Traffic, John Barleycorn Must Die, United Artists UAS-5504, 1970
The era of the Anglo-American super group was in full swing by 1970. Like conference realignment in college sports, once the teams star switching around, it takes a while for the dust to settle. The Hollies and The Byrds may not have had much in common, but their cast offs created some really great music together. This album could be one of the more wacky combinations of them all.
Steve Winwood was the teenaged lead singer for The Spencer Davis Group. He quickly left to form Traffic, which had immediate success before breaking up in 1969. Winwood joined Blind Faith with Eric Clapton for their one terrific album. The plan for this album was for it to be Steve Winwood’s first solo record. But when he showed the first few tunes to some of his old Traffic bandmates, they decided to re-form and finish the record as a Traffic album.
I just wish it was a better record. It isn’t bad per se, but there’s no hidden gems or hit singles. There are only six songs, but they’re all really long and border on freeform improvisation. Because of the band’s reputation, it sold really well, peaking at #5 and being certified Gold, but because it kinda stinks, it’s a very easy record to find today. It sold as well as the average Led Zeppelin album, but people actually want those records and not this one. I’ll give it a listen every n ow and then, but John Barleycorn really did die here.
Cost: $2, $387 Remaining