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Heavy Traffic: “The Jim Capaldi Story” Told On Upcoming Box Set

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It’s time to clear a space on your shelf next to Steve Winwood’s 1995 box set The Finer Things or its 2010 counterpart Revolutions. The life and career of Winwood’s longtime collaborator Jim Capaldi (1944-2005) is being celebrated by the fine folks at Universal U.K. with a lavish new box set, Dear Mr. Fantasy: The Jim Capaldi Story. Set for release on June 27, Dear Mr. Fantasy is named after one of Traffic’s most beloved songs.  It encompasses Capaldi’s work with that group as well as early singles by The Hellions, Revolution and Deep Feeling, and of course his deep solo catalogue. Famous friends of Capaldi’s are present including Winwood, Dave Mason, Paul Kossoff, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, featured on a 2004 recording making its debut here.

Capaldi’s first group, The Hellions, initially consisted of Capaldi, Dave Mason and Gordon Jackson; they are represented on Dear Mr. Fantasy with “Daydreaming of You,” a single penned by Jackie DeShannon and Sharon Sheeley. After attempting to relaunch themselves as Revolution, a disenchanted Mason departed the band; with Luther Grosvenor replacing Mason, they regrouped one final time as Deep Feeling. (One track by each incarnation of the band is included.) After disbanding Deep Feeling, Capaldi reached out to a friend he had met while on tour with The Hellions, Steve Winwood.  Free from his obligations as member of the Spencer Davis Group (“Gimme Some Lovin’,” “Keep On Running”), Winwood joined Capaldi, multi-instrumentalist Chris Wood and Mason (back on board) to form Traffic.  Capaldi wrote lyrics to Winwood’s melody for the psychedelic “Paper Sun,” Traffic’s first single in 1967. Despite a fluctuating lineup, with Mason coming and going with frequency, Traffic remained an ongoing concern through 1974, gaining fans for an intricate mix of rock and an improvisational jazz style. (The band would reform in 1993-1994 as well as in 2004 for its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. One rehearsal track from Traffic’s short set makes its first appearance here.)

Capaldi launched his solo career in 1972 with Oh How We Danced, featuring contributions from Paul Kossoff of Free. A 1975 cover version of “Love Hurts” went Top 5 in the U.K. but it wasn’t until 1982 that he cracked the lucrative American radio market with “That’s Love” from the album Fierce Heart, featuring old friend Winwood on keyboards. Capaldi continued collaborating with many artists throughout his career, including Eric Clapton (for whom he played on Rainbow Concert, a track from which is included on the new box), Carlos Santana and Squeeze’s Paul Carrack, with whom he wrote the Eagles hit “Love Will Keep Us Alive.”  An unreleased demo of “Love” should be a highlight of the new collection.

Capaldi’s final studio album, 2001’s Living on the Outside, featured Winwood, Paul Weller and George Harrison as guests. Harrison can be heard on Dear Mr. Fantasy playing guitar on “Anna Julia” as well as on one unreleased song, “Love’s Got a Hold of Me.”

Jim Capaldi passed away from stomach cancer in 2005 at the age of 60.  He will be remembered with Dear Mr. Fantasy, due from Universal U.K. and Island Records on June 27.  Hit the jump for the full press release plus a complete track listing with discographical annotation!

Jim Capaldi’s story is one of the last great unexplored tales in popular music. The co-founder, drummer and lyricist of the legendary Traffic, Capaldi was one of the most significant, and possibly underrated, songwriters of our generation. He was a five time winner of BMI or ASCAP awards for most played compositions in America. His work in Traffic, alongside Steve Winwood, Chris Wood and Dave Mason, fuelled a 10 album multi-platinum career for the band and provided a benchmark for other musicians. In 2004, Traffic was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

But Traffic, although hugely significant, is only part of the story. Jim Capaldi also enjoyed a thirty year solo career and also worked with many other artists. With his gentlemanly demeanour and his embrace of music from all around the world, Capaldi was a true innovator throughout his five decades in rock.

Dear Mr. Fantasy tells his story through 61 hand-selected tracks. It provides a superb four-CD overview of the enigmatic vocalist and drummer. Packed with rare photos and essays from writers Andrew Male and Pierre Perrone, it follows his tale from the beat group The Hellions in 1965 through the formation of Traffic and its many incarnations. It features material from his time as a successful solo artist on Island, Polydor, Carerre and Warners throughout the 80s. Capaldi also recorded with many rock greats – from Eric Clapton, to Steve Winwood and George Harrison, and this work is included on Dear Mr. Fantasy.

Yet Capaldi’s tale, like many of his recordings, is hidden. He is known for ‘being there’ but many admirers know little more. This beautiful set, overseen by Aninha Capaldi is a musical journey like no other. From the streets of the West Midlands to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, Dear Mr. Fantasy is a remarkable overview of a remarkable man. Including home demos, the fabulous, unreleased track “Love’s Got A Hold Of Me” recorded with George Harrison, and a beautiful unreleased 2004 Traffic recording of “Dear Mr. Fantasy.”

This set’s release coincides with the publication of a luxurious book of the same name by Genesis Publications, which features a forward by Jim’s friend and contemporary Robert Plant [with] many of Jim’s handwritten lyrics.

Jim Capaldi, Dear Mr. Fantasy: The Jim Capaldi Story (Island/Universal, 2011)

CD 1

  1. Daydreaming of You – The Hellions
  2. Hallelujah – Revolution
  3. Pretty Colours – Deep Feeling
  4. Dealer – Traffic
  5. Dear Mr. Fantasy – Traffic
  6. Light Up or Leave Me Alone – Traffic
  7. Rock and Roll Stew – Traffic
  8. 40,000 Headmen*
  9. Pearly Queen (Live) – Eric Clapton and Friends
  10. Tricky Dicky Rides Again
  11. Oh How We Danced
  12. Eve
  13. Don’t Be A Hero
  14. Open Your Heart
  15. How Much Can a Man Really Take
  16. Low Rider
  17. Whale Meat Again

CD 2

  1. It’s All Up to You
  2. Love Hurts
  3. Short Cut Draw Blood
  4. Boy with a Problem
  5. Seagull
  6. You and Me (with Paul Kossoff)
  7. Game of Love
  8. Elixir of Life
  9. Shoe Shine (Disco Mix)
  10. Hotel Blues
  11. Tabitha
  12. Electric Nights
  13. Wild Geese
  14. Every Man Must March to the Sound of His Own Drum
  15. Man With No Country
  16. Going Home

CD 3

  1. Let the Thunder Cry
  2. Favella Music
  3. Child in the Storm
  4. Warm
  5. Old Photographs
  6. We Don’t Need
  7. Tonight You’re Mine
  8. Living on the Edge
  9. That’s Love
  10. Gifts of Unknown Things
  11. Lost Inside Your Love
  12. Tales of Power
  13. Warriors of Love
  14. Something So Strong
  15. Oh Lord, Why Lord
  16. Love Used to Be a Friend of Mine
  17. Some Come Running
  18. Living on the Outside

CD 4

  1. Standing in My Light
  2. Anna Julia
  3. Love You ‘til the Day I Die
  4. State of Grace*
  5. Tallulah*
  6. Humanity (Just Another Checkpoint)*
  7. Bright Fighter*
  8. Strange Bird*
  9. How Do I Get to Heaven*
  10. Love’s Got a Hold of Me (with George Harrison)*
  11. Song for George*
  12. The Time of Cholera*
  13. Invaders of the Heart*
  14. Getting Strong*
  15. Love Will Keep Us Alive*
  16. Dear Mr. Fantasy* (Live) – Traffic (Recorded at rehearsals for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, New York City 2004)

Disc 1, Track 1 from Piccadilly single 7N 35213, 1964
Disc 1, Track 2 from Piccadilly single 7N 35289, 1966
Disc 1, Track 3 rec. 1966, first issued on Angel Air SJPCD088, 2001
Disc 1, Tracks 4-5 from Mr. Fantasy, Island LP 961, 1967
Disc 1, Tracks 6-7 from The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, Island LP 9180, 1971
Disc 1, Track 8 original version first appeared on Island single WIP 6030, 1968
Disc 1, Track 9 from Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert, RSO 877, 1973
Disc 1, Tracks 10 & 11 from Island single WIP 6165, 1973
Disc 1, Track 12 from Island (U.S.) single 1204, 1972
Disc 1, Tracks 13-15 from Oh How We Danced, Island LP 9187, 1972
Disc 1, Tracks 16-17 from Whale Meat Again, Island LP 9254, 1974
Disc 2, Tracks 1-5 from Short Cut Draw Blood, Island LP 9336, 1975
Disc 2, Track 6 from Koss, DJM LP 2-300, 1977
Disc 2, Tracks 7-8 from The Contender, Polydor LP 2383 490, 1978
Disc 2, Track 9 from RSO 12″ single RPO-1014, 1979
Disc 2, Tracks 10-13 from Electric Nights, RSO LP 3050, 1979
Disc 2, Tracks 14-16 from The Sweet Smell of Success, Carrere 116, 1980
Disc 3, Tracks 1-6 from Favella Music, Carrere LP 123, 1981
Disc 3, Tracks 7-10 from Fierce Heart, Atlantic LP 7 80059-1, 1983
Disc 3, Tracks 11-13 from One Man Mission, Atlantic LP 7 80192-1, 1984
Disc 3, Tracks 14-16 from Some Come Running, Island LP 9921, 1988
Disc 3, Track 17 & Disc 4, Tracks 1-3 from Living on the Outside, SPV CD 72512, 2001 – reissued 2003
Disc 4, Tracks 4-16 previously unreleased

All tracks performed by Jim Capaldi unless otherwise indicated.

* indicates previously unreleased track

Written by Joe Marchese

April 21, 2011 at 09:31

One Response

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  1. I can’t wait. Having done a Traffic Marathon on-air in Cleveland years ago – this is a welcomed release from a great musician.

    Todd R.

    May 28, 2011 at 12:40

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