Beginning as an eclectic pop band with strong psychedelic leanings, Traffic increasingly moved toward jazz-influenced arrangements featuring extended instrumental jamming. Winwood, whose intensely soulful vocals had recently turned the Spencer Davis Group into a hit-making entity, invited woodwinds specialist Chris Wood, drummer Jim Capaldi, and guitarist Dave Mason to a countryside cottage to write material and rehearse. The resulting album, Mr. Fantasy (United Artists 6651; 1968), contained two Top Ten British singles, and became an FM-radio staple stateside. The artistic conflicts between Masonís pop songcraft and Winwoodís jazz leanings was reflected in the stylistically divergent selections comprising Traffic (United Artists 6676; 1968).
Following a patchwork farewell LP in 1969 entitled Last Exit (United Artists 6702), Winwood joined forces Cream alumni Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker and Rick Grech (formerly of Family) to form the supergroup Blind Faith. After one album and tour followed by the brief stint with Ginger Bakerís Air Force, Winwood reunited with Wood and Capaldi to record, John Barleycorn Must Die (United Artists 5504; 1970), Trafficís most commercially successful release, reaching number five on the pop album charts. The groupís lineup was expanded to include Grech, Mason, and percussionists Reebop Kwaku Baah and Jim Gordon for the live recording, Welcome to the Canteen (United Artists 5550; 1971). Gordon and Grech departed after the release of the gold album, The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys (Island 9306; 1971). Its laid-back, improvisational mode was continued in Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory (Island 9323; 1973), which included Muscle Shoals session players bassist David Hood and drummer Roger Hawkins. Yet another Muscle Shoals musician, keyboardist Barry Beckett, was added on the live Traffic on the Road (Island 9323; 1973).
After When the Eagle Flies (Asylum 1020; 1974), which featured the Trafficís original trio plus bassist Rosco Gee, Winwood and Capaldi concentrated on solo careers. By the 1990s, Wood, Grech, and Kwaku Baah would be dead, but Winwood and Capaldi recorded one more album together under the group name, Far From Home (1994).
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