Dave Mason

Live: The 40,000 Headmen Tour

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Little more than an authorized bootleg right down to its grainy cover and raw (but not unprofessional) sound, this captures the two Traffic founders on some dates from their three-month 1998 U.S. tour. Dave Mason receives the bulk of the attention, reprising five of his solo hits (four grabbed from his debut Alone Together disc) in reasonably spry but far-from-definitive versions. He's backed by Capaldi on drums and percussion -- who checks in with only one solo track, the snoozy "Love Will Keep Us Alive" -- and sturdy yet unspectacular hired hands bolstering the sound on keyboards and bass. Mason's ever-popular "Feelin' Alright?" gets yet another run-through, as do Traffic classics "Pearly Queen" and "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys," the latter in a stripped-down folk arrangement that brings it closer to "John Barleycorn" territory. Mason pays tribute to John Lennon in the form of a snippet of "Dear Prudence" during "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" and does a serviceable job on a rollicking version of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Deceased Traffic flute/woodwind player Chris Wood is memorialized in a brief sentence leading into the title track, but Steve Winwood's voice is sorely missed on a set-closing "Dear Mr. Fantasy" that lacks the psychedelic mystery of the original. Recorded direct to DAT with no overdubs, the sound is dry for a live show and the echoey between-song patter is practically unintelligible. It's a reasonable souvenir of the show for those who were there, but since all of these songs are available in superior versions elsewhere, there's scant reason for any but the most fanatical Traffic lover to add this to their collection.

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