Low Spark of High Heeled Boys marked the commercial and artistic apex of the second coming of Traffic, which had commenced in 1970 with John Barleycorn Must Die. The trio that made that album had been augmented by three others (Rick Grech, Jim Gordon, and Reebop Kwaakuh) in the interim, though apparently the Low Spark of High Heeled Boys sessions featured varying combinations of these musicians, plus some guests. But where their previous album had grown out of sessions for a Steve Winwood solo album, Low Spark pointedly contained changes of pace from Winwood's usual contributions of mid-tempo, introspective jam tunes. "Rock Roll Stew" was an uptempo treatise on life on the road, while Jim Capaldi's "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" was another more aggressive number with an unusually emphatic Capaldi vocal that perked things up. The other four tracks were Winwood/Capaldi compositions more in the band's familiar style. "Hidden Treasure" and "Rainmaker" book-ended the disc with acoustic treatments of nature themes that were particularly concerned with water, and "Many a Mile to Freedom" also employed water imagery. But the standout was the title track, with its distinctive piano riff and its lyrics of weary disillusionment with the music business. "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" was one of Traffic's greatest songs, as well as its longest up to that point. The result was an album that eventually went platinum in the U.S. (In addition to offering a noticeable sonic improvement, the 2002 CD reissue resequenced the album, moving "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" to third position from fifth, and adding as a bonus a combined version of the single release "Rock Roll Stew, Pt. 1"/"Rock Roll Stew, Pt. 2," an edit that ran close to two-minutes longer than the album version, though it was the same recording.) William Ruhlmann, Rovi
- Fusion, Hard Rock, Art-Rock/Experimental, Pop/Rock
- Jazz-Rock, Album Rock
- March 19, 2002
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