The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

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The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Traffic - The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.png
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1971
RecordedSeptember 1971
StudioIsland Studios, London
GenreProgressive rock, jazz fusion
ProducerSteve Winwood
Traffic chronology
Welcome to the Canteen
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory
Singles from The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
  1. "Rock & Roll Stew"
    Released: December, 1971 (US only)

The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys is the fifth studio 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 name of the album's title track was suggested by the actor Michael J. Pollard.

The album features the hit "Rock & Roll Stew" 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 (1967). The LP is also notable for its die-cut cover.

The album was certified gold less than a year after its release in the United States, and eventually certified platinum in 1996.

Low Spark of High Heeled Boys was remastered and reissued with one bonus track on 19 March 2002.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 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 underrated and require multiple listens to appreciate.[3]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Hidden Treasure"Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi4:16
2."The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys"Winwood, Capaldi11:35[nb 1]
3."Light Up or Leave Me Alone"Capaldi4:55
Side two
4."Rock & Roll Stew"Ric Grech, Jim Gordon4:29
5."Many a Mile to Freedom"Winwood, Anna Capaldi[4]7:26
6."Rainmaker"Winwood, Capaldi7:39
Total length:39:53
2002 bonus track
7."Rock & Roll Stew Parts 1 & 2"Grech, Gordon6:07

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.







Year Chart Position
1972 Billboard 200 7[6]


Year Song Chart Position
1972 "Rock & Roll Stew Part 1" Billboard Hot 100 93[7]


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


  1. ^ Commonly listed incorrectly on labels as 12:10.


  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. ^ As shown on the original LP label and in the "BMI database".. Later releases credit Jim Capaldi instead of Anna, as does the ASCAP database.
  5. ^ "Steve Winwood website".
  6. ^ "Billboard 200 - Traffic". Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  7. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 - Traffic". Retrieved September 20, 2017.