Traffic [2000]

Even many Traffic fans probably aren't familiar with the extensive solo career of the band's cofounder Jim Capaldi. Therefore, this multi-artist, live tribute to the late singer/songwriter/drummer (also available on CD), recorded in January 2007 in London, will be a revelation to many who only know his work in conjunction with Steve Winwood. About half the 20 songs are selections from the late Capaldi's many solo releases, several of them relatively obscure. An all-star ensemble led by Winwood, Paul Weller, Joe Walsh, and Pete Townsend give the Traffic/Capaldi catalog a spin with impressive results. Although bandmate Dave Mason is conspicuous by his absence, the cast also features Bad Company's Simon Kirke, blues rocker Gary Moore, longtime Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, and Capaldi's brother Phil, all interpreting tunes Capaldi wrote or co-wrote. Aside from the Traffic material, he was best known for ballads such as the lovely "Lost Inside Your Love" (gracefully performed here by singer Stevie Lange) and the Eagles hit "Love Will Keep Us Alive," which closes the program on a melancholy note. Yet it's his bluesy midtempo rockers like "Whale Meat Again" (urged on by Kirke), "Pearly Queen" (Weller), and "Gifts of Unknown Things" (Phil Capaldi sounding eerily like his brother) that resonate with the greatest intensity. Yusuf Islam (a.k.a. Cat Stevens) makes a rare appearance (gliding into his "Wild World" during "Man with No Country"), and Pete Townshend also turns in an impassioned performance on this obviously heartfelt tribute to a sadly overlooked talent. --Hal Horowitz

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