to a Scottish folk song, “Roamin’ in the Gloamin'”, and the lyrics describe a surreal journey through a landscape of strange and mystical imagery. The song’s gentle, hypnotic groove and intricate instrumental interplay make it one of Traffic’s most musically sophisticated and adventurous compositions.
9. ‘You Can All Join In’
“You Can All Join In” is a song by Traffic, released in 1968 on their self-titled second album. The song has a catchy, upbeat feel with a strong rhythm guitar riff and a lively harmonica part. The lyrics encourage the listener to “join in” and be a part of the music, reflecting the communal spirit of the late 1960s. The song also features some tight vocal harmonies, showcasing the band’s strong vocal abilities. “You Can All Join In” was a minor hit in the UK, peaking at number 36 on the charts, and remains a beloved fan favorite among Traffic’s catalog.
10. ‘Paper Sun’
“Paper Sun” is the debut single by the English rock band Traffic, released in 1967. The song features a unique blend of psychedelic rock, jazz, and pop, with catchy melodies and intricate instrumental arrangements. The lyrics describe a surreal, dreamlike world of illusions and confusion, reflecting the countercultural ideals of the time. The song’s memorable flute riff and Dave Mason’s distinctive vocal style helped to establish Traffic’s signature sound and set them apart from their contemporaries. “Paper Sun” was a major hit in the UK, reaching number 5 on the charts, and remains one of Traffic’s most enduring songs.