John Barleycorn Must Die – Traffic (1970)

The second inclusion from Traffic on this list – and one that saw the group take a more folky approach.

The song ‘John Barleycorn’ is a traditional English ballad, and the band decided to take influence from our friends Fairport Convention and Pentangle.

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: No. Before this project I’d never even heard of Traffic. It’s a dumb name for a band. All I think of when I see this album title is the incredibly disappointing mid-2000s movie John Tucker Must Die. And Win A Date With Tad Hamilton for some reason.

NK: Definitely not. I actually don’t mind the album title, it’s a really strong premise to start with. We know what John Barleycorn is in for, right from the off.

Standout track

CL: We’re sounding a bit like we can’t quite reach the notes here – and no amount of sax or yazz flu can mask that.

NK: Ok the first track (‘Glad’) hasn’t got a single word in it, it’s just seven minutes of organ and piano prog jamming that goes exactly nowhere. Then ‘Freedom Rider’ is the same thing but funkier and with more sax, flute and nonsense vocals. You know what, this album is not for me. The title track is more traditional folk, and that’s much better (although they could have lost the flute), but it’s too little too late. The country influenced ‘Stranger To Himself’ is maybe the second best track, which is a sentence I can barely believe I just typed.

CL: I can’t stand any of the songs on here. No regrets.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: Wouldn’t even bother mate.  

NK: Don’t.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: Can I pass on this question? Because I really don’t know.

NK: I have no idea. Robert Christgau, an American music critic, had a go at this album because Dave Mason had left the band Christgau regarded him as ‘the only one with any talent’. I don’t remember enjoying the first Traffic album that much, but maybe he had a point.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: Of course not. See ya later Traffic, it’s been a real ride. And by ride I mean unpleasant experience. Thanks.

NK: Nnnnnnnnnope.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to John Barleycorn Must Die on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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