Rolling Stone - 1/20/72, p.48
"...as musicians [Winwood] and Traffic have never played better...The longest and the best cut on the album is the title track...creative ensemble playing..."
Q - 6/02, p.1424 stars out of 5
- "...Winwood's haunting vocals are cool and restrained while the combination of subtle musicianship, relaxed jamming and a timeless title track ensure this retains its classic status."
Uncut - 8/02, p.1224 out of 5
- "...Magnificent showing...Their finest hour."
Originally released on Island (9180).
Traffic: Rick Grech (bass instrument); Rebop Kwaku Baah, Jim Capaldi, Jim Gordon , Chris Wood , Steve Winwood.
Personnel: Steve Winwood (vocals, guitar, piano, organ); Jim Capaldi (vocals, percussion); Rick Grech (violin); Chris Wood (flute, saxophone); Jim Gordon (drums); Rebop Kwaku Baah (percussion).
Liner Note Author: John McDermott .
Recording information: Island Studios, London, England (09/1971).
Photographer: Richard Polak.
THE LOW SPARK OF HIGH HEELED BOYS was a big change from the quiet, largely acoustic flavor of Traffic's reunion album JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE. Although the gentle opening track, "Hidden Treasure," and the meandering, mellow closer, "Rainmaker," were in keeping with the pastoral vibe of the previous record, sandwiched in between those are several increasingly aggressive and lyrically sour songs about that evergreen topic--life in a rock & roll band.
The venality of the business gets a workout in the 12-minute title track, a slow-building jazz-rock groove that starts with a sense of quiet menace and ends with a pealing, distorted guitar solo, with one of Steve Winwood's most impassioned and lengthy organ solos at the song's heart. "Rock & Roll Stew" and Jim Capaldi's sneering putdown "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" are even more forceful, with only the groovy ecological message of "Many a Mile to Freedom" lightening the mood. Even that song rocks harder than anything on JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE, though, and that extra hint of power is likely what helped make THE LOW SPARK OF HIGH HEELED BOYS Traffic's most commercially successful album in the United States.