(2001 US CD Reissue Essay by Brian Hogg):
In January 1968 the original Traffic line-up: Stevie Winwood (vocals/guitar/organ), Dave Mason (vocals/guitar), Chris Wood (saxophone/flute) and Jim Capaldi (drums/vocals) had, by January 1968, been reduced to a trio by the departure of Mason. Undaunted, the band took to the road and in doing so discovered an extraordinary bond. Naturally the spotlight fell on Winwood who filled the sound with pedal bass lines, organ and soaring voice, but Capaldi's measured, rhythmic punch and Wood's intuitive woodwind breathed colour into the sound. (A flavour of Traffic as a trio is preserved on two live tracks issued on the 1969 album 'Last Exit').
Chris Wood's tenor sax and Steve Winwood's guitar fused so well together it was sometimes difficult to tell them apart. "You can all join in" followed and confirmed my opinion that it should be put out as a single. Here it would be a giant. It's slightly hillbilly flavor and easy pace have made it a firm favourite on the Continent and with British fans who have heard it.
To this listener, the work of Traffic was the most appealing and the most developed of the evening. The three Britons were intent upon bringing warmth, melody, and vocal expressiveness back to the pop scene. Traffic's Members have the technique and splash to outdo any challenger in electronic effects or wild, orgiastic sound. But the broup preferred to gravitate toward subtle statement, musical structure, and building some patterns that make logic rather than just jolt.
The central figure of Traffic is Steve Winwood, a gifted 19-year-old who brings a Ray Charles-like voice, a supple organ style and a fluent guitar manner with him. Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood gave him excellent support. British musicians continue to be style-setters and the visit of Traffic is especially welcome.
I regard Stevie as the finest white blues singer I have ever heard regardless of age or environment. It doesn't stop there, however. Great nineteen-year-old singers are not true superfreaks. He also is a polished multi-instrumentalist. He is an accomplished organist with a mature jazz-oriented feeling for pop music. You can hear this command of the instrument on "Blues in F", the flipside of the Spencer Davis hit "Gimme Some Lovin'" which Stevie also wrote. He was responsible for composing most of the Davis Group's hits, and writes most of the Traffic repertoire, which is his present group affiliation.