Sunday, July 31, 2011

Traffic: Feelin' Good

It is simply months since we had any Steve Winwood or Traffic, so let's put that right with this track from Traffic's LP Last Exit. This was, in the words of Wikipedia, "a collection of odds and ends put together by Island Records after the initial breakup of the band".

Feelin' Good was one of two tracks recorded live at a concert performed at Filmore West in San Francisco. There are lots of versions of it around, but there is not another one with organ like this on it.

There is also a live Canadian video of the song from the same era. Unfortunately, it was a time when Canadian TV was still in black and white and did not own any lights.

As I said, Feelin' Good (or Feeling Good) is everywhere these days, but I did not realise where it came from until recently. The famous Nina Simone recording of the song dates from 1965, but it was not some standard. It comes from the Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse  show The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd, which opened that year.

This is a surprise if you had Newley and Bricusse down as purveyors of dodgy musicals. Though Newley does have his place in British cultural history. He links the 1940s golden age of British films with the pop culture of the 1960s, and he taught a generation of performers that you did not have to put on an American accent to sing. And he was being lined up for a permanent role in EastEnders when he died in 1999.

Traffic reformed in 1970 to make their best LP John Barleycorn Must Die. While doing so they recorded a live concert for the BBC. And you can find the whole thing on Youtube, with part 1 here.

As John Peel says:
"With all the stories of groups breaking up constantly in the music papers, it's really nice to have one of the all time great ones get together again and it's even nicer to have them on this programme."

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