The latest classic album to get the Deluxe Edition makeover treatment is the excellent John Barleycorn Must Die from Traffic, first released back in 1970.
Now regarded as the bands definitive work John Barleycorn Must Die started life as a solo project for 22 year old Steve Winwood, who had served his time with The Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and was also a founder member of Traffic.
Originally a project where Steve Winwood planned to play every instrument himself, he began recording in the Autumn of 1969. Then, after taking time out in January 1970 to participate in Ginger Baker’s Airforce, Winwood returned to his solo album in February.
The next piece to be committed to tape was ‘Glad‘, a jazz influenced instrumental based upon a piano part that Winwood had been toying with for some time. With the input of Jim Capaldi’s drumming and Chris Wood’s saxophone, the piece took upon a new lease of life. “It was obvious to all of us that we should really give Traffic another go,” said Winwood soon after.
Songs like ‘Glad’ and ‘Freedom Rider’ reflect Winwood’s time with Blind Faith, more improvised, jazzier and more expansive than anything on Traffic’s earlier albums. The real surprise package, however, was the inclusion of the acoustic, seventeenth century traditional folk song ‘John Barleycorn Must Die’.
John Barleycorn was the album that everyone believed Traffic were capable of when they formed back in 1967, they finally lived up to that promise by a series of events that led to Winwood including the members of the band on the recording of what might well have been his solo album.
In effect it kick started the bands career and they went on recording and performing up until 1974, making their final appearance at the Reading Festival that year.
The Deluxe Edition includes material recorded at New York’s Fillmore East from live shows in 1970 that was scheduled for a live album release that never materialised along with alternate takes of some of the tracks featured on the original recording.
DISC ONE – THE ORIGINAL ALBUM REMASTERED
01: Glad ( 6:59 )
02: Freedom Rider ( 5:30 )
03: Empty Pages ( 4:34 )
04: Stranger To Himself ( 3:57 )
05: John Barleycorn Must Die ( 6:27 )
06: Every Mother’s Son ( 7:08 )
DISC TWO – ALTERNATE TAKES & LIVE – Previously Unreleased
01: Stranger To Himself – Alternate mix ( 4:10 )
02: John Barleycorn Must Die – First version ( 5:10 )
03: Every Mother’s Son – Alternate mix ( 7:01 )
04: Back Stage and Introduction ( 1:44 ) *
05: Medicated Goo – Live ( 4:38 ) *
06: Empty Pages – Live ( 5:03 ) *
07: Forty Thousand Headmen – Live ( 4:50 ) *
08: Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring ? – Live ( 5:21 ) *
09: Every Mother’s Son – Live ( 7:08 ) *
10: Glad / Freedom Rider – Live ( 14:40 ) *
*Recorded Live at The Fillmore East – 18th and 19th November 1970
John Barleycorn Must Die Deluxe Edition is released on February 28th via UMC/Island Records.