Traffic, When The Eagle Flies, Isla d/Asylum
He wants to know if I see some sort of trend. He asks me, "Where are they going, I mean, from the highpoint of The Low Spark of High-heeled Boys! ? Straight down, I said to him, but I'll go home, put on the headphones and give it another chance.
So now I'm here to tell all you Traffïc fans out there in radioland to watch out for this one. Watch out in the Beware sense, not the avid expectation sense. Consider this question carefully before you reach out and take When The Eagle Flies off the rack. What do you want from Traffïc?
This is primarily a mood album, not a melody album. There are not many numbers here with the same excitement as "Coloured Rain," "Shanghai Noodle Factory" or the aforementioned classic "Low Spark." The first song will warn you. It's called "Something New," and it's nothing new at all. That's the hook. It's your archetypal Traffïc song, a bouncy opener, but it tells the listener through the title that experiments are being conducted here. Experiments are dangerous. Things can blow up. As on the second cut, the long set piece "Dream Gerrard." The song has three minutes of melodic ideas, followed by eight minutes of textural ideas. In other words, once Winwood has established the rhythmic line, he pours on everything he can. The cut is positively cluttered with Winwood's technical expertise. There's a lot of Joe Zawinul-Chick Corea sounding electric piano and too much synthesizer. Winwood is very good on every instrument, but it is nothing but boards placed over a well- it's a long way to the bottom.
What I have said about "Dream Gerrard" applies to most of the other cuts. A lot of fine playing is apparent, but there isn't enough of a structure to hang it around.
There is only one very bad cut, embarrassingly dull; one particularly infectious one called "Memories of a Rock 'N Rolla," and a fragment called "Love" which seemed to be a few bars left over from previous albums. And the lyrics are generally pretty mediocre. I made the mistake of listening to this album the first time with the lyrics in front of me. If you do go out and buy this album, don't make that same mistake. Get the feeling of it all first, give it a chance before you read Jim Capaldi's meager efforts. Because it'll bring you down, it's so morbid. And the mood, which I mentioned previously, will turn from a slightly mysterious one, to pure desperation.
So he wants to know if I see a trend here. No. This album is not as dull as Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory, and that was the most noticeable trait of that last studio effort. It bears very little relation to Traffic's body of work at all. I see it primarily as a missed mark, an experiment which Winwood has fudged a bit for the lab report. There is good playing here, but little good music; effects without causes. So no, 1 don't see a trend. At least, I hope there isn't one here.