To this listener, the work of Traffic was the most appealing and the most developed of the evening. The three Britons were intent upon bringing warmth, melody, and vocal expressiveness back to the pop scene. Traffic's Members have the technique and splash to outdo any challenger in electronic effects or wild, orgiastic sound. But the broup preferred to gravitate toward subtle statement, musical structure, and building some patterns that make logic rather than just jolt.
The central figure of Traffic is Steve Winwood, a gifted 19-year-old who brings a Ray Charles-like voice, a supple organ style and a fluent guitar manner with him. Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood gave him excellent support. British musicians continue to be style-setters and the visit of Traffic is especially welcome.
I regard Stevie as the finest white blues singer I have ever heard regardless of age or environment. It doesn't stop there, however. Great nineteen-year-old singers are not true superfreaks. He also is a polished multi-instrumentalist. He is an accomplished organist with a mature jazz-oriented feeling for pop music. You can hear this command of the instrument on "Blues in F", the flipside of the Spencer Davis hit "Gimme Some Lovin'" which Stevie also wrote. He was responsible for composing most of the Davis Group's hits, and writes most of the Traffic repertoire, which is his present group affiliation.
Steve Winwood will be 20 on May 12. Five years ago, he and his brother, Muff Winwood, formed a rock group with Spencer Davis, a young teacher, and drummer Peter York. Within two years, the Spencer Davis Group was one of the most popular performing units in England, accounting for such hits as "Keep on Running," "Gimme Some Lovin'," and "I'm a Man." Steve Winwood sang lead on each record, helped write most of the quartet's material, played organ, piano, guitar and harmonica.
What then are the influences affecting Traffic? "They have been based on each other rather than through other groups and musicians. When we started and were living in the cottage we began by talking together and getting to know each other's ideas on music before we actually did anything. What we really wanted to do was to take things that were going on around us and just express them in musical terms. Not necessarily political things, just things that were happening around us. We have reached some of these achievements but there is still a lot we have to do."