Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Traffic - Single Mixes and Rarities (1967-74)


If any band exemplified the genre of “album rock” it was Traffic. Some of the group’s best songs were the longer ones that seemed custom-made for the old FM format of the '70s and '80s, like the album rock standard “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” Because the group became AOR favorites, their singles are less known today, even though they had several big hits in England. But in the U.S., they never cracked the Top 40, which now seems curious considering group member Steve Winwood's success in the 1980s.

But during the band's heyday, not only did Traffic regularly release 45s, but they put out some dedicated 45 mixes and/or edits that never made it to CD. I’ve rounded up a bunch of them here. Before I get into what’s what, there’s is one caveat to this collection: I only included tracks that are out-of-print and not currently-available on CD. So the standard single mixes from the group’s first two albums aren’t included because you can get them on the reissue CDs.

What follows is a set of rarities I put together from my own collection. The tracks are in chronological order except for the four bonus rarities (more on this below). In the track descriptions, I only included U.S. record chart info even though some UK singles are included. That's because I only have the Billboard books that cover the good ol' American charts.

Also, I’ve made it a point to accurately transcribe the titles on these singles. So “Rock & Roll Stew...Part 1” gets an ellipses (...), while the various version of “Walking in the Wind” are all written out the way they appeared on the labels. Scans of the discs are included so everyone can see what these elusive singles actually look like.

Track descriptions:

1. Paper Sun (Full-Length Stereo Version With Talking At The End)
“Paper Sun,” which was Traffic’s first charted hit in the U.S. (#94 in Sept. 1967), has an odd history when it comes to full-length stereo mixes. There are two such mixes: The more common one has a regular fade at the end but a rarer one features singer Steve Winwood’s chatter just before the fade. This is that latter, which is why it's included here.

The less-rare stereo mix without the talking appears on the Traffic Gold greatest hits CD and that’s not hard to find. But the rare one that has Steve Winwood, saying “That’s the one” at the very end was only included on an out-of-print CD from 1991 called Smiling Phases. This “talking version” has now become a rarity.

Addendum: If you plan on investing in either the U.S. or UK reissues of Traffic’s debut CD with the bonus tracks, you should know that neither edition has a full-length stereo version without the talking. The U.S. release, titled Heaven Is In Your Mind, has the stereo “Paper Sun,” but it's split into two sections, with the second titled “We’re A Fade, You Missed This.” On the UK album Mr. Fantasy, the full-length mix without the talking appears, but it’s a mono single mix.

2. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (Original 45 Mono Mix With Fade-In)
This is another mix that seems to have made it only to CD on the Smiling Phases CD. It’s the original mono single mix of Traffic’s Nov. 1967 single -- replete with the fade-in. Why is that unique? Because the mono mix that was added as a bonus track to the Mr. Fantasy CD doesn’t fade in, but instead starts when the vocal starts. (To make matters more confusing, the stereo mix added as a bonus cut on the Heaven Is In Your Mind CD does fade in -- but it’s a stereo mix, not the original mono single mix.)

3. Medicated Goo (Mono UK Single Mix)
The mix of this Nov. 1968 single has a different edit starting at the 2:27 mark. At that point, the single comes to a dead stop and then goes into a final chorus. The album mix goes into a percussion break there, and then there’s a short sax solo followed by a short guitar solo. The 45 mix also fades out quicker and runs slightly faster than the version on the Last Exit album.

4. Shanghai Noodle Factory (Mono UK Single Mix)
This was the B-Side to “Medicated Goo” and like that single mix, this one also runs slightly faster than the Last Exit version. It’s also a different, dedicated mono mix. It features more of Chris Wood’s flute, especially on the first break (at 0:57) and during the verses. The vocal harmonies also sound different, with Winwood’s lower register harmony more pronounced. The drum track is also more accentuated, especially the hi-hat.

5. Empty Pages (Stereo US Single Mix)
This unique stereo mix/edit has the instruments placed differently in the stereo field than in more familiar version from the John Barleycorn Must Die album. It also omits the final 30 seconds of the keyboard solo that comes up halfway through the song. Oddly, it also adds (yes, adds) and additional few seconds between the introduction and the entrance of the vocal. Guess they chopped off part of that intro when editing for the LP and for some reason decided to leave it in here.

All of this was done for the U.S. market and the effort was not wasted. The July 1970 release became Traffic’s second single to crack the Hot 100 in the U.S., getting to #74 (“Feelin’ Alright?” had Bubbled Under at #123 in 1968). The flip side was “Stranger To Himself” and it’s the exact same mix from John Barleycorn Must Die, so it’s not included here.

6. Gimme Some Lovin’ Part One
This live version of “Gimme Some Lovin’” runs a full nine minutes on the 1971 album Welcome To The Canteen. For the single, which came out in October of that year, they split the song into two parts, which was the custom back then. But how did they do it?

For the A-Side, they lopped off about a minute of the introduction. After the second chorus, they cut out about fifteen second of guitar riffing and went straight into the organ solo, which is what it fades on. And here’s a bit of trivia for you: This was the highest charting of all Traffic’s four singles that made the Billboard chart. It got to #68.

7. Gimme Some Lovin’ Part Two
The second part fades in from the LP version’s 4:52 mark and is the same from there on in. By the way, if you’re wondering how I made all these “album vs. 45” comparisons (including the one that’s gonna follow below), I did it by utilizing a sound editing program. I lined up the WAV files on top of each other and synced them up as best I could, panning the album tracks to the left and the 45 tracks to the right. Then I listened (and watched) where they diverged.

8. Rock & Roll Stew...Part 1
This gets confusing, so read carefully. To get to what this single is all about, we first have to examine the two different edits of this song that have come out on CD.

The original “Rock & Roll Stew,” which was on the 1971 LP The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, ran 4:25. A longer version was added as a bonus track to the CD edition of that album and it runs 6:09 (and is subtitled “Parts 1 and 2”). Both of these versions are from the same recording (despite what Wikipedia claims), but they’re edited different and each one contains elements specific to it.

The edit point where the two tracks diverge is at 1:47. At that point, the shorter version goes into a guitar solo that’s not included on the longer version (which goes directly into the second verse). But the longer version has a much longer fade which obviously isn’t part of the short version.

That brings us to the actual 45 single, which is what we have here. As the subtitle “Parts 1 and 2” suggests, it’s culled from the longer 6:09 edit. It’s faded on the A-Side near the middle at the guitar solo (at 3:24) then faded back in for the B-Side at that point. Not exactly revelatory, but if you ever wondered “Where did they break it between sides?” now you know. It hit #93 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in Feb. 1972.

9. Rock & Roll Stew...Part 2
See Track 8.

10. Walking In The Wind (Stereo Single Edit)
The single mix of this track from the original (pre-reunion) Traffic’s swan song, When The Eagle Flies, isn’t a complicated edit. It runs almost seven minutes on the LP, and they fade it out early here, at 4:35. Oddly, the single edit contains the 18-second fade-in, replete with the wind sound effect. Had I been doing the editing, I’d have edited most of that out and gotten to the vocal quicker. But I didn’t do the editing so this intro, in my opinion, is a bit meandering for a single. This Oct. 1974 release was Traffic’s final single before the band split up. It didn’t chart in the U.S.

11. Walking In The Wind - Instrumental
This is the B-Side to the above stereo single edit. Its title might make you think it’s an instrumental mix of the whole song, which would have been cool. But, alas, it’s just the final 2:20 from the album version, which is an instrumental section. Hence the title.

12. Walking In The Wind - Short Version Mono
The mono mix of the short edit was only made available on the promo copy of the single. This is the same edit that’s on the stereo single except, obviously, in mono. The other side of this single contains the familiar album version in stereo, so it’s not included here. I’m using the term “other side” here to avoid using the phrases “A-Side” and “B-Side.” That’s because there is no B-Side. This promo single was put out as a double A-Side. The serial number on each side is E-45207-A.

Bonus tracks:

13. I Just Want You to Know (Demo)
This was a bonus track from the 1999 reissue of John Barleycorn Must Die. That one-disc reissue has now been superseded by the “Deluxe Edition,” a two-disc set from 2011. But the newer set omits four bonuus tracks from the 1999 release. This is the first. It’s a Steve Winwood demo where he’s on all instruments. Apparently, Winwood didn’t want this out, which is why it’s been rescinded.

14. Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ of My Love (Demo)
Same history as Track 13.

15. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring (Live at the Fillmore East, Nov. 18, 1970)
This live cut, from the 1999 edition of the John Barleycorn reissue, isn’t the same one included on the two-disc on the 2011 two-disc set. The one on that set was recorded at the Fillmore East Nov. 19. Since Traffic played that venue for two night and this recording is different, it’s safe to assume this one was from the previous night, Nov. 18.

16. Glad (Live at the Fillmore East, Nov. 18, 1970)
Same history as Track 15.

Track list:
1. Paper Sun (Full-Length Stereo Version With Talking At The End)
2. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (Mono Mix With Fade-In)
3. Medicated Goo (Mono UK Single Mix)
4. Shanghai Noodle Factory (Mono UK Single Mix)
5. Empty Pages (Stereo US Single Mix)
6. Gimme Some Lovin’ Part One
7. Gimme Some Lovin’ Part Two
8. Rock & Roll Stew...Part 1
9. Rock & Roll Stew...Part 2
10. Walking In The Wind - Short Version Mono
11. Walking In The Wind (Stereo Single Edit)
12. Walking In The Wind - Instrumental
Bonus tracks:
13. I Just Want You to Know (Demo)
14. Sittin’ Here Thinkin’ of My Love (Demo)
15. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring (Live at the Fillmore East, Nov. 18, 1970)
16. Glad (Live at the Fillmore East, Nov. 18, 1970)

7 comments:

  1. http://www106.zippyshare.com/v/0LBXUBgQ/file.html

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  2. Strange, weird, wonderfully obscure. So many thanks, Miles! The Chairman

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanx much!
    imnokid

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  4. ON ISLANDS "STRANGELY STRANGE BUT ODDLY NORMAL " CD SET THERE,S AN
    ALTERNATE VERSION OF "FEELIN' ALRIGHT" RARE VERSION . DEREK

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the share and the great information.


    Regards

    Rhodb

    ReplyDelete