Saturday, October 3, 2015

Traffic - 1969 "Last Exit"

Last Exit, released in May 1969, is the third album by English rock band Traffic. It is a collection of odds and ends put together by Island Records after the initial breakup of the band. The album reached number 19 in the American Billboard charts.[1] As implied by the cover photos, the album features the original lineup of Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason, though Mason does not actually appear on most of the songs.

Many of the songs of this album were originally released on mono singles. The versions that appear on this album are re-mixed for stereo and sometimes have significant differences. The original American LP has different artwork on the cover. The front features a different picture of the band cut up into the shape of the band's logo with a black background.
"Just For You" was previously released in February 1968 as the A-side of a UK Dave Mason solo single. (The B-side was "Little Woman".) This was released after Mason left Traffic the first time, following Mr. Fantasy. Conveniently for its use on this album, the other members of Traffic backed up Mason on this track. "Medicated Goo" and "Shanghai Noodle Factory" were the A- and B-sides, of a UK Traffic single released in December 1968. Mason does not appear on these tracks. "Medicated Goo" has a false ending on the single which does not appear here. The song would become a staple of the re-formed band's live performances in 1970-71.
"Something's Got a Hold of My Toe" is an instrumental and appears to be an outtake not originally intended for release. It is unclear why producer Jimmy Miller (a lyricist elsewhere on the album) gets a co-writing credit on this. "Withering Tree" was previously released as the B-side to "Feelin' Alright" (September 1968), although the version on the LP is slightly different from the single. Dave Mason does not appear on this although it was probably recorded while he was still in the band. The two Fillmore West live tracks that make up the second half do not feature Mason.

What a unique and gifted group. Jim Capaldi, writing and playing this music, was as steady, soulful, funky and sensitive a drummer as they come. Chris Wood wrung so much emotion from his winds, to me he's? in a class by himself, and too soon gone. Steve Winwood is a superb songwriter, beautiful acoustic piano, and no one made the Hammond B-3 do what he did. And his voice!! Dave Mason, a top-notch songwriter himself, never did better work than during his time with these three wonderful musicians.

Track listing

    "Just for You" (Dave Mason) – 2:18
    "Shanghai Noodle Factory" (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, Jimmy Miller, Larry Fallon) – 5:06
    "Something's Got a Hold of My Toe" (Winwood, Mason, Miller) – 2:14
    "Withering Tree" (Winwood, Capaldi) – 3:04
    "Medicated Goo" (Winwood, Miller) – 3:36
    "Feelin' Good" (live) (Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse) – 10:40
    "Blind Man" (live) (Deadric Malone, Joseph Scott) – 7:06


    Steve Winwood – organ, lead vocals (all but 1), piano, bass, guitar (2, 5)
    Jim Capaldi – drums, percussion, backing vocals
    Chris Wood – flute, saxophone, organ
    Dave Mason – guitar (1, 3), lead vocals (1)