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Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1

Despite not even charting in the band's native England, this album became a platinum-selling American hit on the basis of three enduring FM radio staples--the expansive, jazzy impressionism of the near-12 minute title trac...  more »


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All Artists: Traffic
Title: Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Island
Original Release Date: 1/1/1971
Re-Release Date: 3/19/2002
Album Type: Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Progressive, Progressive Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Album-Oriented Rock (AOR)
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 731454882729, 0731454882729, 4988005339508

Despite not even charting in the band's native England, this album became a platinum-selling American hit on the basis of three enduring FM radio staples--the expansive, jazzy impressionism of the near-12 minute title track, and the more straightforward funk of the R&B charmers "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" and "Rock & Roll Stew." Those disparate tracks perfectly underscore Traffic's rich musical appeal and its restless, sometimes problematic creative and interpersonal relationships. With now thrice-departed Dave Mason out of the mix and percussionists Jim Gordon and Reebop Kwaku Baah participating in the studio for the first time, the band's innate musicality truly takes wing. Winwood's familiar vocal phrasings nearly take a backseat to his fluid, dramatic guitar work on "Rock & Roll Stew Roll" and "Many a Mile to Freedom," while the Tull-ish, folk-madrigal sensibilities of "Hidden Treasure" and "Rainmaker" are further punctuated by Chris Wood's deft flute and woodwind flourishes. Compared with the more organic John Barleycorn album, the contrast is all the more remarkable. While many contemporary bands were experimenting with various attempts at fusion, few achieved this collection's rock-jazz-folk-R&B range or level of often subtle sophistication. Digitally remastered, this edition also contains the six-minute-plus U.S. single version of "Rock & Roll Stew, Parts 1 & 2" as a bonus track. --Jerry McCulley

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Utopian flashback/flashforward
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 09/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"LOW SPARK was Traffic's best album, and one of the best of the whole great '65-'75 period. I know there are those partial to JOHN BARLEYCORN, but it's not as consistent. What you have here is perhaps the most purely realized expression of the counterculture's dream -- a glimpse of utopia, through the haze, at twilight, or late at night...

"Hidden Treasure" is the gateway, complete with mystical flute from Chris Wood. The brilliant title track is the first vision, and it ruled the underground airwaves for months with piano and spacey organ! There's an element of tension with the mainstream -- "the man in the suit has just bought a new car with the profit he's made on your dreams" -- but the Man loses! He's done in by "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys," the power of the dreamers, who are building a new world in the ruins of the old. The other two visionary tracks are "Many a Mile to Freedom," with ringing guitar ("together we flow like the river -- and together we melt like the snow") and "Rainmaker" with a long instrumental coda, and all four are by the Winwood/Capaldi songwriting team. The drummer and bass player actually team up for a fine funky number, "Rock & Roll Stew," with Winwood on wicked guitar and the refrain "I'm gone, gone, gone!" Capaldi's "Light Up" got lots of airplay, and it's a great song, but it doesn't really fit in the album -- I often program it first, or out, so as not to disrupt the flow.

I find it hard to imagine exactly what a young person hears in LOW SPARK nowadays, hearing it for the first time. For me, it takes me back to 1971/72, and through that door to an alternative and much better future! "Spirit is something that no one destroys..." The dream lives on...

Would Make a Great Chapter in a Classic Rock Bible.
Lovely to See You | Out There Somewhere | 06/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If only there was one! This 1971 release from Traffic does everything right without ever once becoming overbearingly heavy. From the very first track, "Hidden Treasure" which is driven by Chris Wood's winsome flute and Steve Winwood's plaintive wail, you know you're in for something extraordinary.

And extraordinary it is! The title track is nearly twelve minutes of a blissful cool jazz/rock jam with just enough hipness to keep anyone listening to it from looking like a total coffee house beatnik. "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" is the late Jim Capaldi's excellent bluesy rocker with catchy pop riffs and some great keyboard fills, while "Rock 'n' Roll Stew" is one of the best pure rave rockers ever written and laid down in a studio. It stands as one of my two favorite staples on this classic album. My absolute favorite would be "Many a Mile to Freedom," which has a sweetness and vulnerability all its own without ever catering to whimpiness. "Rainmaker" is my least favorite track, but it's still a good one, and a vital part of the whole enchilada.

LSOHHB is an album you should have in your collection if you are a fan of great classic rock. With a mixture of jazz, blues, soul, and pop influences, it's as potent as a molotave cocktail without the nasty explosion, and there's no bitter aftertaste. Now that's what I call a rock 'n' roll stew."
A Time to Soar
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First released in November 1971: "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" is the Most Popular Release by this Great Band. The Nucleus of: Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi & Chris Wood are here with assistance from Ric Grech, Jim Gordon & Reebop Kwaku Baah. The opening cut: "Hidden Treasure", is a Acoustic gem with the Flutes of Chris Wood, gliding over Steve's, Heartfelt Vocals. "Treasure" is an Amazing Tune that crosses Lines between Folk & Jazz, it sounds Much Better on this Re-Master, the Bass is More Fully Defined than the LP. The Title Cut, might be the Best Merger of Rock & Jazz, featured on ANY Record. The Piano explores many moods, and the Percussion & Sax, just seem to Fly here, this is an Mature piece of music that got the Most attention on FM Radio of all the tracks on this Record, and it deserves the Praise it has Gotten of the Years.

"Light Up" is Jim Calpaldi's, Showcase and it is the closest thing here to R & B. Jim's, in Fine Voice here and this was Popular in Dance Clubs in the UK, back in the 80's (In a much Longer Mix). "Rock N' Roll Stew" was a Single ( And the Full Single version is a Bonus Track, with the seldom heard Part 2 included ). Again, this One has Jim on Vocals and is considered the "Rock Number" of the Bunch it's Punchy & Good. "Many a Mile To Freedom" is almost a return to the Band's sound of 67-69, gentle guitars and Chris Wood's Flutes set the tone, and Steve shines again on an Fantastic Vocal here. "Rainmaker" wraps things up, and like the opener: "Treasure", this Great Record, closes out the way it Began with Folk & a Touch of Jazz and Lot's of Style. To List the Best Records of the 70's: "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" would be in the Top 20...One of the Greats...Re-Mixed, and sounding better...Five Stars !!!"