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Welcome To The Canteen

United Artists 5550
Released: September 1971
Chart Peak: #26
Weeks Charted: 19

Rick GrechChris WoodDave MasonJim CapaldiSteve WinwoodTraffic was probably named Traffic because the word went well with jam, which Traffic could and can. Here, the original Traffic plus three proe it for ten-and-a-half minutes with "Dear Mr. Fantasy." Then, the point made, they start sounding dogmatic and redundant on "Gimme Some Lovin," written by Steve Winwood when he was with the Spencer Davis Group. Dave Mason, who played sitar and bass for Traffic, is still no B. B. King with the guitar, which shows up when "Gimme" goes begging for some subtle ornamentation. The vocals are okay. I never could see raving about Winwood's voice -- it's his organ playing I think deserves raves.

Traffic, the first time it was formed, included Winwood, Mason, Jim Capaldi on drums, and Chris Wood on woodwinds. For this "live" recording, those four play with Jim Gordon, one of the best rock drummers (used to back the Mamas and the Papas, among others); Rick Grech, bass player with Family and then, along with Winwood, with Blind Faith; and "Reebop" Kwaku Baah, a not-so-exotic percussionist.

There are some terrific elements here: the balance of acoustic guitars and Wood's flute, the long blues lines of Winwood's organ, the extraordinary drumming of Gordon. The songs are better than average, although a bit on the used side. All in all, it's probably as good an album as these musicans could make.

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 2/72.

Bonus Reviews!

How you react to this album will probably have more than a little to do with just how much of an original Traffic freak you are. And if you loved the Spencer Davis Group during its mid-Sixties coming-to-be, then you may also have your reservations. Oh, all the right personnel are on hand -- Stevie Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Dave Mason and Chris Wood -- but it's pretty hard to improve on perfection. So it sounds strangely hollow to hear these four, buttressed by the addition of Rick Grech (Family, Blind Faith), Kwaku Baah and Jim Gordon, serving up still another helping of "Medicated Goo," "40,000 Headmen," "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Gimme Some Lovin'." The whole thing was recorded earlier this year at a live concert in Croydon and at the Oz Benefit Concert in London. Certainly the Oz fund could be considered a worthy cause, but since the profits from this record are going elsewhere, there's an element of rip-off to the proceedings. Still, if you're into nostalgia, or if you want to hear some fair to good live versions of what have already become rock classics, you might want to tune in on these tracks. But for the real thing, you still can't beat the originals!

- Circus, 1/72.

Former Traffic members get together for this live recording which shows off the tremendous instrumental and songwriting talents of the group. The band jams on a 14-minute "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and an extended version of the famous "Gimme Some Lovin'," Also included are Dave Mason songs, "Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave" and "Sad and Deep as You."

- Billboard, 1972.

Lax at times, but not bad for live jazziness -- Stevie Winwood and Dave Mason play as engagingly as Mike Ratledge and Elton Dean, say, and in a genuine rock style. Praise the masses it's a lot more aggressive than their studio work, with the double percussion of Jim Gordon and Rebop Kwaku Haah driving pretty hard at times. Even the lackadaisical "Gimme Some Lovin'" doesn't seem like a desecration. B-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

This fine live effort revealed Traffic as a seven-man touring unit, a precursor to their upcoming studio directions. On board for this outing were percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah, drummer Jim Gordon, bassist Rick Grech, and Dave Mason, who briefly rejoined Winwood, Capaldi, and Wood for the tour. A revamped version of the Spencer Davis classic "Gimmie Some Lovin' (Part One)" became a moderate hit (number 68). * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Welcome to the Canteen is a tepid live album that contains a particularly vapid version of "Gimme Some Lovin'." * *

- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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