Traffic left behind precious few concert videos in any form, so this show, from the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, is an intrinsically valuable document of the band, even though it does feature a later lineup: Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood, Rebop Kwakubaah, Roger Hawkins, and David Hood. Chronologically, the show comes roughly a year later than the Welcome to the Canteen album. At 65 minutes running time, they include "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys," "John Barleycorn," "Rainmaker," "Glad," "Freedom Rider," "Forty Thousand Headmen," and "Dear Mr. Fantasy," all of which are worthwhile although also curiously lacking in the urgency that one would hope for in a concert performance. There are some many wonderful shots of the band members from varied angles and all kinds of different lighting, even within the same song, courtesy of video producer Taylor Hackford (White Nights, Against All Odds) but, in fact, this wasn't the ideal version of the group to capture on stage: Winwood had suffered a serious illness the year before, the group was always in a state of flux as far as its line-up was concerned, and they were entering the period of decline that would coincide with the recording of Shootout at the Fantasy Factory. The musicianship is there, found intact in the thick electric guitar textures of "Light Up or Leave Me," Winwood's acoustic guitar performance on "John Barleycorn," and Wood's spotlighted flute and sax work on "Rainmaker." But one also gets the sense that a lot of excitement was disappearing for the players, apart from Rebop Kwaku Baah, in what Winwood later described as a grind of touring and recording. It's not a bad video, and well worth tracking down as a document of the group; the sound is very good (especially for the period in which it was recorded), and it would make a good DVD, but one wishes a full-length video of a show from perhaps a year, or two, or three earlier could have found its way into existence. Originally available through RCA Columbia, but packaged by Pacific Arts, this long out of print video was apparently owned by Island Records, and may have reverted to them, which means that it is now somewhere in MCA's vast holdings of the Polygram Records conglomerate (which bought Island); finding a used copy or getting someone to dub off the laser disc might be easier than waiting for it to be rediscovered by its current owners.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder