From the Vault...


"Mr. Fantasy"

© Island Records

Year of Release: 1968

track listing
  • Heaven Is In Your Mind
  • Berkshire Poppies
  • House For Everyone
  • No Face No Name And
    No Number
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy
  • Dealer
  • Utterly Simple
  • Coloured Rain
  • Hope I Never
    Find Me There
  • Giving To You

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    "Mr. Fantasy"

    Traffic marks their second appearance on WSVNRadio, with their debut release, Mr. Fantasy. "Dear Mr. Fantasy" would be the standout hit, yet the rest of this album captures psychedelia in a unique way. The first track, "Heaven Is In Your Mind" has an off-Grateful Dead-ish psych rock feel. The next two tracks definie a different kind of the usual psychedelia: On "Berkshire Poppies," Steve Winwood's voice almost matches that of Graham Nash when he was singing with the Hollies. "House For Everyone" is far different, almost sounding Frank Zappa-ish, and maybe an off-Sgt. Pepper sound.

    Steve Winwood's voice comes into play as we would hear him in later years with Traffic, even with Blind Faith, "No Face, No Name And No Number" is mellow, yet it's a beautiful song. "Dealer" has the early Moody Blues meeting the mellow style of Eric Clapton and Cream. Off-Sgt. Pepper's style has "Utterly Simple," especially hearing the sitar instrument that George Harrison used in the later years of Beatle songs. "Coloured Rain" has Winwood's voice rough-edged, yet its another psychedelic tune. Psychedelic Britsh Rock as in the early years of Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett is heard on "Hope I Never Find Me Here." The last track is definitely different, yet psychedelic, novelty in its beginnings with the rambling talk (which returns at the very end). This is something "psychedlic weird" as Frank Zappa would record in his early years.'s Mike McGonigal overall review states it best: It's a rather druggy record, Traffic's debut; in fact, decades later, it's still possible to get a decent contact high off of it. From the stuttering, lyrically ponderous "Heaven Is in Your Mind" to the awe-inspiring psychedelic soul of "Dear Mr. Fantasy," this is Traffic's most reverb-saturated and elliptical release. This debut was reissued in the year 2000 with bonus tracks (included was "Paper Sun" -- a song that I don't recall, as I had to go to YouTube to listen to it, thinking that I would remember.) Although "Dear Mr. Fantasy" I do vividly remember, this song is the standout track on this release for me.

    Mike McGonigal continues: Dave Mason-era Traffic was nothing if not eclectic. On Mr. Fantasy, they mix and match the art-prog of Caravan and the goofy psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper's with the mellow groove of Procol Harum, the jazz-blues fusion of Graham Bond with the blues-rock of Cream. All that and sitar, too--not to mention Stevie Winwood's riveting vocals. A sheen of silliness covers at least a third of the album; faux-frumpy songs like "House for Everyone" and "Berkshire Poppies" are not-very-witty vaudeville spoofs that are sung in stuffy British accents. I agree on the not-very-witty vaudeville spoofs on "House For Everyone" and "Berkshire Poppies" -- a different kind of psychedlic musical style, yet most of the late-1960s British Psychedlic Rock was a little weird for some for us Americans. (Yet some of the songs do reflect a little bit of a U.S. musician by the name of Frank Zappa.)

    Next to "Dear Mr. Fantasy," "No Face, No Name And No Number" captures Steve Winwood's voice to where many of his future fans would remember him best. Having the later Traffic albums The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys and Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory on vinyl when I was much younger, and enjoying the jazz-influenced John Barleycorn Must Die later on (although this album was chronologically released before Low Spark and Shoot Out); this is how I remembered Steve Winwood and Traffic best. Even his one-album band with Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, Winwood's voice compared to the two songs mentioned from the Mr. Fantasy album is best remembered for me. Winwood's solo career would even be much greater, with popular albums such as Arc Of A Diver, Back In The Highlife, and Roll With It. And being a fellow keyboarist/singer as myself, I truly remember his solo works while growing up.

    Traffic also surfaced three other musicians: Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason and Chris Wood. Mason would have a popular solo career, as his songs "We Just Disagree" and his version of Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix "All Along The Watchtower" were the standout hits that I remembered. Jim Capaldi may not have been as popular, but one song did stand out for me, "Living On The Edge" from his Fierce Heart album. Most of Mason's solo releases are found on CD, however not with Capaldi, as I am trying to find his Fierce Heart release on CD. Capaldi did release many solo albums before his death in 2005, of stomach cancer. The remaining member of Traffic was Chris Wood, a talented musician in his own right. Wood passed away of pneumonia in 1983.

    Mr. Fantasy is a unique psychedelic album. Many of the fellow late-1960s bands are heard (mostly British). "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is the true standout, and come to think of it, I can't recall hearing any of the popular songs of Traffic on Classic Rock FM stations (such as Chicago's WLS-FM; the True Oldies station and/or Chicago's WDRV The Drive). Most Traffic songs I hear on Chicago radio is on WXRT. Some of the Psychedlic British music maybe a bit hard to digest and get used to, yet its the popular song(s) from the albums we remember most.

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    Previous Review: #1189
    Don Moore--Axe Attack
    Next Review: #1191
    Luther Vandross--Dance With My Father