Traffic - On The Road
One day in the sixth grade, I knowingly erased my name off the "bad boy" list on the
blackboard, and then claimed with all the pureness and conviction of my heart, that it had never
been written up in the first place. You're damn straight it was illegal. Welcome to my
I like synthesizer rock. Despite the intense scoffing some people throw at them, electric
keyboards have the incredible power to break me out of any forlorn disenchantment, and whisk my
capitulated soul into a land of ease and clear thought. With the pulsing sound of power behind me,
I can easily punch a hole through the cement wall at the top of a ten story building, and then jump
through the opening and land on my feet. ON THE ROAD, the live 1973 release by TRAFFIC, piles up
the synthesizer as though it was forming a hill to rival Everest.
Although the synthesizer may fuel me to smash concrete, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm
going to. ON THE ROAD's first three songs exhibit some confident and smooth flowing jam sessions,
which seem to be the perfect background music to spin while cooking breakfast in the late morning.
Track 3's "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired" is the jewel of the bunch, wonderfully not leaving you
depressed in light of frontman Steve Winwood's apparent peril. He begins the song barely able to
completely finish individual words, but by the end the guitar does most of the enunciation anyway,
and practically teaches him to speak.
By the time ON THE ROAD reaches the final three tracks, the album demands that the body
call to action and work off its abundance of built up energy. The perfect situation would be to
bring the boombox out to the driveway, set the volume just high enough to get the neighbors stuck
in the groove, turn on the hose, and start to wash the car. Song number 5 will start just about
the time that you break out the sponge, and you won't be sorry. As the record's most spectacular
composition, "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" definitely sucks you in, and just might make you scream.
The keyboard and guitar provide a rare feeling of invincibility, and guarantee in your own mind
that anyone passing by on the street will think you're doing a hell of a job on the tire rims.
Liking a Steve Winwood project is akin to the kind of low-consequence guilty pleasure
associated with spraying the whipped cream directly from the can into your mouth. There's nothing
wrong with it at all, but something about the idea is still creepy and incorrect and sinister.
Much in the same way that I concede to enjoying "Redi-Whip" in the manner already outlined, I will
also admit to seriously enjoying Winwood's ridiculed 1987 hit "Back in the High Life Again" after
two pots of coffee or a lengthy work shift.
With ON THE ROAD, TRAFFIC didn't make an entirely perfect album. The first minute or so
of the first song almost makes you turn the whole thing off and put it away. However, for every
questionable stanza, there is one that makes up for it. With a track-length average of roughly 12
minutes, ON THE ROAD keeps the energy alive, plentiful, and powerful.
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