Mr. Fantasy
Produced by Jimmy Miller
Released on December 1967
UK CHART POSITION #8
Find it at GEMM
cover  

T his retrospective review is not just about a band whom I really liked, but about a band of which I knew two of its members at least by sight, namely Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi, as they were then lead guitarist and drummer respectively of “The Hellions.” For anyone in and around the Worcester area as I used to be in the days of “The Hellions”, it was clear to see that Dave Mason was destined for something more than just a local band. It was in fact Dave Mason who introduced me to the music of Bob Dylan, totally unknown to himself of course. He was listening to a Dylan album one day (and singing along with it needless to say) in Worcester's then music shop, which used to be Wilsons, very close to the main city bridge over the River Severn in Bridge Street, when I happened to be in there browsing through the record collection myself. And so I was not that surprised, when I discovered that both Dave and Jim Capaldi had somehow met up with Steve Winwood and with Chris Wood to form the band that became “Traffic.” What a brilliant band! The album was certainly an excellent debut album although they did of course benefit from the already considerable experience of Steve Winwood as a result of his time in the Spencer Davis Group. It is also an album packed with humour. It opens with "Heaven Is In Your Mind”, a song with a strong 2/4 time signature feel to it and with a chunky double beat start on the bass, and a sort of “barrelhouse” style of piano playing. The next track, “Berkshire Poppies”, composed by Winwood, Capaldi and Wood, is a bawdy three beat per bar song with honky tonk piano and absolutely packed with humour, send-ups, vocal imitations and asides, and comes complete with definitely bawdy accents. The following track, “House for everyone” is another humorous song, but this time written by Dave Mason.. It has a strong saxophone hook riff to it. I couldn't help wondering what Dave had been on prior to writing it, but it does actually have a serious undertone concerning truth and lies, right and wrong. Track number 4 is probably my all-time favourite song by Traffic. It moves the album from the almost ridiculous previous three tracks into the sublimely beautiful “No Name, No Face and No Number”. It contains some beautiful flute arpeggios by Chris Wood, and some well executed fingerstyle guitar. In my opinion, the album would be worth buying for this track alone. Next follows “Mr Fantasy”, the track from which the album takes its title. Steve again takes lead vocals as he did on “No Name, No Face and No Number.” It has riffs which absolutely shout the influence of Jimi Hendrix, and some really naff bass playing! At over five and a half minutes it is also quite a long track. The next track is “Dealer”, a song written by Jim Capaldi, with a driving and insistent beat. Its starts with a flute opening, and then tears into the words of the song (about a man whose only love is money.) It contains some excellent flute work by Chris Wood. Track seven, “Utterly Simple”, written and sung by Dave Mason, was used in the film “Here we go round the Mulberry Bush.” (“Traffic also had another three tracks in this film, none of which are on “Mr Fantasy”) This is another three beat per bar song, a nice little song that makes full use of Dave's ability to not just play guitar but to play sitar and various other similar instruments as well, and some more nice flute work form Chris Wood. I really like the sitar ending to the song “Coloured Rain” follows. It is a good reminder to us that we where still very much in the psychedelic era at the time that the album was released. Sung by Steve, it is a relatively mediocre song, Not one of their better ones anyway. Organ is very much to the forefront on this track, with Chris on sax. “Hope I never Find Me There” is another song written and sung by Dave Mason. It must surely be some sort of psychedelic dream! It is very “Sargeant Pepper”; very reminiscent of “A Day In The Life” in places, which is hardly surprising perhaps as it had been released in June 1967, just five months earlier than “Mr Fantasy”. The final track “Giving To You” is essentially an instrumental showcase for Steve Winwood and Chris Wood. Listed as being composed by all four band members, it sounds like, and perhaps was, a jam session. In summary, a good, if somewhat humorous first album. It would later be followed by the album “Traffic” which was even better. -- Claire Rosemary Jane

booklet gatefold booklet back cover
booklet gatefold booklet back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. HEAVEN IS IN YOUR MIND    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Chris Wood)    4:16
  2. BERKSHIRE POPPIES    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Chris Wood)    2:55
  3. HOUSE FOR EVERYONE    (Dave Mason)    2:02
  4. NO FACE, NO NAME AND NO NUMBER    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi)    3:31
  5. DEAR MR. FANTASY    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Chris Wood)    5:39
  6. DEALER    (Jim Capaldi)    3:10
  7. UTTERLY SIMPLE    (Dave Mason)    3:17
  8. COLOURED RAIN    (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Chris Wood)    2.41
  9. HOPE I NEVER FIND ME THERE    (Dave Mason)    2.06
  10. GIVING TO YOU    (Chris Wood/Dave Mason/Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi)    4.17

CREDITS

JIM CAPALDI -- Drums, Percussion and Vocals
DAVE MASON -- Guitar, Mellotron, Sitar, Tambura, Shakkai, Bass Guitar and Vocals
STEVE WINWOOD -- Organ, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Piano, Harpsichord, Percussion and Vocals, arrangements
CHRIS WOOD -- Flute, Saxophone, Organ, Percussion and Vocals, sleeve design
Eddie Kramer -- engineer
John Benton Harris -- photography
CCS Advertising Associates -- sleeve design

return to TRAFFIC discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK December 1967 Island LPmono/LPstereo ILP 961/ILPS 9061  
GER 1971 Island LP 85784IT  
KOR 1980s Sung Eum LP SEL-RI2057  
UK 1999 Simply Vinyl LP SVLP 099 virgin vinyl
GER 1999 Polygram Int'l CDX 546 496 dgital remaster w. mono version
  1999 Polygram Int'l CDX 551 142 w. mono version of
HEAVEN IS IN YOUR MIND
UK 1999 Island CD IMCD 264 digital remaster
US August 29, 2000 Polygram CDX 542 823 mono version digital remaster
w. bonus tracks

 

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