Jul 7, 2012

Traffic - The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (1971)

Neither compromising nor intellectualizing their skill or vision as progressive rockers, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys had Traffic going pop-jazz-rock, or still odd and jammy enough, but also writing pop rock songs. On the title track in particular, they benefit from this. It's 70s pop/rock enough to work its way into the listener's head and memories and make it feel like the song's been heard a million times. It's also pop enough that the jams between choruses never seem like complete deviations- they almost convince of their purpose. There's that enthusiasm- they're buying our prog! and that familiarity- it often makes too much sense to be completely prog. Critics argue that none of the following tracks reach The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys' level of transcendent pop and in fact weigh the record down. I'm also bummed out that a track so good got put second, but nothing else seems familiar enough to even attempt to compete. Flourishes of quiet-storm (accidentally, Smokey's single came out 4 years later) and non-elfish folk (thank god!) keep things interesting while the happy feeling from that second track remains. True, they made the mistake of climaxing too early, but at least they don't attempt it again. All I can think of is sex analogies now! Maybe it's like they give you a back-rub for the remaining 23 minutes 'cause their balls hurt, and that's fine



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