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Traffic — Mr. Fantasy (AKA Heaven Is in Your Mind)
(Island Records 314 542 324-2, 1967/2000, CD)

Traffic — John Barleycorn Must Die
(Island Records 314 548 541-2, 1970/2001, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2002-04-01

Mr. Fantasy (AKA Heaven Is in Your Mind) Cover artJohn Barleycorn Must Die Cover art

The legacy of Steve Winwood arguably extends from psychedelic pop roots to what would become a staple of 70s progressive rock. Island records has shown the proper care for Winwood's old archetypal band by re-issuing the first four albums by the group including UK and American track listings. Heaven is in Your Mind was the US release of what would be known as Mr. Fantasy in the rest of the world and features Winwood along with Dave Mason leading the quartet in what was then a fashionable experimentation of songcraft. Merging Eastern and rock influences, the ensemble was at the top of the charts and the envy of songwriters as well. Besides FM hits such as "Paper Sun" and the title track, this re-issue also includes bonus tracks such as "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" and "Am I What I Was Or Was What I Am", which fit in well the album tracks proper. John Barleycorn Must Die was a retrench for Winwood, having survived the aftermath of his match-up with Eric Clapton in Blind Faith. Linking up with drummer Jim Capaldi and reedman Chris Wood, Winwood was unfettered to create what would be one of the most important works for him personally. The opening tracks, "Glad / Freedom Rider" show the up-front keyboard side of the composer and the ability for the group to establish a jazzy jamming mode that had not surfaced until this time. Tracks such as "Empty Pages" indicate the singer's ability to carve a memorable lyric and then directly lead into a piano solo. The title track is an arrangement from the UK folk tradition, which captures the group in a rare acoustic moment. "Sittin' Here Thinkin' of My Love" is the added bonus track here and also a non-distinct ballad.  Along with Traffic and Last Exit, these releases personify the push for advanced rock and roll and the trend toward progressive rock.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 24, 2000 releases, 1967 recordings, 2001 releases, 1970 recordings

Related artist(s): Traffic


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