Welcome To AlbumLinerNotes.com
"The #1 Archive of Liner Notes in the World!"

Your Subtitle text
The Low Spark Of High
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys


(Steve Winwood / Jim Capaldi)

(Steve Winwood / Jim Capaldi)

(Jim Capaldi)

4. ROCK & ROLL STEW  4:22
(Rick Grech / Jim Gordon)

(Steve Winwood / Jim Capaldi)

6. RAINMAKER  7:51
(Steve Winwood / Jim Capaldi)


7. ROCK & ROLL STEW  Parts 1 & 2 (single version)  6:07
(Rick Grech / Jim Gordon)
Originally issued as (US only) single, Island 1201, released January 1972.


– vocals, guitar, piano, organ
CHRIS WOOD – sax, flute
JIM CAPALDI – vocals, percussion
RICK GRECH – bass, violin
JIM GORDON – drums
REEBOP KWAKU BAAH – percussion


Recorded September 1971 at Island Studios, London.

Engineered by Brian Humphries

Cover design by Tony Wright

Photography by Richard Polak

THE LOW SPARK OF HIGH HEELED BOYS, Island ILPS 9180, was first released November 1971.

Reissue supervised by Bill Levenson

Mastered from the original analog master tapes by Jeff Willens at Universal Mastering Studios East

Reissue Design: SMAY VISION

Reissue Production Coordinator: Monique McGuffin

Thirty years after its release in November 1971, The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys stands as Traffic’s biggest US commercial success and a cornerstone of their impressive legacy.

Traffic had only begun to make their mark when the original edition disbanded in January 1969.  Steve Winwood’s next creative pursuit, a high profile role within the supergroup, Blind Faith, exposed his versatile skills to a much broader audience.

By 1970, Winwood reunited with Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi to craft the superb ‘comeback’ disc, John Barleycorn Must Die.  That album, issued within the shadow of Winwood’s short tenure in Blind Faith, provided Traffic with their US commercial breakthrough and helped cultivate a wider audience for their music.

John Barleycorn Must Die skillfully revealed the group’s creative transformation.  The whimsical flourishes of psychedelic pop had been cast aside and in their place  came dynamic, expanded arrangements and an increased focus on Winwood’s unmistakable vocals.

Rather than simply replicate the successful formula that had produced John Barleycorn Must Die, Traffic continued to evolve, recruiting former Blind Faith bassist Rick Grech in mid 1970.  In May1971, Winwood, Wood, and Capaldi recast the group once more, adding drummer Jim Gordon, recently departed from Derek & The Dominos, and percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah.  The group was also joined by Dave Mason, an original Traffic member who had since departed to begin a solo career.  This edition produced a handful of memorable performances that summer.  The raucous Welcome To The Canteen, a live souvenir of two July 1971 performances in Croydon and London was issued in September 1971.

Despite the additional personnel, Traffic’s nucleus of Winwood, Wood, and Capaldi remained its strength.  “We were the people who gave the band its character and made that peculiar blend of rock, folk, jazz, and R&B,” explained Winwood.  “That is what we set out to do in that band, to create a kind of music that is eclectic.  It was a conscious effort.  Jim and I could play and sing, but Chris gave the band its character.”

Dave Mason would depart soon after the conclusion of the brief UK tour, but Traffic was determined to capture the extraordinary rhythmic interplay of which their recent live performances had only hinted.  With a host of superb original compositions in tow, the group entered London’s Island Studios in September 1971 to begin recording.

The premium quality of the new material, largely composed by the fertile partnership of Winwood and Capaldi, served notice that this album would represent a work of special significance.  “The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys”, the album’s majestic title track, set the mood entirely.  Driven by Winwood’s wistful lead vocal, Traffic blended elements of rock, jazz, and African percussion with assurance.  The interplay between Winwood and Wood during the song’s verses immediately recalled past triumphs, but this was a new work, more mature in tone and founded upon Winwood’s haunting piano melody.

As evidenced by the title track, the album’s mood seemed enclosed by a brooding sense of melancholy.  The exuberance which had served as the foundation for so many Traffic recordings of the past was not on display, replaced instead by an older, seasoned Steve Winwood somewhat disillusioned by the process, yet still searching for fulfillment.  The compelling “Many A Mile to Freedom” was one such example, yet nothing would articulate this sentiment more clearly than the poignant “Rainmaker”, another standout Winwood/Capaldi composition.  Winwood’s impassioned lead vocal was tinged with sadness and served as the anchor for a magnificent group performance.

Capaldi’s sly “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone” would in time become a concert staple for the group.  The brawny “Rock & Roll Stew”, written by Grech and Gordon, and voiced by Capaldi, was indicative of the group’s open, organic creative approach.  Capaldi was quite a capable drummer in his own right, yet he welcomed Gordon into the band to take advantage of the creative possibilities.  As a bonus, this special, remastered edition features the extended, full-length single version in addition to the original album track.

Warmly embraced by US audiences, The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys earned the group its second consecutive US Top Ten album.  A successful, large scale US tour in support of the album further confirmed the group’s spiraling popularity.  True to form, however, this edition of Traffic was also short lived.  Shortly thereafter, Grech and Gordon were dismissed and Traffic soon reinvented themselves once more.

Three decades later, The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys has aged remarkably well.  It remains one of Traffic’s finest achievements.  “I think we progressed great,” Capaldi explained to journalist Chris Welch.  “The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys was a high point.  You hear it now and you can’t work out if it’s rock, jazz, or what.  Traffic formed its own style.  We used to call it Headless Horseman music.  We really laid the groundwork for lots of other bands who became very technical and scientific.  But we kept a very simple approach.”


(P) © 2002 Universal-Island Records Ltd.
Manufactured by the Island Def Jam Music Group, Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019 – USA.  Distributed by Universal Music & Video Distribution Corp.
Warning: All rights reserved.  Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

Island™  A Universal Music Company


314 548 827-2

Website Builder