VARIOUS ARTISTS – Breakthrough: The Underground Sounds Of 1971

According to music historian and author David Hepworth, 1971 is “rock’s most exciting year”. There are a lot of music fans of a certain age who would agree with that: those keen record buyers who still treasure well worn copies of Uriah Heep’s ‘Salisbury’, Caravan’s ‘In The Land of Grey & Pink’, Hawkwind’s ‘In Search of Space’ and Rory Gallagher’s ‘Deuce’; people who’d hit their early twenties in time to hear Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ and Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s ‘Tarkus’ with fresh ears when the sounds of those hugely indulgent arrangements sounded like the future; and certainly not forgetting those for whom the first three Black Sabbath albums heralded the arrival of a whole new genre, but arguably hit perfection in ’71. There’s a lot of further weight to be added to the argument that 1971 is musically significant, with lesser known albums by Samurai and Jade Warrior propping up the art-rock scene, The Zombies’ Colin Blunstone delivering an absolutely killer solo debut with ‘One Year’ and Phil Collins making his first major appearance with Genesis. All of that barely scratches the surface, of course, but it’s fair to say there was always far more to 1971 than Led Zeppelin’s monolithic fourth platter and ‘Who’s Next’.

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Jim Capaldi’s classic 1975 album ‘Short Cut Draw Blood’ to get digital release

Compared to his recorded legacy with Traffic, Jim Capaldi’s solo work has often been overlooked.  His first three albums for Island Records – ‘Oh How We Danced’, ‘Whale Meat Again’ and ‘Short Cut Draw Blood’ – were given the opportunity for re-appraisal in 2020 when Cherry Red Records released a box set containing all three albums, plus a selection of welcomed extra materials.  Good news for physical format buyers, but it left digital purchasers and serial streamers short, since 1975’s ‘Short Cut Draw Blood’ was omitted from digital services.

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JIM CAPALDI – Oh How We Danced

1972 was a particularly fruitful year for rock and pop music. That year saw The Rolling Stones release their critically acclaimed ‘Exile On Main Street’; Yes explored deep sonic textures on their indulgent ‘Close To The Edge’; Alice Cooper achieved worldwide acclaim and a massive hit single with ‘School’s Out’; Deep Purple gave us ‘Machine Head and Bowie introduced us to ‘Ziggy Stardust’. That might have been enough to make it great, but in addition, Steely Dan made their debut with the brilliant ‘Can’t Buy A Thrill’; Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ was a massive success and Roxy Music‘s debut album sounded as if it were beamed in from another planet. The year also spawned T. Rex’s ‘The Slider’, Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Talking Book’, Joni Mitchell’s ‘For The Roses’, Elton’s ‘Honky Chateau’ and Van’s ‘Saint Dominic’s Preview’. With several dozen essential albums, 1972 had so much to give…and often feels like one of those years that keeps giving.

It was also the year that Jim Capaldi released his solo debut. It wasn’t something the Traffic multi-instrumentalist and songwriter had necessarily planned; it came about through a cruel twist of fate. Towards the end of 1971, Traffic were riding high with their fourth studio album ‘The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’, but disaster struck when Steve Winwood suffered an appendicitis and subsequently became very ill with peritonitis, forcing the band to take a break. Rather than rest, Capaldi took the time to quickly record a selection of his own material during December, and that appeared on record shop shelves as ‘Oh How We Danced’ in March ’72. Kick starting what turned out to be a successful solo career, it had been a serendipitous twist in the Traffic saga.

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WATCH: Traffic – Live at Woodstock ’94

One of the last things anyone would have expected in the 90s was the return of Traffic, the 70s rock band featuring Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi.  Arguably Britain’s closest answer to Grateful Dead, brilliant as they were, Traffic’s lengthy jazz-rock derived jams belonged squarely in the early time frame where most of them were created.  The likelihood of a Traffic comeback became increasingly unlikely once Steve Winwood’s pop-oriented solo career made him a massive star in the 1980s.

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