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Published: 2008/12/03
by Brian Ferdman

Traffic - Live in Santa Monica 1972

Pearson Productions Iimited PPCR 019

The short-lived Traffic was unlike any other pop act of its day. With heavy leanings toward jazz and traditional English folk and without a dominant guitarist, their sound was quite unique. Nevertheless, they attracted a large following, thanks in part to the prodigal musicianship and songwriting of Steve Winwood, who is certainly the focal point of the newly released DVD, Traffic – Live in Santa Monica.

Edited down from a full show into a fleet 61 minutes, all of the major hits are here with no filler. The band is in fine form with Winwood taking the spotlight on every number, aside from Jim Capaldi's lead on the funky "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone." While "Glad" doesn't quite have the same punch with Winwood on the Hammond B-3 instead of the piano, "40,000 Headmen" revels in a jazzy groove, thanks in part to Chris Wood's mysterious flute. Of course, the "Dear Mr. Fantasy" finale rips, thanks to Winwood's spiraling guitar. Throughout it all, conga player Reebop Kwakubaah serves as the unsung hero, adding plenty of texture and style to the various numbers.

While the image and sound quality is far from crystal-clear, it is not bad at all. The trippy visual effects that are laid over top of "Glad" only add to the atmosphere and don't distract from the music at hand. With all of the Greatest Hits performed here (and little else), Traffic Live at Santa Monica ’72 is a fine document of the best of a band at its peak.

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