Unlike the hapless pair in Withnail & I, Traffic didn’t have to go as far as Penrith to pursue the 60s ideal of getting it together in the country.
Indeed, Stevie Winwood had his bucolic idyll sorted out by Island Records’ boss Chris Blackwell, who found The Cottage in Berkshire, depicted on the sleeve of 1967 debut Mr. Fantasy.
Weary of playing suited soul, Winwood found kindred spirits in Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi and Dave Mason. While Mason’s Feeling Alright? is a high point of their second self-titled album, his pop sensibility is not at the heart of why Traffic remain so listenable. At their best – arguably third LP John Barleycorn Must Die – it’s Capaldi’s rhythmic changes, Wood’s mellifluous flute and Winwood’s commanding bluesy tenor.
First edition ‘pink eye’ label Island editions are now ludicrously collectable, so these remasters are a good place to start.