There is a massive traffic jam on DC-5. Nothing is moving. All a driver can do is relax and turn on the radio. Suddenly a man approaches and knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks “What’s going on?” Terrorist have kidnapped congress and are asking for a 10 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. The man continues “We are going from car to car taking up a collection” The driver asks “How much is everyone giving?” The man replies “About a gallon or so.” (ooh, little bit of politics!)
On The Road is the second live album by English rock band Traffic released in 1973. Recorded live in Germany, it features the Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory band, (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Rebop Kwaku Baah) with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section of keyboardist Barry Beckett, bassist David Hood, and drummer Roger Hawkins.
This was quite a strange listen for me. All I know about Traffic is that it featured the glorious vocals of Steve Winwood (ex-Spencer Davis Group) and the songs Paper Fun, Hole In My Shoe and a couple of other late 60’s psychedelic songs. I knew that they may have changed their sound a bit, but I didn’t know how far until I heard this. It seems like they went down a Eric Burdon’s War/quasi-Santana route, with a side helping of jazz. The first couple of songs are pretty long jazzy jams that meander a lot and didn’t engage me and it made my mind go wandering (where it will go). The latter part of the album livens up a bit, there’s some tasty solos by Winwood but the songs still have that sub-Santana jam feel to them. Even Winwood’s voice, usually strong and powerful, sounds quite lifeless and muted.
Is it excessive? Yes. There’s only 6 tracks on here and 4 of them are over 10 minutes and for the most part quite dull. Would I listen to it again? No. There really is nothing here to entice me back. I’d much rather listen to the superior 1971 release Welcome To The Canteen. Would I recommend it? Not really. It’s quite a chore to listen to, I wouldn’t want to infect this on anyone I know. Is there a drum solo? No, though it probably could have done with one.
When I’m not impressed with an album on first listen, I usually give it a few more spins before judging it and I did that with this one but it still didn’t connect. So for that reason I’m giving this a 4/10, not an album I’ll be returning to. Until next time, TTFN.