Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Traffic Live at Santa Monica|
Director: Allan L. Muir
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
TRAFFIC-LIVE AT SANTA MONICA (DVD AUDIO)
A diamond from the rough
running_man | Chesterfield Twp., MI | 03/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What's to explain this? Is 'Traffic Live At Santa Monica' a stroke of pure genius or dumb luck? Whatever the case may be, we are blessed that Island Records and Columbia Pictures saw fit in 1972 to amble into the 3,000 seat Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and commit to filming sixty-five minutes of classic Traffic. Considering that the band had just released their definitive album, 'The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys' (and was only two albums removed from dissolving altogether), the timing of this recording couldn't have been better. One does wonder what Columbia's intent was however, and why 'Live At Santa Monica' never made it (to my knowledge) to movie theatres or a television broadcast. There were some programs, such as public television's 'Austin City Limits' or ABC's 'Don Kirshner's In Concert' late-night program, that presented edited concerts to audiences in the 1970's, but other than that, what was the market for this recording? There are absolutely no filmed concerts of other bands that were large from this era, such as The Allman Brothers Band or Derek and the Dominos, so we're extremely fortunate to have this nugget.
There is little to complain about here... it is almost entirely what you would want: a straightforward presentation of the band in concert, sans narration, even sans an announcer in the auditorium. There are no, I repeat, NO audience shots (although some views of Traffic freaks in the early 1970's could have been initially entertaining, in the long run they only detract from the experience), and very little audience noise. There seem to be endless camera angles achieved, and close-ups of the performers from virtually every perspective imaginable. You're looking over Steve Winwood's shoulder as he tickles the ivories on his organ and piano, or inches from the fretboard on his mint green guitar; you're a foot from Chris Wood's face as saliva glistens on his lips during his flute solo's; you're catching flashes of Rebop Kwakubaah's white palms alternating with his otherwise dark African skin as he slaps out his conga solo on 'Rainmaker'; and you're examining Jim Capaldi's eyes staring out between his locks of black hair as he sings the lead on 'Light Up Or Leave Me Alone'. It's incredible to realize you are watching this band at such a seminal moment in their career.
The setlist is impressive, although I personally could live without the more subdued offerings ('John Barleycorn' and 'Forty Thousand Headmen'). Each performance is solid, however, so it's all a matter of taste. The video opens with faithful renditions of 'Low Spark...' and 'Light Up...'. While Winwood never possessed great stage presence, anyone familiar with his work can savor this rare opportunity to experience his art live. His guitar work is exemplary however, and a joy to behold on both 'Light Up...' and especially the closer, 'Dear Mr. Fantasy'. Jim Capaldi is more of a front man for the band, although aside from his solo on 'Light Up...' and some backing vocals, all he contributes is tambourine & maracas, some good dance moves, and a bold outfit consisting of a purple silk shirt, black sequined pants, and pink high-heeled shoes. In fact, every member of the band has some interesting post-hippie garb. Kwakubaah is center stage throughout the concert, illuminating the lack of, and also the lack of a need for, a visual appeal. In 1972 it was still the music that mattered most.
'Rainmaker' follows 'John Barleycorn' in a subdued, hypnotic style, and finishes up with a fine five-minute conga solo from Rebop. 'Glad' and 'Freedom Rider' are presented as a medley in the same fashion as they are performed on the band's 'On the Road' album. The seque between the songs features the only diversion in the filming, straying into a segment of '2001: A Space Odyssey' inspired psychedelic tomfoolery. While it stands as the only objectionable element of the film, it is, understandably, totally consistant with the era, and mercifully lasts only a few minutes.
'Traffic Live At Santa Monica' is currently out-of-print and has never been issued on DVD, and indeed may never be. It appears to me that many of the VHS copies on the market today are ex-rental store copies. I would think that most fans of the band who purchased personal copies of the tape are unlikely to want to part with it, and your chances of running across a sealed copy in a store are slim and none. If you enjoy the music of Traffic I would suggest that you make every effort to obtain a copy of this tape, even an ex-rental, while they're still available at somewhat reasonable prices. Since the shelf life of video tape is only 10 to 12 years, it may also be wise to produce a back up copy of any original tape you may be able to get your hands on."
Am I Dreaming?
E. J. Ryan | South Africa | 11/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to pinch myself to prove I'm not dreaming - I still can hardly believe such a recording exists. I've rated Traffic as one of my top bands since the mid Seventies - but living in a backwater in the middle of Africa I knew of nobody else who liked this band, so it continued as my little secret until the Internet age and I found out there were other people out there who had the same taste as me.
I own everything by Traffic (which unfortunately isn't much) but I've never read up anything on the band or done any research whatsoever (well, thinking nobody else liked the band) and had never even heard of this recording until I accidentally came across it listed on Amazon just a few weeks ago. How to get it became a bit of an issue as Amazon no longer mails packages to South Africa (where I now live) because the thieving bastards in this country's post office steal foreign packages.
I finally twigged to get it from UK and got to listen to one of my top bands in their prime. I have the Traffic Jam DVD, which is itself outstanding but in a completely different way to this no-frills performance. I like to see bands both in their prime, and preferably young looking, and this recording fits the bill on all counts. What I don't like is backup singers, a brass section and alternative guitarists and drummers, or MTV-style editing.
I tend to suffer from incurable over-expectation - I've been disappointed by so many live recordings, not necessarily because they're bad, but just hyped up in these reviews. Not so with this one. One couldn't ask for anything different.
I usually also have had enough of one band after an hour or so - and this was one of the few that I REALLY wished there was more to watch at the end.
A few observations:
* I was amazed at the role of Jim Capaldi, which was negligible, and don't know what to make of it. In this case, there WAS a replacement drummer.
* I expected Steve Winwood to look all geeky and gawpy (based on photos on album covers), but he looked quite the virile rock star.
* For all his lack of stage activity, I believe Steve has an amazing presence. I bought Eric Clapton's Crossroads just for the Steve Winwood section - whenever he's on stage the performance is just amazing, which makes it all the harder to explain why his solo music is so average (on a par with Phil Collins in my estimation).
* The only below-average song I thought was John Barleycorn. It's one of my favourite songs and for the first half I though his voice was weak. But he changed gear and ended on a real high note. Mr Fantasy was a highlight for me, as it always is. Makes my hair stand on end.
No Traffic fan should be permitted to be without this recording."
An Amazing demonstation of Unrecognized Talent
E. J. Ryan | 05/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This tape shows how amazing Traffic is. This video being taped in 1972 when the band played like it was there last show. Winwood hit every note perfectly and Wood on was amazing at Saxaphone and Flute. Reebop was awesome they even included a little bongo solo which is amazing. This is a tape that should be owned by every Traffic/Steve Winwood even Classic Rock fan. They play all they're greatest hits including:Low spark of the High Heeled Boys
Light Up or Leave Me Alone
Forty Thousand Headmen
Dear Mr. Fantasy(All of these songs they played flawlessly)"
"Glad" to see this out on DVD (finally)
T. Scarillo | Studio City, CA | 12/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This has been a long time in coming to DVD - given the absence of 'vintage' Traffic on DVD ( i don't even know if any footage is available of the 'original' 4 man lineup), this will have to suffice - but it's completely worth having. I wish it ran more than 65 minutes. The musicianship is excellent - Winwood is nothing short of amazing, playing keys and guitar (and this guy can PLAY guitar - not a lot of people realize just how good he is). The lineup is the latter-version of Traffic (w/ Hood and Hawkins, plus Reebop, in addition to Wood/Capaldi/Winwood), that played on the last few albums of theirs. Performances are very good; picture quality is typical early-70's videotape source (this has some picture flutters that look like master problems, typical of tech limitations/age, but nothing major). Sound is very good (it says you can listen in 5.1 simulated on the case, but i played it in straight 2-channel and it was good sound; i'm not into 'simulated' 5.1). If you're into Traffic/Winwood, you'll want this DVD.
Interesting fact: Taylor Hackford was the producer on this (according to the end credits). Must've been some early pre-feature work of his?"