Traffic

Far from Home

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It could be argued that, in its most basic form, Traffic was a vehicle for the songs of Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, who wrote most of the material and on some tracks were the only musicians performing. But the question of whether Winwood and Capaldi could validly constitute Traffic by themselves was not addressed until 1994, 20 years after the group disbanded, when the two surprisingly announced they would be recording and touring under their old band name. The album they made together sounded for the most part like a Winwood solo album. He played most of the instruments and sang (Capaldi drummed and sang occasional backup vocals), and he didn't show much interest in the lengthy instrumental passages that characterized Traffic in its heyday. Winwood, the composer, had simply moved on from that old style, and since the new Traffic wasn't a band in any real sense, its sound reflected his contemporary concerns. But if you listened to the lyrics, written by Capaldi, you did hear traces of the old Traffic. Granted, lyrics were not among Traffic's strong suits, but Capaldi, in his sometimes roundabout way, did have certain continuing concerns -- a generalized sense of spirituality, a tendency to give advice, and a rejection of the negative aspects of modern society. Winwood may have wished to return to music of greater substance, and if so, he got what he wanted; Far from Home certainly explored weightier topics than a Steve Winwood album. But Capaldi hadn't really improved as a writer over the years, and the final product still worked better musically than lyrically, and, to most ears, didn't really sound like a Traffic album. The resulting confusion kept the album from having much commercial impact.

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