Friday, July 19, 2013

Traffic 3: Last Exit

Despite a lot of activity in a short time, Traffic was suddenly no more—Dave Mason left again, followed by Steve Winwood, who was already on his way to another project. Last Exit provided an odd collection of leftovers under a half-baked title. (The US/UK differences returned again, with a different front cover depending on the country. The same photo of Winwood eating an apple was used for all back covers, along with an admittedly clever depiction of their now “broken” logo.)
The clear highlights are “Shanghai Noodle Factory” and “Medicated Goo”, both sides of the same single, with excellent guitar work by Winwood. Both are funky in their own ways, if a little nonsensical. “Withering Tree” has a nice autumnal quality in their folk mode. “Just For You” was a B-side from a Dave Mason solo single the rest of the band played on, and “Something’s Got A Hold Of My Toe”, excellent title aside, appears to be an unfinished jam.
However, side two doesn’t catch fire, consisting of two lengthy covers, recorded live, that give Chris Wood a chance to wander, and Steve to wail in his R&B voice. The organ/woodwinds/drums combo has its moments, coming off more jazzy than ever, but they aren’t well represented here.
Clearly a grasp for profits from the record label, Last Exit has remained in print, though its best songs (mentioned above) can be found on any number of compilations. In other words, it can be overlooked.

Traffic Last Exit (1969)—

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