The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
|The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys|
|Studio album by Traffic|
|Recorded||September 1971, Island Studios, London|
|Genre||Progressive rock, jazz fusion|
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys is the sixth album by English rock band Traffic, released in 1971. As with other Traffic albums, The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys featured different forms and offshoots of rock including jazz rock, progressive rock, as well as classic rock and roll. The title of the album was suggested by the actor Michael J. Pollard.
The album features the hit "Rock & Roll Stew (part 1)" and the FM hit, "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys." This is the only original Traffic album to feature two lead vocals by Jim Capaldi ("Light Up Or Leave Me Alone" and "Rock & Roll Stew"). His only other unaccompanied vocal on a Traffic studio album was "Dealer" from Mr. Fantasy. The LP is also notable for its die-cut cover.
Low Spark of High Heeled Boys was remastered and reissued with one bonus track on 19 March 2002.
Critical retrospectives on the album are generally positive. Allmusic was overwhelmingly approving in its assessment, praising the variety brought by the non-Winwood/Capaldi compositions and the power of the lengthy title track, and claiming the album "marked the commercial and artistic apex of the second coming of Traffic". In addition, Robert Christgau commented on the band's growth from previous efforts, stating that while the group is "devoid of intellectual thrust," they're "onto something," and "when it works, it suggests a nice paradox—relaxed and exciting at the same time." Pop Matters offered yet another viewpoint, calling it "an album that's easy to listen to over and over, but one that seldom shows up on "best of" lists." It commented that most of the songs are highly understated and require multiple listens to appreciate.
- "Hidden Treasure" – 4:16
- "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" – 12:10
- "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" (Jim Capaldi) – 4:55
- "Rock 'n' Roll Stew" (Ric Grech, Jim Gordon) – 4:29
- "Many a Mile to Freedom" (Steve Winwood, Anna Capaldi) – 7:26
- "Rainmaker" – 7:39
- The initial CD release placed "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" after "Many a Mile to Freedom".
Bonus track (2002 reissue)
- "Rock & Roll Stew Parts 1 & 2" (Grech, Gordon) – 6:07
Note: This is different from the "Rock & Roll Stew Part 1" and "Part 2" recordings on the single. It is a previously unreleased version which is the most complete studio performance of the song. The album version fades earlier than this version. Part 1 on the single is an edit (with shortened instrumental break) of the album version. Part 2 (side B of the single) fades in at a point past the album version's fadeout. This is also the version of "Rock & Roll Stew" that appears on the Gold compilation.
- Steve Winwood – lead vocals (except on "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" and "Rock & Roll Stew"), guitar, piano, organ
- Chris Wood – saxophone, flute
- Jim Capaldi – percussion, lead vocals on "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" and "Rock & Roll Stew", backing vocal on "Rainmaker"
- Ric Grech – bass, violin
- Jim Gordon – drums
- Rebop Kwaku Baah – percussion
- Mike Kellie – drums on "Rainmaker"
- Cover art: Tony Wright
"Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" has been covered by Gov't Mule, jam band Widespread Panic, and jam band Phish. Phish has also occasionally covered "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone".
|1972||Billboard Pop Albums||7|
|1972||"Rock & Roll Stew Part 1"||Billboard Pop Singles||93|
|RIAA – USA||Gold||7 February 1972|
|Platinum||3 March 1996|
- The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys at AllMusic
- Traffic reviews, Robert Christgau. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Lankford, Ronnie D., Jr. (30 May 2002.) Album review, Pop Matters.
- "BMI Copyright Database.".; also per credits on original LP label. Later releases erroneously credit Jim instead of Anna.
- "Steve Winwood website.".
- "Gov't Mule [9-02-2001]". Mule Army. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- "All times played". Everydaycompanion. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
- "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys". phish.net. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
- Traffic in the USA Charts, Allmusic. Retrieved 9 August 2011.