John Barleycorn Must Die



by robo2448 USER (7 Reviews)
October 29th, 2005 | 17 replies

Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Traffic was formed in 1967 by keyboardist/singer Steve Winwood when Winwood was just 18 years old. They enjoyed success with psychadelic albums such as their debut, Mr. Fantasy, and their second album, simply titled Traffic. The group was having problems with lead guitarist Dave Mason though. Mason left the group after Mr. Fantasy, then rejoined for their self titled album before quitting the group again. Traffic disbanded. But Steve Winwood still owed the record company more albums and after releasing Last Exit, which consisted of some live and unreleased tracks, and playing in the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith, Winwood, still just 22 years old, decided to make his solo debut. But Winwood eventually called on former Traffic drummer Jim Capaldi to play on a couple of tracks. Then Chris Wood, former Traffic member who played saxaphone and flute, got into the mix. So this album turned into a Traffic album, instead of just a Winwood solo album. I put the genre of this album as rock, but it is much more than that. Some songs are jazz-rock like the first song, while others like the title track are folk-oriented. Traffic fused a bunch of different musical styles together and I didn't know what genre to pick so I just went with rock.

The band:
Steve Winwoo- Lead vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass
Jim Capaldi- Vocals, drums and ercussion
Chris Wood- Flute, saxaphone, and organ

Now onto the song by song review:

Glad- A really amazing album opener. This brilliant instrumental The song starts with a really jazzy piano riff from Winwood, that will never leave your head. I can never get enough of Winwood's piano riff, it's awesome. Then the band goes into a great jam with some really great sax work from Chris Wood. The sax solo is long and he uses some great effects. A great way to start the album off. 5/5

Freedom Rider- Glads moves right into this song. This song starts off with an eery piano riff and some saxophone that adds to the mood of the song. Then Winwood's singing comes in. Winwood has a truly incredible voice and his vocals are very soulful. The song has a great funky bassline. Chris Wood chips in with some nice flute fills and then plays a great flute solo. I've never thought lyrics were one of Steve Winwood's strengths but I really like the lyrics here with lots of imagery describing a character who just does what he wants to do. I especially love the last minute of the song where everything just comes together with Winwood playing a great riff on piano, doing some brilliant singing, and accompanying the piano playing on organ. Capaldi speeds up the rythm and Wood brings the flute back in the last 30 seconds. Great song. 5/5

Empty Pages- This is my favorite Traffic song. Winwood's vocals are of course brilliant. The lyrics are also good. They just make you feel better, as Winwood is singing about how things will get better soon. An optimistic song. It's kind of a story about a man whose life has pretty much been a waste, but he's looking forward to better days. The electric piano provides a great jazzy groove, while a ringing organ accompanies the chorus. Then Winwood goes on an awesome electric piano solo. This solo is the highlight of the album for me, just great stuff. The solo goes on for about a minute and a half before the chorus comes back in. There's also pretty good drumming on this song, with Winwood chipping in with a few nice fills. 5/5

I Just Want You to Know- This is a filler song, just 1 minute and 32 seconds long, with the title of the song being sung over and over again by Winwood with do-da-do-do repeated in the background. However, there is some nice guitarwork from Winwood in the end, and if this had been a full song, it would have been really good. 3/5

Stranger to Himself- The song starts off with some bluesy acoustic guitar licks from Winwood. The songs lyrics are about an allienated person and Winwood criticizes close-minded people. The song has a funky piano riff with some nice acoustic fills and also some nice electric guitar fills. About halfway through there's a pretty good electric guitar solo and after some more singing, there's another outro solo. 4/5

John Barleycorn- This is a cover of an old English folk song. The earliest records of the song date back to the 1500's. I love the acoustic riff on this song. Winwood and Capaldi sing a duet. Winwood has a much better voice than Capaldi, but their voices go very well together and they compliment each other nicely. Chris Wood great flute solos add a lot to the melancholy mood of the song. 5/5

Every Mothers Son- A nice guitar riff introduces the longest song on the album. The riff comes drifts in and out of the song, as Winwood contributes some nice fills. Capaldi contributes a few nice drum fills. Chris Wood wasn't in the fold yet when this song was recorded. Winwood has a good lengthy organ solo in this song. It's a good organ solo, but he's done better. I really like Steve's singing in this song too, but I love his voice in every song. This song originally closed the album, and I the way the song is structured, this would have been a perfect song to close the album out. 4.5/5

Sittin' Here Thinkin' Of My Love- A nice sad song but not anything that great. Good singing by Winwood and everything thing about the song is good, but nothing is great about it. As I said before, Every Mothers Son would have been great to close the album out with, so this song almost hurts it. Sorry, not much else I can really say about this song. 3/5

Overall I give this album 5/5. It's a really great album and none of the songs are bad. The two bonus tracks, I Just Want You to Know and Sittin' Here Thinkin' Of My Love are probably the two weakest tracks on the album, but are still good songs and don't hurt the album's flow too much. The band jams on most of the songs, with almost all of them having some form of lengthy solo. I haven't heard enough of Traffic to determine if it's their best album, but I think it's a briliant album. Steve Winwood is just incredible. He contributes some really great, soulful singing, brilliant keyboard work, and some nice guitar-work too. You always here about how great a keyboardist he is, but never here about him as a guitarist. He's nowhere near as good at guitar as he is at keyboard, but he's a pretty underrated guitarist. Chris Wood contributes some very memorable sax work on Glad, and great flute solos on Freedom Rider and John Barleycorn. Capaldi is just steady throughout. You won't see spectacular drumming from him, but he keeps time well and adds some nice drum fills every once in a while. The album is definitely a 5/5

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user ratings (140)

Comments:Add a Comment 
October 29th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

I wish I knew how to edit my reviews. I forgot to rate Empty Pages, John Barleycorn, and Every Mother's Son. Empty Pages and John Barleycorn should be 5/5 and Every Mothers Son should be 4.5

October 29th 2005


Go to your User CP, then select "edit review". It's self-explanatory from there.

October 29th 2005


Album Rating: 2.5

Meh review, I advise you to add more detail to the seperate tracks.

I never thought too much of this album, although "Glad" is an amazing song.

October 29th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Okay I edited the review and tried to add some more detail. Sorry I started writing this review because I was really bored, and then a friend called me up and I had to go so I just tried to get it done as quickly as possible. That's why there were a bunch of typos too. Hopefully it's better now. Thanks for the feedback.

October 30th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review. I love this album.

October 30th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

OK I fixed that. The first time I read through my review I noticed that I forgot to rate it, then when I went back to edit it I forgot to rate it again. Empty Pages is such an amazing song, one of my favorite songs of all time. The keyboard solo is just so awesome.

January 20th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Great mixture of rock, jazz, and folk.

January 23rd 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

great shit

January 24th 2012



October 9th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off


January 4th 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

Great album indeed. Nice fusion of prog, blues, folk and soul.

September 3rd 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Staring at empty pages

September 3rd 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

"Nice fusion of prog, blues, folk and soul."

Agreed, though maybe a bit too much of the latter three and not enough of the former.

September 3rd 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

"a bit too much of the latter three and not enough of the former."

Jammed this for the first time yesterday actually, and that was exactly my first impression. Could be better with more prog, but blues, folk and soul make a great fusion anyway

July 13th 2020


Album Rating: 3.5

flutes of truth

February 8th 2022


Album Rating: 4.0

This is my kinda thing

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