The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

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The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Studio album by Traffic
Released November 1971
Recorded September 1971, Island Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, jazz fusion
Length 41:05
Label Island
Producer Steve Winwood
Traffic chronology
Welcome to the Canteen
(1971)
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
(1971)
Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory
(1973)

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.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (B)[2]

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".[1] 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."[2] 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.[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi unless otherwise noted.

  1. "Hidden Treasure" – 4:16
  2. "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" – 12:10
  3. "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" (Jim Capaldi) – 4:55
  4. "Rock 'n' Roll Stew" (Ric Grech, Jim Gordon) – 4:29
  5. "Many a Mile to Freedom" (Steve Winwood, Anna Capaldi[4]) – 7:26
  6. "Rainmaker" – 7:39
  • The initial CD release placed "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" after "Many a Mile to Freedom".

Bonus track (2002 reissue)[edit]

  1. "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.

Personnel[edit]

Covers[edit]

"Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" has been covered by Gov't Mule,[6] jam band Widespread Panic,[7] and jam band Phish.[8] Phish has also occasionally covered "Light Up Or Leave Me Alone".[citation needed]

Charts[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1972 Billboard Pop Albums 7[9]

Singles

Year Song Chart Position
1972 "Rock & Roll Stew Part 1" Billboard Pop Singles 93[9]

Certifications[edit]

Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold 7 February 1972
Platinum 3 March 1996

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys at AllMusic
  2. ^ a b Traffic reviews, Robert Christgau. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  3. ^ Lankford, Ronnie D., Jr. (30 May 2002.) Album review, Pop Matters.
  4. ^ "BMI Copyright Database.". ; also per credits on original LP label. Later releases erroneously credit Jim instead of Anna.
  5. ^ "Steve Winwood website.". 
  6. ^ "Gov't Mule [9-02-2001]". Mule Army. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "All times played". Everydaycompanion. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys". phish.net. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Traffic in the USA Charts, Allmusic. Retrieved 9 August 2011.