Traffic: Mr. Fantasy (1967)

This a treasure chest of psychedelic gems, produced with gleeful abandon by Jimmy Miller, with whom Winwood had worked in Spencer Davis. The material is startlingly fresh and varied, featuring psychedelic confections from Dave Mason (“House For Everyone”) and the rest of the band (“Berkshire Poppies,” “Coloured Rain”) alongside deeper numbers done in a progressive folk/blues vein (“Dear Mr. Fantasy”). The album begins with an opening trio of songs that pull nearly every possible trick from its pockets; false starts, madhouse choruses and more instruments than four people could reasonably account for are artfully combined in the pressure cooker of Jimmy Miller’s imagination while the screws are (quite literally) turned on the listener. And turned on they were. Mr. Fantasy is an album that needs to be experienced to be appreciated. How else to describe how “No Face, No Name And No Number” arrives like an oasis of sanity unless you’ve just come from “House For Everyone” and “Berkshire Poppies?” Of course, that experience depends on which version of Mr. Fantasy you own. There is the UK mono version, the UK stereo version, the US stereo version (originally released as Heaven Is In Your Mind and featuring different tracks) and the sundry repackages since then. (I would point you in the direction of the UK stereo version for starters.) This and their next album are high points in the British psychedelic movement and, together with Cream’s Disraeli Gears, provided a technicolor exclamation point at the end of 1967. Of course, the previous singles “Paper Sun” and “Hole In My Shoe” prepared you for some of this, but the emotional profundity of “No Face” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy” revealed a new dimension of the band that would be highly influential for artists like Jethro Tull.

Original UK LP Version
A1. Heaven Is In Your Mind (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Chris Wood) (4:16)
A2. Berkshire Poppies (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Chris Wood) (2:55)
A3. House For Everyone (Dave Mason) (2:02)
A4. No Face, No Name And No Number (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi) (3:31)
A5. Dear Mr. Fantasy (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Chris Wood) (5:39)
B1. Dealer (Jim Capaldi) (3:10)
B2. Utterly Simple (Dave Mason) (3:17)
B3. Coloured Rain (Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi/Chris Wood) (2:41)
B4. Hope I Never Find Me There (Dave Mason) (2:06)
B5. Giving To You (Chris Wood/Dave Mason/Steve Winwood/Jim Capaldi) (4:17)

1967.12 / Island / UK / LP / ILP-9061 / mono version
1967.12 / Island / UK / LP / ILPS-9061 / stereo version
1967 / Island / France / LP / 6313 347
1971 / Island / Germany / LP / 85784IT
Xxx / Island / Japan / LP / ILS-80277 / gatefold cover
1980s / Sung Eum  / Korea / LP / SEL-RI2057
1987.02 / Island / UK / CD / ILPM-9061
Xxx / Island / US / CD / 842 783-2
1993 / Mobile Fidelity / US / CD / UDCD-572 / original master recording
1999 / Island / UK / CD / IMCD-264 / digital remaster
1999 / Simply Vinyl / UK / LP / SVLP-099 / virgin vinyl
1999 / Polygram Intl / Germany / CDx / 546 496 / digital remaster, stereo + mono mixes
1999 / Island / Japan / CDx / UICY-6233 / digital remaster, UK stereo + US mono mixes

Original US LP Version – 1968
A1. Paper Sun
A2. Dealer
A3. Coloured Rain
A4. Hole In My Shoe
A5. No Face, No Name And No Number
A6. Heaven Is In Your Mind
B1. House For Everyone
B2. Berkshire Poppies
B3. Giving To You
B4. Smiling Phases
B5. Dear Mr. Fantasy
B6. We’re A Fade, You Missed This

1968 / United Artists / US / LP / UAS 6651 / stereo version, red&black label
xxx / United Artists / US / LP / UAS 6651 / stereo version, off-white label
1977 / United Artists / US / LP / UAS 6651 / stereo, cloud label
1980s / Island / US / LP / 90060-1

The Players
Jim Capaldi (drums, percussion and vocals), Dave Mason (guitar, mellotron, sitar, tambura, shakkai, bass guitar and vocals), Steve Winwood (organ, guitar, bass guitar, piano, harpsishord, percusion, vocals, arrangements), Chris Wood (flute, saxophone, organ, percussion and vocals). Produced by Jimmy Miller; engineered by Eddie Kramer.

The Pictures
Photography by John Benton Harris. Sleeve design by Chris Wood and CCS Advertising Associates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *