[Review] Traffic: Last Exit (1969)

A catch-all compilation to meet contractual obligations.

Kronomyth 3.0: Exit tu, Brute?

Well, that was a short ride. Two years after launching Traffic, Steve Winwood had dissolved the whole thing and left it to the labels to pick up (and pick out) the pieces. Last Exit is the first of several compilations intended to honor the band’s remaining contractual obligations. Okay, “honor” probably isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean, especially if you’ve already travelled this road with Cream.

Produced by Jimmy Miller (who takes cowriting credits on three tracks), the album is split between studio material (most of it already released on singles) and live performances from a 1968 concert at the Fillmore West. The recent single “Medicated Goo” b/w “Shanghai Noodle Factory” is handily the highlight of the album. A couple of earlier B sides (“Just For You,” “Withering Tree”) and an unreleased instrumental round out the first side of music. The two live songs, recorded without Dave Mason, are interesting from an historical perspective, but no one has ever confused the band with Cream on stage.

On its release, Last Exit sold respectably, although I’m sure most listeners felt cheated afterwards. Thirty years on, Island tacked the better bits (Goo, Noodle, Tree) onto their expanded remaster of the band’s eponymous second album, and that would seem the smarter route to take today. In fact, I don’t see any reason to ride out the next few Traffic albums. Take a break, have a smoke and just make sure you’re back in time for Barleycorn.

Original elpee version

A1. Just For You (Dave Mason) (2:24)
A2. Shanghai Noodle Factory (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Larry Fallon/Jimmy Miller/Dave Mason) (5:04)
A3. Something’s Got A Hold of My Toe (Steve Winwood/Dave Mason/Jimmy Miller) (2:14)
A4. Withering Tree (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi) (3:10)
A5. Medicated Goo (Steve Winwood/Jimmy Miller) (3:36)
B1. Feelin’ Good (live) (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley) (10:50)
B2. Blind Man (live) (Deadric Malone/Joe Scott) (7:10)

The Players

Jim Capaldi (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Steve Winwood (organ, lead vocals, piano, bass, guitar), Chris Wood (flute, saxophone, organ) with Dave Mason (guitar on A1/A3, lead vocals on A1). Produced by Jimmy Miller.

The Pictures

US album art direction by Mike Sida and Guy Stevens. Photography by Ray Ross, Richard Polak and Francine Winham.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in May 1969 in the UK (Island, ILPS 9097), the US (United Artists, UAS 6702), Australia (Festival, SFL 933.362), Germany (Island, 203 474) and Japan (Fontana, FOX 7005). Reached #19 on the US charts. The original UK and Australian elpee releases feature a gatefold cover; the original US release features a different cover and is not a gatefold.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the 1970s in Germany (Island, 88 065ET).
  2. Re-issued on elpee and compact disc in 1988 in the US (Island, 90925).
  3. Re-released on remastered elpee, cassette and compact disc worldwide (Island,  842 787).
  4. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2000 in Japan (Island, UICY-9272).
  5. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on February 27, 2011 in the US (Island, 548 540).

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