Traffic was among the most successful of the second wave of "the British invasion" circa 1967. Comprised of Stevie Winwood, Dave Mason, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi, the band pioneered "group songwriting" (which ultimately led to Mason's early departure) and forged an innovative blend of rock, blues and jazz elements which saw them acheive considerable chart success on both sides of the Atlantic. Jim Capaldi enjoyed a long songwriting collaboration with Winwood, and several of the band's hits were co-written by the team. This loving DVD concert tribute to Capaldi, who passed away in 2005 due to cancer, features a nice array of stars and lesser known, though excellent, session musicians performing in London's legendary Roundhouse, where Traffic itself first shot to fame 40 years ago.
The guest artists on this 2 hour-plus concert are an interesting and varied lot, including Paul Weller, Bill Wyman, Pete Townshend, Joe Walsh and Yusuf Islam (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens). The backing band, while perhaps not as well-known as the putative stars, actually are, instrumentally at least, the best thing about this DVD, featuring sharp performances all around on two trap sets plus additional percussion (an obvious hommage to Capaldi's drumming skills), plus some great vintage instruments like a Hammond B3. Where the DVD occasionally comes up short is in the vocals department, with none of the backup singers (who also solo) really delivering, and even stalwarts like Walsh sounding pretty bad in spots. Winwood delivers the goods in his short appearance, as do Islam and Townshend (who needlessly expresses some fear about the key he's going to sing in) and, especially, The Storys on a great version of "Love's Got a Hold of Me."
The disc offers some nice versions of several of Capaldi's better known tunes, including "40 Thousand Headman," "Lost Inside Your Love," and Capaldi's signature tune "Mr. Fantasy," after which the DVD is named.
The multi-camera coverage is superb and captures both longshot, mid-range and close-ups of the players in various configurations, adding some visual variety to the proceedings. Audience bleed-through is also at a minimum, which makes the aural portion of the concert more focused.
This concert, put together by Capaldi's widow Minha, is a fitting tribute to one of the great drummers of British rock, and will be enjoyed by all Traffic fans.
The enhanced 1.78:1 image is excellent, with good sharpness and color.
Three equally excellent audio options are featured, standard Dolby, Dolby 5.1, and DTS. All feature superb separation and fidelity, with the edge perhaps going to the Dolby 5.1 due to its excellent instrument placement.
An approximately 10 minute backstage featurette (strangely in black and white) shows some setup and soundchecks and gives some nice unrehearsed footage of the various artists preparing for the show.
Traffic and Capaldi hold a very unique place in modern rock history. Capaldi was obviously deeply loved by those with whom he worked, and that love suffuses this special tribute concert. Recommended for all Traffic fans and/or fans of any of the artists on the DVD.
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet