John Barleycorn Must Die
Traffic's third and most exploratory LP is also regarded as the band’s accidental reunion album. Traffic had disbanded following its eponymous 1968 sophomore record. Subsequently, Steve Winwood joined up with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech for the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith before recording the soul-folk tune “Stranger to Himself” and the rootsy acid-rock ballad “Every Mother’s Son” for what was supposed to be his solo debut. But Winwood longed for collaboration, so he called on drummer Jim Capaldi and multi-instrumentalist Chris Wood, making for Traffic's inadvertent rebirth. The soulful opener, “Glad,” and the folky title track best exemplify the rich chemistry of these three musical luminaries. The latter is a reworking of the traditional English folk song “John Barleycorn,” an ode to barley-based libations. Traffic brilliantly kept its roots intact while brewing its own concoction of folk-rock similar to that of Fairport Convention, save for some exemplary flute playing by Wood. This remaster boasts crystalline fidelity while respecting the original 1970 hard-panned production values.