It's hard to believe that Winwood was still only 22 years old at the time, such was his experience by that point, but this record has a depth and inventiveness that puts most of his then contemporaries firmly in the shade. After a break from recording his solo album to play with Ginger Baker’s Airforce, he tried to finish off "Glad," a jazz-influenced instrumental. However, he realised that what was missing was Jim Capaldi’s drumming and Chris Wood’s saxophone, something that made the whole album take off.
Some of the songs reflect the more pastoral sound of Blind Faith and Delaney & Bonnie, especially the likes of "Freedom Rider," The Fairport Convention influence comes firmly to the fore on the title track, with the Traffic rendition of the seventeenth century traditional folk song "John Barleycorn Must Die," a song that also appears on the bonus disc in an earlier incarnation.
The live tracks from the Fillmore East were recorded on November 18th and 19th for a projected live album. That album was shelved, and even though a couple of tracks ended up on the 1999 CD reissue, the versions here have never been previously released.
This is a superb album, the kind of record that only seemed to be made in the seventies when you could mix up jazz, blues, folk and even the odd bit of prog, and have it become a hit.
Traffic carried on for another few, solid if unspectacular albums, before Winwood went solo for a couple of highs but mainly musical lows. There was a brief nineties reunion, but if you've never heard this album before, give yourself a slap and make up for it now.